When I order steak at restaurants, I tend to make tired jokes about how rare I like it.
"I want my meat black and blue," I'll say. "Bring it to me still bleeding."
Though I don't literally want my steak bleeding onto my plate, there are some instances where a little blood in my meal makes it all the better. No, I'm not referring to when chefs season a dish inadvertently (see our October piece on horrific kitchen injuries). I'm talking about blood soup, blood sausage and any other dish that benefits from a little bit of the sanguine sauce.
In Houston, there are a number of restaurants at which you can get your fix. Just, maybe, don't bring your squeamish friends along. Cubed blood is not for the faint of heart. Or stomach.
5. Boudin Noir at Café Rabelais Because we reside in such close proximity to Louisiana and the Cajun and Creole bounty that comprises much of its cuisine, I'm always surprised when a friend sees "boudin noir" on a menu and asks me what it is. "Just order it," I always say, smiling devilishly on the inside. "It's super tasty." It is, of course, delicious, but many people are less than enthused at the prospect of eating blood encased in intestines. Boudin noir originated in France, so it makes sense that some of the best blood sausage in town can be found at the delightful French restaurant Café Rabelais. Here, it's made from ground pork and pig's blood, then grilled and serve on mashed potatoes with a side of caramelized apples.
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4. Black & White Pudding at Brian O'Neill's The traditional British dish black pudding can be difficult to find in Houston since Feast closed, but it is available where many people might not expect: at Brian O'Neill's Irish pub. Brunch is offered Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and one of the items on the menu during this time is an "Irish Breakfast," consisting of two fried eggs, a fried tomato, Irish bangers (sausage), Irish rashers (bacon-esque) and black and white pudding. Black pudding is essentially the British version of blood sausage (think less spicy than boudin noir and made with oatmeal), while white pudding is a similar sausage prepared without the blood that gives its cousin its signature black hue.
3. Bun Bo Hue at Kim Chau Speaking of hue (but let's start pronouncing it "way" for authenticity), bun bo hue is one of the best options if you're wanting to eat blood here in Houston simply because there are so many Vietnamese restaurants in town. Many of them no longer serve the classic cubes of congealed pig blood in bun bo hue because non-Vietnamese people tend to be a bit turned off by it. Even places that do carry congealed pig's blood might not serve it to you unless you specifically ask for it. Kim Chau is often called the best spot for bun bo hue in Houston, and the small Vietnamese eatery doesn't skimp on the blood. Back in 2012, Robb Walsh put Kim Chau's bun bo hue on his list of 100 favorite dishes, writing, "It was the first bowl of bun bo hue I have ever tried, and I ate it with a little too much enthusiasm." Once you get past the fact that you're eating gelatinous blood, it's really a superb meal.
2. Blood Sausage and Pickles at Polonia As Houston's only Polish restaurant, Polonia has the market cornered on all things pierogi, schabowy, golonka and paczki. Sausage is made down the street at the Polish market run by the same family, and it's then sold with meals at the restaurant. You can either order it at the restaurant, where it's been sautéed with onions and is served with a side of homemade pickles, or you can trot on down to the store and pick up your own to prepare at home. I'd recommend dining in, because the staff and owners of Polonia are some of the nicest, most enthusiastic restaurateurs in town. Just don't tell them to stop pouring the vodka. They'll look at you like you're crazy.
1. Morcilla Pizza at Provisions Provisions has quickly become one of the best pizza spots in town, in spite of the fact that it doesn't adhere to the trendy Neapolitan style of preparation. The pizzas at Provisions are some of the most creative around, featuring toppings like duck confit, pickled currants and the ingredient that landed them on this list, morcilla. The morcilla pizza is also topped with braised radicchio and ricotta made from sheep's milk, making it one of the least terrifying blood dishes around. I mean, it's pizza. If anything can serve as a gateway drug to congealed pig's blood, it's sausage pizza. The slices of morcilla have been slightly crisped in the wood-burning pizza oven, so they resemble crumbly pepperoni more than anything with gnarly innards. The menu at Provisions changes from time to time, so get in there soon to get your blood fix before it's gone!