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~Light & Flaky Pastry-Wrapped British-Sausage Rolls~

IMG_6990Once upon a time in 1996, while sitting in a British pub in proximity to the British National Museum, while pondering what to order with our pints, a nice guy sitting next to us recommended the sausage rolls.  As Americans, Joe and I consider sausage mostly a breakfast food, but, we didn't hesitate to place the order based on the recommendation (traveling teaches that locals will never steer you wrong).  I hoisted my brew in a manner to toast the nice guy and waited, patiently, for the pub grub to be delivered, which in terms of time, was about three slurps of suds.

IMG_7055"Let's stop & take a break for a sausage roll."

IMG_7035America eats pigs-in-a-blanket.  The U.K eats sausage rolls.  

IMG_6982British sausage rolls are the most popular grab-and-go snack food in the United Kingdom.  It doesn't matter where you are, they are there. Resemblant of the American hotdog, they're sometimes served in small pieces as an appetizer, sometimes in one larger hotdog-sized roll as a main course.  They're sold in almost every pastry shop and pub on almost every street in almost every neighborhood.  When served with sides, mushy peas and chips (fries) are standard fare.  For condiments, for dipping, drizzling or dolloping, tangy-brown British HP sauce, Coleman's English mustard and piccallili (a chunky, vibrant-turmeric-yellow semi-sweet Branston pickle condiment) are the most common and popular.

Light & flaky puff pastry wrapped around a savory pork filling.

IMG_7037Puff pastry is the standard for sausage rolls because the buttery layers bake up light and flaky -- shortcrust pastry can't and won't yield the same result, so, don't be inclined to make that substitution.  Luckily, high-quality, store-bought puff pastry sheets are available everywhere, which makes making sausage rolls in the home kitchen a breeze without any compromise in end result.

IMG_7043British sausage, depending on where you are, varies in taste and texture throughout the U.K. Example: Cumberland sausage, Gloucester sausage, Lincolnshire sausage, Manchester sausage, Marylebone sausage, Oxford sausage, Suffolk sausage, Yorkshire sausage, etc.  This allows any cook creative license in terms of add-ins: aromatics (garlic, onion, celery, carrots, bell pepper, apple etc.) and fresh or dried herbs and spices (black pepper, fennel, mace, marjoram, sage, thyme, clove, ginger, nutmeg, etc.).  I like to start with ground pork (not pork sausage) to make sausage rolls.  Adding my own blend of spices renders these:  amazing.

Once assembled, sausage rolls can be baked as a single piece, and then sliced into smaller portions after baking.  It can also formed into single, appropriate-sized portions for a single serving.  Another alternative is to slice a single log prior to baking to serve as an hors d'oeuvre. They definitely taste best served the same day they are baked, but, they can be assembled a day or two ahead and kept in the refrigerator until you're ready to bake and serve them.  To answer your question:  No, I do not like sausage rolls that have been frozen days or weeks prior to baking, because they taste like any other random frozen fast-food:  compromised.  Freezing any longer than the requisite 45-60 minutes to firm them up to a sliceable state is a mistake.

IMG_7024For my British-style fennel & herbaceous sausage rolls: 

IMG_69242  pounds ground pork

2  teaspoons fennel seeds

1  teaspoon each:  garlic and onion powder

1  teaspoon dried sage

1  teaspoon herbes de Provence (a blend of rosemary, marjoram, thyme and savory) 

1  teaspoon each: coarse-grind black pepper and sea salt

1  17.3-ounce box puff pastry

1  extra-large egg

IMG_6929 IMG_6929 IMG_6929~ Step 1.  In a medium- medium-large bowl, place the ground pork and all the spices as listed.  Using your hands, thoroughly (I cannot stress thoroughly enough here) blend the spices into the pork.  Set the mixture aside about 30 minutes, to give the flavors time to marry, then, using your hands, give it one more thorough mix.  Divide the mixture in half.  If you have a kitchen scale, now is the time to use it.

IMG_6938 IMG_6938 IMG_6938~ Step 2.  Ready two large pieces of plastic wrap.  Using your hands, rough-shape/form each half of the sausage into a 10"-10 1/2" log shape.  Roll and wrap the sausage logs up tightly and secure them at both ends.  Refrigerate until chilled through, for 4-6 hours or overnight.  Overnight is best.

IMG_6947 IMG_6947 IMG_6947 IMG_6947~Step 3.  Lightly dust a  pastry board with a bit of flour. Remove one pastry from packaging and place, lengthwise, on prepared board.  Using fingertips, carefully open the tri-folded sheet.  Using a small rolling pin, roll the pastry into a rectangle that is slightly longer than the sausage logs, approximately 11" x 18".  Slice the pastry in half, to form two long 5 1/2" x 18" pieces.  

IMG_6959 IMG_6959 IMG_6959 IMG_6959 IMG_6959~Step 4.  In a small bowl, crack and vigorously beat the egg with a fork.  Unwrap the sausage logs and position one log on each of the two pastry halves, about 1" from the edge of the pastry.  Using a pastry brush, paint a 1" strip along the opposite edge.  Lift the edge of the pastry closest to the sausage up and over the sausage and continue to tightly roll the log up in the pastry, ending with the log on the edge that has been painted with the egg.  Lift the painted edge up over the log and pinch the seam and the left-and-right end flaps closed.

IMG_6974~ Step 5.  Place the pastry-wrapped logs side-by-side, seams-side-down on a 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan that has been lined with parchment paper.  Using the pastry brush, paint the entire surface of each log with beaten egg.  Place the pan in the freezer for 45-60 minutes, to harden the pastry and firm up the meat a bit. Do not be inclined to skip this step, as this step is what makes the logs easy to slice into appetizers.

IMG_6977 IMG_6977~ Step 6.  Line a second 17 1/2" x 12 3/4" baking pan or two smaller 12 1/2" x  8 3/4" pans with fresh parchment.  Slice each log into 12 pieces and place pieces, 1"-1 1/2" apart on prepared baking pan(s).  Bake in 375º oven, until pastry is puffed and golden and sausage is cooked through (160º on an instant-read meat thermometer), 30-35 minutes.  Remove from oven and transfer to wire rack to cool-slightly or completely.

Serve warm or at room temp the same day they're baked: 

IMG_7046Light & Flaky Pastry-Wrapped British-Sausage Rolls:  Recipe yields 2 dozen appetizers.

Special Equipment List:  kitchen scale; plastic wrap; 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan; parchment paper; large pastry board; rolling pin; fork; pastry brush; instant-read meat thermometer; wire cooling rack

6a0120a8551282970b01bb09e52a61970dCook's Note: We all have our favorite breakfast and brunch casserole recipes -- I'd be lost without mine. They taste great, they're easy to prepare, and, some can even be made ahead, but, let's face it: casseroles aren't elegant. They are: low-key, family-style, comfort food -- the blue jeans of the food world, so to speak.  Newsflash: Occasionally, it's necessary to dress up -- and that extends to the food. Try my pretty-as-a-picture recipe for ~ Sweet Sausage, Apple & Cheddar Puff Pastry Braid ~.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2019)


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