I’ve written before about some of the Christmas traditions our family had. One is that we always have piroshki on Christmas Eve. The second is that we ALWAYS have sausage rolls for breakfast on Christmas Day. Always. And usually home made. By me.
These traditions endure today.
I think I was about 15 when I took over sausage roll making duty. There were some good years, some great years and some ordinary years (thinking the year of the shortcrust pastry – nope, don’t do it).
Then there was the year a family member asked me to provide them with sausage rolls despite making it clear I wasn’t invited for breakfast! (But I was invited for a very fabulous lunch so all was forgiven).
The filling has varied from the traditional beef to chicken and now, in more recent years, pork. My favourite combo is pork with fennel seed, so that has had a run the last few years. And will be on the Christmas breakfast table again this year.
As today is 1 December, and my twitter feed is full of people doing Christmassy things, I thought I would join in.
A musical background of Handel’s Messiah and Harry Belafonte singing Christmas carols, inspired me to get a bit of a head start on cooking this year.
First up is a batch of sausage rolls. (Actually, this sounds like a day of baking treats – it’s not. There is no second up).
The plan is to make a big batch and pop a few in the freezer for the big day, but honestly, I doubt they will last. Hubby and Mr13 were pretty excited when I told them I was making these today.
Sausage rolls are a treat here as I usually only make the 2-3 times a year, if that. While I do occasionally make a few concessions to health (by which I mean adding a cursory grated carrot), usually I don’t. Hence they are made rarely.
This time I used butter puff. Yes, it is as good as it sounds. I found some in my local supermarket (not the one I usually go to) and was intrigued. Mainly as I had naively assumed all commercial puff pastry was made from butter. Oh not so. Not so AT ALL.
Ingredients in butter puff pastry: wheat flour, unsalted butter (25%), water, salt, food acid (300, 330).
Ingredients in “regular” puff pastry: wheat flour, water, margarine [vegetable fats and oils, water, salt emulsifiers (471, soy lecithin), food acid (330), flavour, antioxidant (306), colour (160a)], salt, food acids (300, 330).
With all those ingredients in the “regular” puff, I’m surprised it’s the cheaper version (not really)!! So butter puff is twice the price, but so worth it. I did a taste test with regular puff in the freezer and the butter puff. No prizes for guessing which tastes better.
Recipe: Pork and fennel sausage rolls
by Mel Kettle, The cook’s notebook
What you need:
- 5-6 sheets of puff pastry (go for butter puff – you won’t regret it)
- 500g pork mince
- 500g good quality pork and fennel sausages (or just plain pork), sausage meat removed from the casing
- 1 largish onion, finely diced
- 3 tbs tomato sauce
- 2 tbs Worcestershire sauce
- 1.5 cups of fresh breadcrumbs
- 2tsp fennel seed
- 1tsp crushed chilli flakes
- 1tsp cracked black pepper
- 2 eggs
- splash of milk
What you do:
- If the puff pastry is frozen, take the sheets out to defrost on the bench – beware that the butter puff is much softer than the regular puff and needs to be handled as little as possible. If it’s a warm day, defrost two sheets at a time, they don’t take long.
- Preheat the oven to 180c
- In a large mixing bowl, add the mince, sausage meat, onion, sauces, breadcrumbs, fennel seed, chilli, pepper and 1 egg.
- Mix together well using your hands – a spoon just doesn’t do it. You need to get your fingers squishy in it. It’s therapeutic. Trust me.
- I usually take a small amount of the meat (about a walnut sized ball) and cook it into a mini-burger so I can tell if the meat has enough seasoning and flavour
- Take one sheet of puff pastry and cut it in half along the middle.
- Take about 2/3 cup of filling mixture and roll it into a sausage so it fits along the long edge of the pastry. Roll it up so the long sides of the join together to form a seam. Place the seam side on a chopping board and cut into either four or six pieces (I prefer six). Place them on a lined baking tray, slightly spaced apart.
- With a fork, place two pricks into each sausage roll.
- Crack the second egg into a small bowl and mix together with a splash of milk. Use a pastry brush to brush some of the egg wash over each piece of sausage roll.
- Repeat with all the pastry and filling.
- Bake at 180c for 25-35 minutes until golden and flaky on top.
Eat with your sauce of choice.
My favourite way to eat them is with tomato sauce with a dollop of dijon mustard or a teeny smidge of hot English mustard.
If it’s Christmas day, serve with champagne. Hold the OJ.