Sunday, December 29, 2013

Craving Sausage Rolls!

There are three foods I associate with Christmas. Christmas Pudding, Mince Pies, and Sausage Rolls. Of these sausage rolls are not solely Christmas food as they are available all year. However they take on a special place on the Christmas buffet. A Sausage Roll hot out of the oven is glorious, and, if you add a dab of mustard it moves to the transcendent.

For all their apparent simplicity - they are merely sausage meat wrapped in pastry, a decent sausage roll in the U.S. has eluded me. It's not the pastry that is the problem, but the sausage meat. American sausage meat has different seasonings and a different Meat to Fat ratio. American sausage meat is delicious, but it is not the taste I am looking for in a sausage roll.

I had resigned myself to a Sausage Roll free existence, and most of the time I have been o.k. with that, but for some reason this Christmas has filled me with nostalgia and homesickness more than usual.

I made the Christmas Pudding and the Mince Pies, but I was unsure how to get Sausage Rolls. Now I can purchase them in town but they are expensive and not always available. A 4 pack of Sausage rolls costs $10. Also, due to import regulations they are actually made in Florida. The taste is similar, but not quite right.

This year I was determined to find another way. I knew the sausage meat would be the issue, and making it would be compounded by the fact that I don't own a meat grinder, but I was determined, and so, after much research I am proud to present to you my Sausage Roll Recipe!!!

Sausage Rolls (makes approximately 24)
2lbs Boneless Pork Shoulder Butt Country Style Ribs
1 box Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets - defrosted overnight.
2 3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground sage
1/8 tsp ground mace or fresh ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp white (or black) pepper
1/4 cup bread crumbs (I used Panko)
1/3 cup cold water.

(every butcher in the U.K. has his own seasoned sausage meat that he swears is the best, so feel free to vary the seasoning. Next time I make them I will probably increase the amount of sage. I may also mince some onion and saute it until soft and then add it to the sausage meat)

Cube the Pork into 1 to 2 inch cubes. If you see any larger tough sections of fat do not discard them, but cut them smaller.
Toss the meat in the salt, ginger, sage, nutmeg and pepper.
Place them on a baking sheet covered with foil so they do not touch and put the tray into the freezer for 20 minutes to firm up.

This partial freezing is the key to grinding the meat in a food processor. After 20 minutes place 1/5 of the meat into the food processor and pulse till finally ground. Transfer to a bowl and repeat 4 times.

The sausage meat needs to be ground enough so it is resembles a coarse mince. To much time in the processor will cause the meat to go slimy and gummy.

As you add the meat to the bowl of the food mixer be on the lookout for any extra large lumps. You can blitz them by themselves in the food processor to make sure they are ground well. Nobody likes lumps in their sausage. For some reason in my family a lump in a sausage was called an Elephant. I have absolutely no idea why!

Once it has all been processed transfer the meat into the bowl of a food mixer with the paddle attachment. Add the bread crumbs and the water and mix for about a minute.

(At this stage you can store the meat in the fridge for a couple of days.)

Take one of the packets of puff pastry and roll it out on a floured board until it is the size of a tea towel. Cut the pastry into 2 long rectangles and put 1/4 of the sausage meat down the middle of each rectangle.

Using egg wash or milk, brush one side of the rectangle and roll up lengthwise. I cut each long roll into 6 equal parts, but of course the size is really up to you.

Take the other packet of puff pastry and repeat with the rest of the sausage meat. Place the sausage rolls on a baking sheet - either well greased, or covered with parchment or silpat, and brush with egg wash or milk.

Bake in a 350F oven for approximately 25-30 mins. Rotating the trays top to bottom and front to back half way through. Do not make the sausage rolls to thick or the meat may not cook thoroughly. Check with a meat thermometer if you have any doubts. The sausage meat will still look slightly pink in the middle.

When they are a delicious brown, remove from the oven and carefully transfer to a wire rack.

These can be eaten hot or cold. Refrigerate any leftover rolls...though I doubt they will stick around that long.

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