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Under the skin: Rachel Allen's homemade sausages

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Rachel Allen

Rachel Allen

Rachel Allen's sausages

Rachel Allen's sausages

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Rachel Allen

I am rarely as comforted by food as when I'm eating a plate of juicy sausages, covered in gravy with some creamy spuds. It isn't complicated, nor is it sophisticated, but it always brings me such warmth and pleasure. Any butcher should be able to make a good sausage, but making your own allows you to put just what you'd like in them, and more to the point, it's lots of fun!

Making your own sausages is a piece of cake really, especially if you've already minced the meat. Sausages don't need to be wrapped in casings, and are just as good without. The casings are only really useful if you're making lots of sausages that you'll be keeping for a little while. However, filling the casings requires a sausage stuffer, which is not a piece of kitchen equipment that most people will get much use out of!

I reckon there's a different sausage to suit each mood and almost every occasion. When you're making your own, you can decide whether they're chunky and rustic, or delicate and refined.

Pork is the superstar of the sausage world. The meat is, of course, juicy and sweet, so sausages made solely from pork meat can be just divine, with only a couple of herbs or spices for flavourings and sometimes none at all.

It's the pig fat, though, that is so important to sausages. It is just the right consistency when it is cool, then it melts upon cooking to ensure that the sausage is good and moist, rather than unappealing and dry.

When you're making sausages with just pork meat, it should be quite fatty mince - at least 15-20pc fat will ensure a delicious sausage. If you're using other meats, you will often need to add even fattier pork meat, and sometimes even pork fat itself. This is particularly true with an especially lean meat such as venison, which will need all the help it can get to make a properly juicy sausage.

Pork and fennel sausages

(Pictured)

Serves 4.

Makes 12 sausages.

You will need:

450g (1lb) fatty minced pork, see my Tip, above

50g (2oz) fresh white breadcrumbs

1-2 teaspoons toasted and ground fennel seeds

1 egg, beaten

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

Rocket leaves, to garnish

Spiced aubergine, to serve. See recipe below

In a large bowl, mix the minced pork with the fresh white breadcrumbs, the ground fennel seeds and the beaten egg. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, then mix everything together well. Using dampened hands, shape the mixture into 12 evenly sized sausages. These can be placed in the fridge or frozen until you are ready to cook them (defrost them before use).

To cook the sausages, pour the olive oil into a large frying pan on a low heat, add the sausages and gently fry them for 12-15 minutes, turning regularly, until they are evenly golden and cooked through. Garnish with a few rocket leaves and serve with spiced aubergine, see recipe below.

 

Spiced Aubergine

Serves 6.

 

You will need:

500g (1lb 2oz) aubergines, cut into 2cm (¾in) slices

3 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1½ tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

6 cloves of garlic, mashed or finely grated

50ml (2fl oz) water

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds

2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds

350g (¾lb) very ripe tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped; or 1 x 400g (14oz) tin tomatoes with 1 teaspoon sugar

1 tablespoon freshly ground coriander seeds

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Sea salt

50g (2oz) raisins

 

Add the aubergine slices to a bowl, and drizzle over the olive oil. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and toss everything together until the aubergine slices are lightly coated in oil.

Place a frying or grill pan on a high heat and when it is good and hot, add a few aubergines slices. Cook them for about five minutes on each side until they are golden, lightly charred and very tender. They shouldn't have any firmness left - if they're not soft, then continue to cook them until they are. Put the aubergine slices on paper towels when they're done and set them aside. Repeat with a few more aubergine slices and continue to cook until all the aubergine slices have been cooked.

Next, place the chopped fresh ginger, the mashed or finely grated garlic, whichever you're using, and the water in a blender or small food processor and whizz until smooth.

Add the two tablespoons of olive oil to a clean frying pan and place it on a medium heat. When it's hot, add the whole fennel seeds and the whole cumin seeds. Stir for a few seconds, then add the chopped tomatoes, or the tinned tomatoes and sugar, whichever you are using, the ginger and garlic mixture, the ground coriander seeds, the cayenne pepper and the sea salt. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally until the mixture thickens slightly - this should take about five minutes.

Add the fried aubergine slices and the raisins and stir to coat.

Cover, then reduce the heat and cook for five minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature with the cooked pork and fennel sausages.

Venison sausages with celeriac puree

Serves 4-6.

Makes 12 sausages.

You will need:

25g (1oz) butter

1 onion, peeled and diced

300g (11oz) venison, minced or pulsed in a food processor

200g (7oz) minced pork (at least 20pc fat)

50g (2oz) fresh white breadcrumbs

1 egg, beaten

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed, or finely grated

1 tablespoon chopped rosemary leaves

1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

For the celeriac puree

1 celeriac, peeled and chopped into 1-2cm (½-¾in) dice

2 floury potatoes, peeled and cut into 1cm (½in) dice

400ml (14fl oz) milk

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons cream

15g (½oz) butter

To make the sausages, melt the butter in a large frying pan on a medium-high heat, then add the diced onion and fry, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes until slightly golden. Set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix together the minced venison, the minced pork, the fresh white breadcrumbs, the beaten egg, the crushed or finely grated garlic, whichever you're using, the chopped rosemary leaves, and the wholegrain mustard. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, then add the cooled onions that you fried earlier to the mixture. If the mixture is very wet, add a few more breadcrumbs.

Preheat the oven to 200°C, 400°F, Gas 6. Put a little bit of the mixture in the frying pan and cook it for 1-2 minutes to check for seasoning. Adjust if necessary. Shape the sausage mixture into about 12 sausages. Pour the olive oil into the frying pan and, on a medium heat, brown the sausages on all sides. Then put them on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 10 minutes or until cooked through.

For the puree, place the diced celeriac and the diced potatoes in a large saucepan, then pour over the milk to just cover them. Simmer on a medium-low heat for about 15 minutes, then drain and mash very well. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, then add the cream and the butter. Unless you're serving the puree immediately, place it in a covered, ovenproof dish and keep it warm in the oven after the heat has been switched off.

Serve the venison sausages with a good spoonful of celeriac puree.

Sunday Independent