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Finally! Siobhann, Meg and I have been trying to get together to make sausage rolls for weeks now. Various illnesses, time and space travel have stood in our way, but today we managed to all get together and delve in. I’m not sure why we all agreed sausage rolls were next on the to-do list. I know that since the butcher closed in Woodstock, Siobhann has been missing that hit. And after seeing Molly steal one off the plate of another child, I’ve been buying a fair few when out and about. But they’re generally re-heated and limp, with a strangely paste-like pink filling. I want proper pork and light and crispy pastry damnit! Not those weird rolls you’d get in the eighties, that would leave you feeling slightly sick and unaware of what the hell you’d actually consumed apart from the fact that they were warm and salty. Yuck.

So the day of pork arrived, and Siobhann had already been doing the ground-work by her seemingly frequent frequent visits to Callow Farm up the road, as we’d decided to get some casings in order to make sausages as well (more on that in Siobhann’s fervent post), and in doing so, somehow ended up buying more pork. At least a couple of piglets worth.

I came armed with my trusted mincer, some butter and thyme, and Molly. As soon as I walked in we were all of a dither. The Mollys were playing up a bit, they could probably tell that we were excited and it wasn’t necessarily about them. Then Meg and her little girl Iowa turned up. There was much to discuss, and a lot of tea to drink. Then we remembered the reason why we were all gathered, and we started going from one room to the next trying to think about the best way to approach this, with toddlers and with seemingly no plan of attack.

First up, we tackled the meat. I hadn’t used the mincer in a few years, as the last time had put me off as it all got tangled up in sinew and the porky flesh made me feel queasy with the squelching sounds and the swiney aroma. With Molly beside me, we started trying to pump it through the machine. A few minutes of giggling and swearing and we knew we weren’t getting very far, and the thought of sausage rolls for lunch seemed a long way off. Siobhann was keenly sent back to the farm, to request the meat be minced.

In the meantime, we made a start on the pastry. Having not cooked in Siobhann’s kitchen before, I was surprised to find that we could locate all the implements and ingredients. Again, with Molly at my side I started grating the cold butter into the flour, salt and mustard mixture. Molly started eating the butter directly from the grater, and so was more than happy with proceedings. Siobhann then returned with a sack of minced pork and set to making up the filling, whilst the pastry rested in the fridge for half an hour.

All was going smoothly, but the toddlers were beginning to flag due to all our faffing. Iowa was first down, without much complaint. Aussie Molly complained rather (she knew there was more fun to be had), but in the end succumbed. We rolled out the pastry, and started making the rolls. Siobhann rejoined us to finish making the rolls, and then my Molly having uncharacteristically slapped me in the face, was put down for her nap without a fuss in a travel cot in the spare room. I hadn’t realised it was so late, but the slap soon reminded me. I’ll have to work on either my time-keeping, or her manners.

So, all kids were down, and we finished making the rolls. Time would tell…

The recipe we used, was pretty much like-for-like, a Guardian one that came from an article in search of the perfect sausage roll. We did find that we had more filling than pastry left over though, and I rolled it out thinner than they suggested (to about 1/3 cm):

For the pastry:
225g plain flour
Pinch of salt
2 tsp English mustard powder
175g cold butter
1 egg, beaten with a little water and salt

For the filling:
300g pork belly, skin removed, minced
300g pork shoulder, minced
200g smoked streaky bacon, rind removed, finely chopped (although we got ours minced with the rest of the pork)
Zest of 1 lemon
Nutmeg, to grate
2 tbsp roughly chopped thyme leaves
1 tbsp sage leaves, roughly chopped

Sift the flour, salt and mustard powder into a mixing bowl. Grate in the butter (preferably with a greedy toddler’s assistance). Using a knife, mix the butter around until it’s coated in flour. The reason you use a knife rather than your hand is presumably so you don’t warm the butter up, as you want there to be butter lumps, and for it to be a light mixture (and not kneaded) as that’ll make it flakier. Add the cold water bit by bit, this time using your hand, but not overdoing it. You want the dough to form a ball, but not to become too sticky – just wet enough so all the flour comes off the bowl. Cover ball with clingfilm and leave in fridge for half an hour.

Meanwhile, mix all the filling ingredients. We didn’t add salt, largely because we forgot, and in the end it definitely didn’t need it. So although instinct may dictate that salt should be added, all that is required is some black pepper.

Roll out pastry into a rectangle, and cut three lengthways. Smoosh a third of the filling, just off-centre all the way down one piece of pastry. Brush one side of pastry with the beaten egg, roll pastry over to meet other side and press down seam with fork. Repeat with remaining two pieces. Brush all over with the egg, flip logs over, and brush other side. Cut into desired rolls and fork each one; place on greased baking tray. Bake for twenty five minutes in a pre-heated oven at 220c, but definitely not over – we got ours out just in time.

The Verdict

Oh god. These were the best sausage rolls we’d ever eaten. They were sublime. I nearly cried and Siobhann had an epiphany. I implore you. Don’t insult the pig, just make these little beggars and be happy…

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