What Christmas is complete without a customary sausage roll? They are offered by the plate full either as canapés or nibbles across the country’s households or they come out steaming hot from the oven late into the evening when you think you’ve just about made room for a little bit more food.
Christmas Day in the Smith-Rolt household definitely centres round the kitchen and all the wonderful smells wafting from the oven before the sun is even up. With 14 mouths to fill, the giant Turkey has to go in at the crack of dawn to be in with a chance of being ready for a late lunch. And more importantly you need the room in the oven to get all the accompaniments cooked! Roast potatoes that haven’t had the chance to properly crisp up just aren’t the same. Plus, you’re increasing the likelihood of an all out fight over the few crispy ones that are on offer. Normally grabbed straight from the oven tray and popped into mouths piping hot! The result of course is that you burn of the top of the mouth but obviously, the pain is totally worthwhile.
At home sausage rolls normally make an appearance late on Christmas Day after everyone has dozed off in the front of the TV and wake feeling a little bit peckish despite the endless amounts of food already consumed. Sausage rolls, cheese boards and homemade chutneys are a definite weakness of mine (and the rest of the family) and slowly everyone gravitates back to the kitchen to congregate round the dining table. Slabs of cheese are hacked at, piled on crackers and biscuits and smothered in red onion chutney. And once the sausage rolls have cooled just enough, they are dipped in tomato ketchup and munched down followed by a smile of pure contentment.
Rich buttery pastry, hot sausage meat and cool tomato ketchup really serve up a simple but delightfully satisfying flavour combination. And I think once you’ve had a go at making them at home, you’ll never go back to the shop-bought version.
It’s actually normally my husband that likes to make the sausage rolls and we actually have a few left from a couple of weeks ago when I said I was going to go to Barnes farmers market to get one for lunch but Will decided instead he would make a batch. They were delicious apple and lemon ones and we’ve got some ready to be defrosted for Christmas Day when we have friends joining us.
However, with four tummies to fill, I think the number in the fridge might not be quite enough for Christmas Day and I’d decided it was about time I made some puff pastry particularly after discovering Delia’s quick flaky pastry which really didn’t look too difficult or time consuming to make.
The puff pastry really wasn’t too challenging and I’m glad I went to the effort to make it myself so that I can genuinely say they are properly homemade.
The rich flaky butter pastry really is the perfect casing to bite through before reaching the sausage which then hits you with a gentle kick from the mustard to wake you up. I like the combination of sausage, bacon, onion and a hit of mustard which harps back to a traditional sausage roll in my opinion. And for me, if you haven’t dipped it in ketchup, then you’re missing out. Plus, it cools the sausage roll down just enough that it might just prevent you burning your mouth, therefore allowing you to actually taste the next three sausage rolls you can’t help but eat!
Sausage Rolls with whole grain mustard, topped with fennel seeds
For the pastry
175g butter, cold
225g plain white flour
Ice cold water
For the filling
450g free range pork sausage meat
100g smoked streaky bacon
1 small onion, diced
4tbsp wholegrain mustard
Good seasoning of pepper
2 medium free range egg yolks, lightly beaten
Splash whole milk
Sprinkling of Sea salt
For the puff pastry
Start by wrapping your butter in foil and pop it in the freezer for about 40-45 minutes so that it is hard before you grate it. The foil will also prevent your hands warming it up whilst you’re grating.
Sift plain flour in a large mixing bowl.
Take the butter out the freezer then using the coarse side of a grater placed in the bowl over the flour, grate the butter. If you’re finding it difficult to grate, Delia suggests dipping the edge of the butter into the flour to make it easier.
Using a palette knife or a metal knife (not your hands because they are too warm), start to distribute the gratings of butter into the flours until the mixture looks crumbly. Try to coat all the pieces of butter (fat) with flour.
You can now use a spoon to sprinkle in one tablespoon of ice cold water at a time. Continue to use the knife and make cutting movements and add a few more drops of water until the mixture just about comes together to form a dough. It shouldn’t be a wet or sticky dough, so be very careful about adding too much water.
Finally bring the mixture together with your hands, it should leave the bowl pretty clean and there shouldn’t be any loose butter or flour anywhere.
The pastry now needs to rest so put it in a polythene bag and chill it in the fridge for about 30 minutes. You could freeze the pastry at this point for use at a later date, but just remember to defrost it thoroughly before rolling it out.
For the filling
Finely dice your onion and cook on a low heat with a little olive oil until they are a golden brown. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Chop your bacon into pieces about 1cm wide and fry until they are cooked through but not crispy. They’ll cook more later.
Remove your sausage meat from the casings and put in a large mixing bowl. Add your cooked onion and bacon followed by your wholegrain mustard and pepper. Mix thoroughly until all the onion, bacon and mustard are well distributed through the mixture.
For the assembly
Pre-heat your oven to 190 degrees C
Sprinkle your work surface with plain flour and roll out your pastry dough to about a pound coin thick and in the shape of a big rectangle, which you can then cut in half (to make two long rectangles).
Roll your sausage mixture into a sausage shape and lay it down the centre of each piece of dough.
Mix your egg and milk and brush the pastry with the mixture, this will be your sticking agent. Fold one side of the pastry over, wrapping the filling neatly inside. You can use your fingers , spoon or a fork to seal the join.
Depending on what you fancy, cut the rolls into whatever size you like and space them out on a baking tray.
Brush them with the rest of the egg (to give them a nice shine) and sprinkle them with the fennel seeds and salt.
Bake for about 20-25 minutes until they have puffed up, look delicious and golden and are cooked through.
Serve with ketchup!