Thursday, 29 November 2012

Cocktail Sausages - what are they all about?

Most supermarkets sell retail packaged uncooked "small sausages", you know the rather pale pink, smooth, industrially produced looking sort, all regimentally aligned in their filmed packaging and all absolutely identical, which do seem to be very popular with children of all ages, and are no doubt a regular staple at your "little ones" birthday parties. However recently I've noticed specifically higher quality "cocktail sausages" appearing on the shelves alongside the more mainstream examples of sausage delight, but they seem to be just a smaller version of a chipolata, but are they?

It seems that a true "cocktail sausage" is something you can serve at a "party" or "soiree" either loose on a serving plate as finger food or with a cocktail stick stuck in each to help you pick them up and dip them.  You would eat these as you would with other delicacies, crudities and canap├ęs, so a small sausage is ideal as it will be easy to eat in one or two bites, with or without a plate.

There appears there are quite a few variations to the theme such as pork, chicken, beef, and no doubt other meats and combinations if you can persuade your local butcher to run you up something different.  I've seen smoked salmon ones too, although I'm not sure about those personally!  There's even Kosher and Halal versions available from the right supplier!
Sauces to accompany these can be quite aromatic and thick such as sticky barbeque, chilli  ketchup, honey mustard or sweet & sour!  The sauces can be intense and strongly flavoured as your guests would perhaps just eat a couple along with the other fare.

We bought a pack of "cocktails" to try and as we are looking for a comparison, a pack of the same producers chipolatas went in to the basket too.  As the cocktail sausages lacked a specific meat percentage content on the label, we decided on a taste and texture comparison.  
Well we'll cut to the chase then.  In a blind tasting of these, I doubt whether you would taste any difference, so there you go!  The casings seem the same dimensionally and quality-wise, so why the extra cost for "cocktail sausages" above regular chipolatas?  Surely the extra twists on a chipolata sausage run for a producer can't amount to nearly an extra £2 / Kg?

I like a challenge, so within less than 5 minutes we've made some "cocktail sausages" out of the chipolatas we bought earlier!  With each chipolata, give each a bit of a squeeze a third of the way along it's length, four twists, move on to the next third and so on.  Cut them carefully apart and in the pan they go!

When cooking I half expected the little darlings to burst as the casings were pretty tight, but all was OK and I'll openly admit given the results from our test and the cost per kilo difference, we'll no doubt be buying chipolatas again to make our own "cocktail sausages" in the future...

See our full review and others at

Friday, 16 November 2012

"Other than pork"

We've been under pressure recently from a journalist friend and colleague to justify why we have been only sampling pork sausage!

He says that there's some really good, well made sausages out there in lamb, chicken and beef varieties...well bowing to his persistence on this we decided to go for it and buy in some "beef & cracked black pepper" just to get us started...

Hmm?  Yes they're OK I suppose but frankly taste and texture-wise I might as well have eaten a reasonable quality "beefburger"!

Now don't get me wrong a very well made sausage, and they cooked up very well and retained a good succulence, however you cannot escape the fact that probably in a blind tasting you wouldn't be able to "taste the difference" between these and a beefburger, even though these were actually Sainsbury's "Taste the Difference" sausages!

We will try some more varieties I'm sure just as our friend and colleague suggests, but I remain sceptical about any sausage "other than pork"....

See our full review and others at