The good people of Britain have a lot of love for savoury meat and pastry products. From the pork pies up north to the pasties down south, we just love to stuff our meat into pastry. It doesn’t matter which part of the country you hail from though, everybody loves a sausage roll. We’re basically raised on them. Sausage rolls are at pretty much every kids party, buffet and picnic we attend. And they’re not just for special occasions. You can get your daily dose of sausage roll in any supermarket, corner shop or bakery you stumble into.
The discerning consumer will know that there are varying degrees of quality of sausage rolls available ranging from the good, the bad to the god-damn awful. But I think we can all agree that the home made ones are the best.
A bad sausage roll is a thing of party food nightmares. The type of sausage roll with greasy, anemic pastry encasing a turd-like tube of insipid, grey matter masquerading as meat. A good sausage roll is the total opposite: flaky, buttery pastry tenderly wrapped around a filling of full flavoured pork. Mouthwatering and totally moreish!
I had my first professional (ish) rendez-vous with sausage rolls whilst working a Saturday job at a certain, well known high street bakery chain. At 7am we had to load the oven with frozen logs of sausage rolls. They baked alarmingly fast and came out of the oven looking not too dissimilar to when they went in, except for their newly acquired swimming pool of grease. The poster on the wall behind the counter proudly displayed the meat contents of all of the pasties: sausage rolls, 12.5% meat. Not pork, not sausage. Just ‘meat’. It was enough to put me off for life.
I steered well clear from sausage rolls for a long time, until I worked as a pastry chef where I was required to make around 100 a week. These however, were proper sausage rolls. Rare breed, locally reared sausage meat mixed with fresh sage and braised onion and wrapped up with homemade puff pastry. A world away from those flaccid, greasy sausage rolls that turned my teenage stomach so many years ago.
Even though I’ve made roughly 10,000 sausage rolls as a professional chef, I still like to make them at home for my family. They are perfect for parties and even better for picnics.
This recipe uses black pudding, one of my favourite ingredients to work with. It adds richness and a darkly spicy bite which is perfectly complemented by the apple. Use the best sausage meat and you can afford. If you can’t find sausage meat in a packet,you can buy ready made sausages and squeeze the filling out. I don’t bother making the puff pastry myself because life is short and the stuff you can get in the supermarket is absolutely fine.
- 250g sausage meat
- 250g black pudding, crumbled
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 medium apple, diced
- A dollop of wholegrain mustard
- Salt and pepper
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 pack of ready rolled puff pastry
- Mustard seeds (optional)
- Pre-heat the oven to 180°c and line a large baking tray with grease proof paper.
- Sweat the onions in a pan with a little oil for a few minutes to soften, then add the apple. Cook for another minute or so, then set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
- Place the sausage meat, black pudding, mustard, a pinch each of salt and pepper and the apple and onion in a large bowl. Mix together thoroughly with your hands. It’s squidgy and gross but it’s the best way to do it.
- On roll the pastry and cut in half width ways. Spoon half of the sausage mix straight down the middle, in a log shape.
- Brush one side of the pastry with the beaten egg, then bring the other side of the pastry over the meat and press down firmly onto the eggy side.
- Use your fingers to crimp the edges together, then cut the roll into 6 segments.
- Place on a baking tray, evenly spaced, and repeat with the remaining meat and pastry.
- Brush the outside of the rolls with the remaining beaten egg and sprinkle with the mustard seeds if using. Bake for 25-30 minutes. They pastry should be dark, golden brown and the meat should be over 80°c in the centre. Use a digital probe to check.
The sausage rolls are best eaten on the same day but will keep in the fridge for 3 days. If you need to make these ahead of time, or you don’t want to bake a big batch, simply freeze the unbaked sausage rolls on a tray overnight before transferring to a freezer bag or container. Store in the freezer for up to a month. Defrost before baking.