There are two things that almost always make me feel better–Neil Young and sausage rolls. Before I moved to the U.K., I rarely ate pork. I grew up in Los Angeles where turkey bacon and chicken sausage were the norm. It’s not that I never ate pork, I just rarely did. For me, it was something to be enjoyed but once a year, usually covered in a spicy vinegary Carolina barbecue sauce on the fourth of July.
My first year in London, I went pork crazy. A fact I attribute to our flat’s proximity to The Ginger Pig. I wanted bacon every weekend and pork chops most nights. Fish? Sure. Just cook it with some chorizo. Then I discovered sausage rolls. Which can be horrible, but when done right are divine.
For a long time I stayed away as my only reference was the pre-packaged kind I saw in the refrigerator aisles of supermarkets. The pastry looked sad. The meat inside seemed a better fit for house pet consumption than human.
Eventually, it was a sausage roll from a local cafe that changed my mind.
Sausage rolls are amazing because they are made with humble ingredients but yield a taste that is all luxury. They are the ultimate bar snack or perfect picnic food. Or in our house, my daughter’s favourite for weekend tea.
Below is my recipe. It doesn’t call for homemade puff pastry because at 35, I cannot be bothered. Father Time is robbing me blind and I have got to get on with other things. But if you have it on hand or like to make it, please do.
1 sheet of puff pastry
700 grams of sausage (I use my favourite sausages instead of plain minced pork because I like the way they’re seasoned)
6 rashers of pancetta or bacon
1 small tart apple (I use a cox)
1 small bulb of fennel and its fronds, chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon Tio Pepe sherry or dry white wine
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon toasted fennel seeds, ground
1 piece of toast put through a food processor and turned into breadcrumbs
fennel pollen (optional)
Pre-heat the oven to Gas 4/350°F/177°C.
Fry the pancetta in a skillet. When it’s done, remove the rashers but keep the grease. Roughly chop the pancetta and place it in a large bowl.
Cook the onion and fennel in the bacon dripping. Add the sherry and cook a minute more with the thyme.
Put the onions, fennel, thyme, and fennel fronds in the bowl with the pancetta. Add the bread crumbs. Squeeze the meat out of the sausage casings and add this as well, along with 1 egg, the apple, some seasoning, and a pinch of fennel pollen if you have it. Mix well with your hands.
Unroll the puff pastry. Fill the center of it with the sausage mixture. Roll it up.
Lightly beat the 2nd egg and brush it on top of the pastry. Don’t use all of it. Just enough to lightly coat it. Sprinkle with seeds and cut into pieces. Usually 8 -10.
Bake for approximately 40 minutes or until golden brown.
While you can eat these hot, I think they taste better at room temperature and dipped in brown sauce or your favourite relish.