Friday, 26 October 2012

Dragon Tails of the River Bank

Well to cut a long story short, my mate Graham and I decided to go fishing.  It was a trip for my birthday so I took the camping stove and cooking kit with me as we would be there all day and I thought we'd have a nice cooked lunch.  Sausages of course!

I packed half a dozen Meatline's Welsh Dragons just for the heck of it!  However knowing Graham likes fully flavoured and spicy food I didn't mention before hand these sausages come with a kick, just so I could gauge his reaction.  

Three each then pan fried on the river bank.

Eating these "outdoors" proved to be an excellent experience, blowing and munching we devoured four of these fiery monsters in some good quality soft rolls followed by a cup of tea (mind you I couldn't taste the tea having had my taste buds partially seared by the chilli) then we sat back.  Reaction from Graham...silence!  They must have hit the spot then!
After a few minutes, OK yes, let's have the other two!  

The verdict.  Excellent, we must do these again.  They did taste slightly different to when we sampled them in the kitchen though which was strange, perhaps a week in the freezer has increased the time before ignition a little bit, but don't get me wrong, they were particularly good.  It just seemed that it took a few bites more this time before the fire started!

As for the fishing, not a great day, but the dragons certainly made up for it!

See our full review and others at 

Friday, 19 October 2012

Fry, Grill, Poach or Bake

Some time ago I read a piece in the Guardian online titled "How to cook the perfect sausage" which sort of answered a question that I've been asking myself recently, whether actually frying, grilling, poaching or baking sausages is the best approach and gets superior results.

The article's conclusion was somewhat loose, but suggested frying was best.  However we've sampled a few sausages lately and had serious sausage rupturing happen on a few examples when pan frying.  Same pan, same oil type, same temperature, same rupturing, so is there a better way.

The particular Guardian article also covered all about whether to prick sausages before cooking but we'll park that for now and concentrate on the cooking processes.  As I recall the author did a test in cooking a couple of sausages by each method comparing results, which intent is to try myself.

Frying method, straightforward enough.  Grilling (broiling if you're non-UK) same.  Poaching?  In terms of clarifying what is meant here this is perhaps a double-cook technique that Heston Blumenthal would evidently be proud of.  Poaching sausages in 65° C water for 20 minutes, then frying them off in a hot pan.  Not quite "sous vide" as it will be without the vacuum bag!  Baking (roasting) in the oven, for approx 20-25 minutes at pre-heated 180° C / Gas 4.

So with a pack of decent "everyday sausages", AKA Priors Hall Farm - Traditional Porks, let me in the kitchen, I may be some time...

Observations and results then...

Right to left: FRY, GRILL, POACH, BAKE

BAKING: Roasting really and this isn't rocket science so as per the above. Quite a bit of run off of fat in to the dish. The flavour was drier and the bite, well you could feel a slight bagginess.  The skins though noticeably toughened, wrinkled up (no splits) and the weight loss the highest of all the methods was 26% (see table below).

POACHING: OK this is not just poaching as it involved frying off at the end in a hot pan, and the results were interesting as the skins were less tough than the BAKE and the GRILL but the sausage was very moist and succulent.  Noticeable was a small number of oil droplets in the water that will have been released from the sausage and when drained there was a definite "paleness".  When fried off though, the colouring changed dramatically.  No splits. Weight loss 8%.

GRILLING: This is broiling for non-UK peeps.  I see that "heat from above" = Broiling, and "heat from beneath" = Grilling.  So as I'm in the UK, I bunged it under the grill!  The skin toughened, with a minor split, the bite was firmer and the taste became sharper.  Quite a bit of run off of fat in to the grill pan.  Weight loss 18%.

FRYING: Using our normal sampling method results were much the same as when we tested these sausages in May 2012.  Good taste and medium bite/soft(ish) skin.  Minor split.  Weight loss 9%.

Method     Before    After Net
Bake  75g      55g -26%
Poach           72g      66g -8%
Grill                75g      61g  -18%
Fry                75g      68g -9%

So what's the preference?
 Well the POACHING method did produce a really succulent result with similar weight loss to frying, no splits or ruptures but the extra "work" and saucepan/thermometer time was a pain.  If you've got the time Sausage Review can confirm that this method works. 

Let's face it though FRYING for us when doing our sampling is still the most effective, splits and all, but each to their own I suppose. 

See our sausage reviews at

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Chipolata Fest

We've had a bit of a "chipolata fest" recently tasting some fine examples.

See our full review and others at

Black Farmers Daughter
Premium pork chipolatas the packaging says with "flavours without frontiers" and gluten free too!  Mind you soya flour as an alternative ingredient should be interesting then...

Simon Dennis (Sawbridgeworth)
These are yet again a proper no nonsense sausage from Simon Dennis of Sawbridgeworth.  The seasoning was spot on with enough lingering spice taste on the palette after eating.  Minimum 75% meat within natural sheeps casings...

Giggly Pig (Romford)
We made the trip over to Harold Hill, Romford recently to check out Giggly Pig and buy a selection for tasting.  A good selection too was obtained along with the chipolatas, more about we'll cover separately...

Quality & Excellence
(Theydon Bois)
The Theydon Flyer - 
On the personal recommendation from a friend and business associate we called in to Quality & Excellence's Family Butchers in Theydon Bois to catch a THEYDON FLYER or two...