If you have a butcher who makes beautiful sausages, there is a good chance that all of the meat they sell will be carefully cut, trimmed and presented, for your butcher is an artisan. The sausages will be carefully seasoned and have just the right combination of meat, fat and breadcrumbs. You don't have to do a lot more to them to make a delicious meal.
Unfortunately, most of us have to buy our sausages and sausage meat at the supermarket, and those ones usually need a little help.
"Stay for dinner", said my friend Ailsa, then stretched 500g of sausage meat into a meal to serve four adults and two children. I've used her recipe many times over the 50 years since, and made my own variations. Try it for yourself. These days I use filo pastry.
500g sausages, skinned
1 large apple, cored, grated with skin
1 large onion, peeled and grated or finely chopped
1 large or 2 small carrots, washed and grated with skin
2 thick slices bread
2 raw eggs
2-3 hard-boiled eggs, shelled
Filo pastry and oil to brush it or bought flaky pastry
Preheat the oven to 180C
In a large bowl, place the sausage meat, apple, onion, carrot and crumbed bread.
Beat the raw eggs lightly in another bowl. Reserve 1 1/2 tablespoons for egg wash, and tip the rest into the meat mixture. Mix well, until it is worked together.
Lay two sheets filo on a piece of baking paper. Brush with oil, then place two more sheets on top. Put a layer of meat in the middle third of the pastry, then the hard-boiled eggs in a line. Cover those with more meat mixture. Lift one side of the pastry over the meat, then the other side, to form a large roll, sticking the pastry together with a little egg wash. Carefully turn the roll over, so that the double layer of pastry is on the bottom. It is easy to handle if you roll it over on the baking paper. Stick the open ends together with a little egg wash, roll them up, and crimp them. Make a small hole in the top, then brush the whole thing with egg wash and slide it, baking paper and all, into a shallow oven dish. Bake for about one hour until golden brown and cooked through.
Serve with green vegetables or a salad, and mashed potato. Equally good hot or cold.
1) Leave out the hard-boiled eggs
2) Bake without the pastry, in a baking-paper-lined loaf tin
3) Bake as small individual "pies" or sausage rolls
4) Add 2tsp curry powder when mixing the meat
MY OTHER MOTHER'S OLD-FASHIONED CURRIED SAUSAGES (4 servings)
My husband's darling mother made this one day to serve the next, if she knew she was going to be short of time to cook. She served it with mashed potatoes and chunky carrots.
2 medium onions, peeled and chopped roughly
1 dessertspoon oil
1 teaspoon (or more) curry powder, to taste
2 teaspoons stock powder
salt and pepper to taste
250ml (1 cup) hot water
2 teaspoons flour
1/2 cup frozen peas (optional)
Put the sausages in a saucepan and cover with boiling water. Bring to the boil and gently simmer for five minutes. Drain, transfer to a bowl, and cool.
Mix the hot water and stock powder in a jug, to make a quick stock.
In the same saucepan, heat the oil and fry the onions until they are golden brown. Mix in 1 teaspoon curry powder and cook gently for a few minutes. Add the flour and stir well till it is all well mixed. Start adding the stock, about 100ml at a time. At first it will be lumpy, but keep on stirring until it is smooth, before adding the next 100ml. When you have stirred in the last of the stock, add the frozen peas and correct the seasoning, adding salt, pepper and more curry powder if you need it.
Carefully slit the skins on the sausages then remove and discard it. Slice the sausages diagonally into about 4cm chunks. Put the sausage chunks into the curry sauce, cover and simmer about 30 minutes.
As with most curries, it is better reheated and eaten the next day.
CURRIED SAUSAGE AND VEGETABLES
Cook chunks of seasonal vegetables separately, until tender-crisp. Add to the curry sauce with the sausages. Make sure the veges are colourful - for example peppers, carrots, cauliflower, a few chunks of pumpkin, broccoli, etc.
Add a small tin of pineapple, 1 dessertspoon soy sauce and 1 teaspoon of sweet chilli sauce (or 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger) to Curried Sausage and Vegetables. You may need to add a little vinegar and/or brown sugar to balance and intensify the flavours. Serve with rice or noodles.
QUICK PASTA AND MEATBALLS
6 sausages or 500g sausage meat
1 thick slice fresh bread
2 teaspoons oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 clove garlic, flattened, peeled, and finely chopped
400g tin chopped or diced tomatoes
125g pottle tomato paste
salt, pepper, brown sugar, to taste
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
cooked pasta, your choice
grated parmesan or your favourite cheese to serve.
Preheat oven to 180C
Run the sausages under the cold tap, then cut a slit lengthwise in the skin. You'll find that they peel cleanly. Dip the bread in water to moisten, then squeeze dry. Mix well with the sausage meat, then form the mix into 25-30mm balls. Grease a casserole or deep ovenproof dish with oil, place the sausage balls in it, and bake about 10 minutes, until browned and just set. Shake the pan every few minutes to prevent the food sticking
Heat the oil in a saucepan, and gently fry the onion and garlic until it is translucent. Tip in the tomatoes, tomato paste and herbs. Cook for a few minutes then taste. Add salt, pepper and brown sugar to make it taste how you want it. Pour the mix over the sausage balls and bake for about 30 minutes.
Serve with cooked pasta and a sprinkling of grated cheese.
To add to the vegetable content, grate a carrot or two into the onion/garlic mix before adding the tomatoes. The kids will never know.