The whole wide world it seems loves sausages. Here in Ireland we eat an estimated 15,200 tonnes of sausages every year but it’s not just the Irish and Brits who have a passion for sausages, what would the yanks do without their hotdogs, the French and Italian wouldn’t survive without their salami and salumi the Spanish have got all of us hooked on Chorizo and Germans boast over 1,200 varieties of sausages, the Chinese too have their favourites and of course we also love Moroccan merquez, Polish cabanossi and wiejska sausages have been made for at least 5,000 years when the earliest written recipe was etched on a Sumerian clay tablet. Romans were also sausage enthusiasts and brought the art of stuffing chopped meat into casings to every corner of their vast empire. Originally in the days before refrigeration sausage making would have been primarily about preservation. Salt and spices both flavoured and halted the growth of pathogenic bacteria, herbs like rosemary and sage also have anti bacterial qualities and of course drying and smoking help to further preserve.
Sausages would have been flavoured with the predominant herb or spice of that area such as wild fennel seeds in Italy, caraway in Germany and ground paprika (pimento) in Spain.
Refrigeration and mechanisation have transformed sausages, not always for the better, cheaper sausages can have mechanically recovered meat and little pork as we know it. However there has been a revival in real sausage making and many butchers and artisan producers now make superb sausages. Associated Craft Butchers of Ireland have for years encouraged innovation and awarded sought after prizes for creative ‘bangers’ If you would like to try your hand you don’t necessarily need to keep a pig but do need to somehow source terrific pork preferably from a traditional breed of pig that ranges freely outside – you’ll also need some nice pork fat because perversely if the meat is too lean the sausages will be dry and dull – a recently published book called ‘The Sausage Book’ published by Kyle Cathie and written by Nick Sandler and Johnny Acton could be just the thing to get you started.
Nick is Creative chef for Pret a Manger and has tested a vast range of sausages all in the name of research. Johnny is a writer / journalist who has raised four Oxford Sandy cats so far. This is their fifth cook book – I loved the recipes for making sausages but if you’d rather buy them there are also over 80 delicious and well tested recipes to use them in.
Traditional fresh sausage recipes call for salt to form two per cent of the total weight. We have reduced this to one and a half per cent, as it’s healthier and doesn’t adversely affect the flavour.
Makes about 20 sausages
1.5kg pork shoulder, cut into chunks
500gm hard pork back fat, trimmed of all skin, cut into chunks (NB Instead of the 2 ingredients above you could use 2kg fatty pork belly, trimmed of skin and bone and cut into chunks)
15g fresh thyme, finely chopped
30g flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
30g fine or flaky sea salt
10g freshly ground black pepper
20g garlic, chopped
approx 3m length of spooled hog casings, soaked in warm water prior to usage
Before you start, make sure your surfaces and equipment are scrupulously clean. You may also want to wear latex gloves.
The process begins with grinding the meat to the desired texture, which in this case is on the rough side (use a 5–7mm plate). Make sure you keep the meat cold throughout. This isn’t just a matter of hygiene – if you allow sausage meat to warm up, it turns into unmanageable glue.
The next stage is to chop up the herbs and add them to the mince with the requisite quantity of salt. You then mix the ingredients by hand until they are evenly distributed.
Now comes the slightly suggestive business of rolling the casing onto the nozzle. With any luck, one end of the casing will be wrapped around a telltale plastic ring. If it isn’t, you just have to scrabble around until you find an end. Once you have succeeded, slip the end over the tip of the nozzle and gradually roll the whole casing onto it, bar a couple of inches. Then tie a knot in the projecting portion.
At this point, you need to load your sausage stuffer with the meat-and-herb-mixture. Then screw the nozzle on and prepare to stuff. This will be much easier if you enlist the help of a friend. One of you turns the handle of the stuffer while the other controls the release of the casing. This is done by gripping the part of it nearest to the tip of the nozzle between two fingers, varying the pressure as the meat emerges to ensure that the casing slips off at a controlled rate. The idea is to fill it thoroughly and evenly.
All being well, you will end up with one very long sausage, but if the casing ruptures, perhaps due to some overzealous handle-turning, just tie a knot in it and start again.
When you run out of casings or meat, tie a knot in the back end as you did the front.
The final piece of the jigsaw is to twist the giant sausage into links. There are various pretty ways of doing this but the simplest is to ease the meat into segments of the desired length through the casing, then twist at the gaps. When it comes to cooking your freshly made sausages, do it slowly and thoroughly and do not prick the skins. If the heat isn’t too high, there is little danger of the sausages bursting and you don’t want them to lose their juiciness.
This is a version of the classic sausage from the North West of England.
Makes about 15 sausages
1.2kg (2 ¾ lb) roughly minced thick belly pork
20g (¾ oz) salt
5g (¼ oz) freshly ground black pepper
2g freshly grated nutmeg
2g dried marjoram
2g dried sage
2m (200cm) hog casings
Make as per Paysanne Sausages, forming one giant coil. Don’t tie off into links.
The definitive fresh sausage of South West France.
Makes about 2 0 sausages
2kg roughly minced pork belly
30g relatively fine sea salt
2g freshly grated nutmeg
5g freshly ground black pepper
100ml red wine
20g garlic, chopped
20g flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
4g fresh sage, chopped
4g fresh thyme, chopped
2.5m hog casings
Make as per Paysanne Sausages.
Toad in The hole
Depending on the quality of the sausages and the execution, this classic British dish can be depressingly stodgy or rather magnificent. Our ‘toads’ of choice are pork chipolatas wrapped in smoked streaky bacon, served with a flavoursome onion gravy made from rich chicken stock and a good glug of booze. For this recipe you need a standard-size 12-hole muffin tin (or, of course, two six-hole ones).
12 rashers smoked streaky bacon
100g plain flour
300ml chicken or beef stock
250ml red wine
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced
1 tablespoon butter
2 teaspoons plain flour
2 sprigs thyme
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Wrap each chipolata in one rasher of bacon and bake for fifteen minutes, each in an individual muffin mould. While they are roasting, whisk the batter ingredients together in a bowl.
Remove the chipolatas from the oven and immediately ladle out the batter into the muffin moulds so there is a chipolata poking out of each one. Place the moulds in the oven and bake for a further 20 minutes until the batter is puffed up and golden brown.
While all this has been going on, you will have been making the gravy. To do this, heat up the stock and red wine in one pan while frying the onion in the butter over moderate heat in another. Continue for about ten minutes until nice and soft. Stir in the flour and slowly pour in the hot stock, whisking as you go.
Add the thyme and Worcestershire sauce and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, then season to taste with salt and pepper.
Remove the toads in the hole from the oven and serve with mashed root vegetables and lashings of gravy.
Toulouse Sausage & Bean Cassoulet
1kg Toulouse sausage (or other herby variety, such as paysanne)
2 carrots, diced
2 sticks celery, diced
1 small onion, peeled and diced
50g pancetta, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
500ml chicken stock
600g cooked butter beans
2 fresh bay leaves
2 sprigs thyme
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh breadcrumbs, mixed with a little olive oil and salt
Fry the sausages gently in a little olive oil until lightly browned, then allow them to cool. Slice thickly and set aside. Reserve all the fat and juices.
Fry the carrot, celery, onion and pancetta in the olive oil over medium heat for around ten minutes until soft. Add the passata and the stock.
Add the sausage and juices, beans, bay leaf and thyme. Simmer for half an hour, then season with salt and pepper to taste.
A few minutes before the end of the cooking time, preheat the grill to its highest setting.
Sprinkle the mixture with the breadcrumbs and finish off under the grill, removing when the breadcrumbs are golden brown.
Huevos Rancheros with Chorizo
2 fresh (uncured) chorizo, sliced
1/2 onion, peeled and chopped
1/2 red chilli, sliced
1/2 red pepper, chopped
200g chopped tomatoes from a tin
1–2 sprigs oregano, chopped
This classic Hispanic breakfast dish, which uses fresh chorizo and will set you up for the day nicely. You will need a small to medium frying pan with a lid.
Fry the sliced sausages for a few minutes over moderate heat, then add the onion, chilli and pepper and continue to fry for five minutes or so, until the fat has been released from the chorizo. Give the mixture an occasional stir.
Add the tomatoes, oregano and a little salt if you wish. Simmer for ten minutes. Make two indentations in the sauce and break in the eggs.
Place the lid on the pan and continue to cook over low to moderate heat for three to five minutes until the eggs are done to your liking.
Place the pan on the table and serve yourselves. Warm corn tortillas are an essential accompaniment.
Vienna Macaroni cheese
1 cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets
300g dry macaroni
200g cream cheese
6 Frankfurters, sliced
100ml cre`me frai^che
salt and white pepper
mature Cheddar cheese for grating on top
Boil the cauliflower for three or four minutes in a large saucepan.
Immediately cool under a cold tap, leaving the hot water in the pan.
Cook the macaroni in the cauliflower water until al dente, then drain it and return it to the saucepan. Add the cream cheese, Frankfurters, cauliflower, crème fraîche, salt and white pepper and stir over very low heat until the cream cheese has melted. This should take about a minute.
Preheat the grill to its highest setting.
Transfer the contents of the saucepan to an oven dish. Grate a generous layer of Cheddar cheese on top, then brown under the grill and serve.
Chorizo & Goat’s Cheese tart
The Pastry (enough for 1 tart)
120g plain flour
25g grated Parmesan cheese
pinch of salt
a little grating of nutmeg
2 egg yolks from large eggs
1/2 the white from a large egg
1 large red pepper
120g creme fraiche
1 large egg with 1 extra yolk
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
salt and freshly ground black pepper
150g goat’s cheese, crumbled
200g fresh or cured chorizo, sliced or diced
1/4 teaspoon ground pimento or any other good-quality paprika, smoked or unsmoked (according to taste)
Goat’s cheese goes particularly well with chorizo. You can roll out the pastry, make the filling and bake this tart in less than an hour. Use a shallow, non-stick pizza pan with a 1cm lip, approximately 1cm deep and 28cm across.
First make the pastry. Sieve the flour onto your kitchen work surface. Cut the butter into pieces and place on top of the flour along with the cheese, salt and nutmeg. Rub the ingredients together with the tips of your fingers until all the lumps of butter and cheese have melted into the mix. This will take a few minutes.
Make a well in the centre of the mix and fill it with the two yolks and the egg white. Work the egg in with your fingers, then gather the pastry into a ball and work it with the heel of your hand for 30 seconds. Use the pastry itself to mop up any loose bits of dough that adhere to your work surface. Work the pastry again for a minute, then shape into a ball, wrap in clingfilm and store in the fridge until you need it (you can make the pastry the day before you cook the tart).
When ready to make the tart, roll out the pastry to the approximate size of the pizza pan, lay it over it and press it down into the pan. Don’t worry about trimming it around the sides unless you feel the need strongly.
Preheat the oven to 240ºC. Bake the red pepper for 15 minutes until charred, then leave it to cool. Peel the skin away, remove the seeds and slice the pepper into thin strips. Reduce the oven temperature to 200ºC.
Mix the crème fraîche, egg, thyme and seasoning together with a fork or whisk. Spread the mixture onto the pastry, making sure it goes all the way to the sides. Sprinkle the goat’s cheese evenly on top, then lay over the roasted pepper strips in a haphazard manner, followed by the chorizo. Powder the surface with pimenton and bake for 15–20 minutes until the chorizo is nice and browned. Eat while still warm.
It’s worth looking out for Hodgins Craft Butchers
in Mitchelstown 025 24696, Woodside Farm in Midleton 0872767206 and Gubeen Farmhouse Products in West Cork 028 27824 – they all produce really good sausages.Matthew Dillon
, founding director of Organic Seed Alliance is the keynote speaker at the Organic Trust AGM at the Grain Store at Ballymaloe House on Sunday 7th November at 2pm. Organic Seed Alliance is– a public non-profit organisation that engages in education, research, advocacy with farmers to develop regenerative, farmer oriented and ethical seed systems. Not to be missed. 021 4652531.
The three Douglas Markets
have merged into one terrific market. There are over 40 stalls including Annie’s Roasts from East Ferry with her delicious free range chickens and ducks from her family farm freshly cooked on the rotisserie at the market. There’s fresh fish from West Cork, farmhouse cheese, freshly baked Arbutus Breads, lots of local fresh farm produce… Every Saturday outside the Douglas Court Shopping Centre from 10am – 2pm.Contact Rupert at email@example.com