Sausage City: Spencer's Jolly Posh Foods Black and White Pudding
It's time to experience the full English fry-up.
Early on for this column, I reviewed Spencer's British bangers and found them some of the best examples of true British sausages in the city; they've been serving up those sausages (along with their excellent, hard-to-find back bacon) every weekend at the Logan Square Farmer's Market—generally and for quite some time spreading the good cheer of underappreciated British meatstuffs.
Recently, Spencer's also opened a shop of their own. At Spencer's Jolly Posh Foods on Irving Park Rd., you can find their bangers and bacon full time. But they've also expanded, and not only to beyond meat—Cadbury Chocolate, Yorkshire Gold tea, digestives and HP sauce, to start—but also started carrying some of the best black and white pudding I've tasted, including in the U.K.
If you're not familiar with black and white pudding or the full English breakfast, it goes something like this: a fried egg, beans in tomato sauce, bacon, black and white pudding, tomato, and toast. Generally, everything is fried up together in the skillet, including the toast and halved tomato, so that the fat from the sausages and bacon coat every bite. The elements can also vary (i.e. you sometimes see breakfast sausage). But in my opinion, the best plates always have black and white pudding, the two ingredients hardest to find outside the U.K.
Black pudding is a friendlier name for blood sausage, and white pudding is very similar, but has no blood; both are made up of pork, spices, oatmeal, and sometimes bread. They are usually aggressively seasoned and shaped into a log for slicing and frying.
In the Spencer's frozen case, it comes frozen in logs; to cook, you simply peel back the plastic sheath, slice and fry, along with the rest of the ingredients except the beans (thankfully, the Jolly Posh shelves also house Heinz British "Beanz," without which the fry-up is incomplete; they actually provide a bit of crucial acidity to help balance out all that pork fat). The black pudding is rich and crisps up nicely; the white pudding is even better, with a soft, almost crumbly texture and a rich porky flavor.
If you're craving pretty much anything British, Spencer's also has a chalkboard in the shop encouraging customers to write down the British products they miss the most (it's also a good place to pick up Uptown Soda Bread's wares, especially their soft rolls, which I wish Spencer's would wise up and start using at their Farmer's market stand). But if you do make the stop, don't leave without at least a log or two of these essential pieces of the British fry-up.