As January draws to a close and February 14th approaches, there’s one thing that none of us can get off our minds.
Sausage rolls. (Who cares about sex?)
Now, I bet you can’t name one person who doesn’t fantasise about a great, big, meaty sausage (or sausage substitute), especially when its rolled up in a sensual blanket. (OK I’m not quite sure about where this innuendo is going, I’ll let your creative minds do the work).
The best thing about sausage rolls, is you can use your hands. So say goodbye to all things civilised and get in touch with your wild side, because there’s a sausage roll that needs some rough handling! (Oh, so barbaric!)
I mean, seriously, what could be more perfect for all your forkless picnics, pitstop lunches, or on-the-go snacks? (Remember the time you took a great big bite out of your sandwich and all the filling flopped out onto your lap? Well, you don’t even get that with a sausage roll. Although, I wouldn’t mind a bit of sausage on my lap….)
Before I get too carried away, I should probably just get on with it and give you a great base recipe upon which to build all your sausage roll fantasies.
Base Recipe – Makes 6 sizable sausage rolls.
- Proportion of meat to choice ingredients: A good rule of thumb is to have at least twice as much pork as other ingredients. So if you’re planning on spicing up your sausage roll with apple, chorizo, or leek, for example, just make sure you have around 2 to 2.5 times the weight in sausage.
- Sausage meat or ground pork? In general I prefer sausage meat – it’s essentially ground pork that has been very well mushed up and usually with some herbs and breadcrumbs in. If you’re using sausage meat, you don’t need breadcrumbs, and if you’re using ground pork, you do need breadcrumbs, otherwise the texture is too tough once cooked.
- Herbs and flavourings: There’s nothing to say you need herbs in your sausage roll, however the sky’s the limit when you’re considering which herbs to add to your sausage mixture. Here’s a short list of some popular herbs and flavourings: fennel seeds, carraway seeds, ground mace, sage, parsley, basil, nutmeg, thyme, chili flakes, coriander, chive, mustard… did I mention that the sky’s the limit?
- Choice ingredients: This is the fun part where you get to really put your creative caps on. My recipes include everything from mushroom and onion to chorizo, blackpudding, and apple. But here are some other ideas: spring onion, bacon, tomato, cheese, etc etc.
- Vegetarian and vegan: The great thing about vegetarian food is that you can really go wild with all your flavour combinations. Some great foods you can use to “stiffen” up your roll are: nuts (walnuts and pecans are good), breadcrumbs, cooked lentils, mushrooms, cooked beans (barlotti, cannellini, black beans, etc), and potatoes – but these are just some ideas, there are plenty more main stodge ingredients out there.
So, here’s the recipe layout. Remember, these are just the guidelines. Depending on the ingredients you choose to use, you will have to adjust your proportions accordingly – but sometimes it takes a few attempts to get the proportions just right.
200g good quality sausage meat OR ground pork
40g breadcrumbs IF using ground pork (sausage meat already has breadcrumbs inside)
2 tbsp herbs, blitzed (sage is my favourite, but you can add thyme, rosemary, parsley – whatever takes your fancy)
50-100g OTHER ingredient (chorizo, blackpudding, apple, onion, leek – the list goes on).
Salt and pepper.
You have to blitz or chop all your ingredients very finely before adding them to the sausage mixture. If you’re using ingredients such as leeks, apple, mushrooms or bacon, for instance, these also have to be cooked beforehand. Onion and herbs, on the other hand, don’t need to be cooked – just blitzed and added to the mixture. These are small enough that they will cook inside the sausage in the oven. Add everything else together and mix well.
- To puff or not to puff? Both puff and flaky pastry are delicious, but if I was to go with one, I’d go with flaky pastry. It really is so easy to make, and, I think, utterly butterly worth it.
- Vegan pastry: Amazingly, puff pastry is in fact vegan (I know, right?). So if you’re planning on making vegan sausage, or nosage, rolls, then puff is the way to go.
- Scoring the top? Delia Smith recommends scoring the top of the sausage roll to let the steam out, and I think that it’s better done than not done. Sometimes your pastry can end up splitting at the side if you don’t score the tops. But also, it just looks more decorative (if done well).
300g puff pastry
OR FOR FLAKY PASTRY
110g plain flour
75g block of butter
Pinch of salt
1 egg, beaten
For the flaky pastry, use Delia Smith‘s excellent technique. Put a 75g block of butter into the freezer for 30 minutes. Then, sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Get the butter out of the freezer, dust it in the flour, and start grating the butter into the bowl. Keep re-dusting and turning the butter around as it starts to soften in your fingers.
Once all grated, mix the curls of butter with the flour using a pallet knife so that all the curls of butter are thoroughly coated with the flour. Then add a tablespoon of cold water and keep mixing with the knife. You may need to add up to 2 or 3 more tablespoons of water, mixing with the knife, and then bringing together with your hands. Pat the dough into a rectangle shape, pop in some cling film, and put it in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make the filling.
Preheat the oven to 220C (200C Fan) and make the sausage mixture.
Take the pastry out of the fridge, and on a floured surface, roll the pastry out into an oblong shape (20cm x 30cm).
Cut the pastry into 2 strips lengthways, and in the middle of each of those strips, mold the sausage meat all the way down the strip. Again, I recommend heading to Delia Smith’s video to gain a good understanding of how to fashion this flaky pastry into a sausage roll.
After having whisked the egg in a small bowl, use a pastry brush to brush the egg wash down one of the long sides of each separate strip. Then, starting with the non-egg washed side of the pastry strip, roll the pastry over the sausage meat and onto the egg washed strip, patting the sausage roll down so that the two sides of the pastry stick.
Cut the ends off of each long roll, and cut each roll into three (which should make a nice sized sausage roll – although feel free to make them longer/shorter/fatter/thinner). Once you’ve done that, make some cuts in the top of the pastry to let the steam out.
Put the sausage rolls onto parchment paper on an oven tray, egg wash the tops, and pop them in the oven for around 20-25 minutes.
So, that’s the base sausage roll recipe. Why not try one of these five tried, tested, and bloomin’ delicious recipes – which include one vegan and one veggie recipe to boot.
Storing sausage rolls
The best thing about sausage rolls, is that they’re so convenient. You can freeze them, and when you want them, all you have to do is take it out of the freezer and defrost them the night before.
1. Chorizo and blackpudding sausage roll
Honest to God, if nothing else gets your juices flowing, this sausage roll will. It is absolutely mouthwatering, and its worth making if only for the smells of chorizo that’ll be scenting your kitchen. Click here for the recipe.
2. I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-meat sausage roll
It looks like meat. It tastes like meat. So how the hell is it not meat? It’s a pretty funky recipe, and I have to say I didn’t come up with it from scratch. Click here to head to this recipe post.
3. The classic
The classic sausage roll. A winner every time, and so easy to make (like all sausage rolls). Head to this post to get the recipe.
4. Mushroom and walnut vegan sausage roll
Mushrooms and walnuts are a delicious alternative to sausagemeat, so this is quite a treat for all the vegans – and non vegans – out there. Click here to go to this recipe post.
5. Caremelised apple, orange and pork sausage roll
This is a real classic combination of ingredients, and it works so well in a sausage roll. This particular recipe contrasts the saltiness of the sausage with the tartness of fresh apples and the zestiness of the orange, and makes for a delicious version of the sausage roll. Click here to go to the recipe.