Traveling is one of the best ways to learn about food. Eating local cuisines is a joy of discovery. Especially when it is something so meaningful to the visited area. National favorites like Onigiri from Japan, or Pirozhki from Russia, or Sausage Rolls from the UK.
When I went to the UK the first time, I fell in love with Sausage Rolls and Pork Pies. On my return to the UK, I made it a point to try as many different kind of Sausage Roll and Pork Pie as I could. I had to break down what makes an excellent roll or pie, and what kind of work I would have to put into making the perfect roll or pie.
Over the years, my friends and family are given notice when I am making these, so they can try to get in on some of the baked porky goodness. As for Pork pies, they are a lot of work, so I keep them to holidays and special occasions. But Sausage Rolls, well, now, they are much more fun to make, and gosh, just so dang easy to eat. So much so, my daughter recently asked me for my recipe for Sausage rolls. So, all y’all can thank her for this blog.
Sausage Rolls do take some planning, as in time management planning, if they are going to get done in a timely manner.
Mise en place.
For the Sausage: about a pound of ground pork meat, one large yellow or white onion, fresh sage, or parsley, or both,
For the Roll:
Flour, butter, salt, and ice water. Egg wash.
Rough puff is super easy to do. it’s started the same as any pastry dough, use butter (not shortening or butter substitute). I use a food processor, but it isn’t necessary to use one, it is just a time saver for me. I cube up a stick of butter, into 16 cubes, 2 cups of flour and a healthy pinch or two of kosher salt. I turn the food processor on high for about 20 to 30 seconds, or until the butter and flour look like cornmeal with small chunks of butter. I transfer this to a bowl, and add ice water a few tablespoons at a time as I mix the dough by hand. When it all turns into a nice ball, it like it to be a little moist. Then I wrap it in cling film and chuck it in the chill box.
This is a great time to cut up another stick of butter into tiny evenly sliced pads. I dust them with flour and set them aside. Other important right now side-work, preheat oven to 350, have dusting flour available,
Sausage rolls require a tasty sausage. But you can’t just grab a breakfast sausage and roll it in pie crust. Well, yes, you can. And, it is very tasty, a total easy snaky thing. But that’s pigs in a blanket more than a Sausage Roll.
Finely chop the whole onion into tiny bits, more than a basic chop up, less than a mince and put into a large bowl. Then the green herbs, I usually gauge my herbs on how much onion I have. I match the amounts of onion and herbs. If they have the same size pile when I am done chopping, then I call it good. Herbs in the bowl with the onion. Then the meat, salt and pepper. As gently as possible I combine the ingredients. When it looks and feels all blended, I then form the sausages.
I usually use a handful of meat, when I say handful I mean a chunk that I can close my fingers around without it squishing out between my fingers. I bet if I were to actually weigh it, it would be 2 ounces. (Let the snickering begin) I then form the meatwad into a sausage shape, rolling the meat between my hands making the shape of a cylinder. The length of it will be as wide as my hand. I square up the ends as much as possible, making them as uniform as possible. I cook them on a large cookie sheet in the oven. Baked until they are medium to medium well done. If the oven is preheated, then they should be done in about ten to fifteen minutes.
While those are in the oven, I roll the dough. The dough I make is usually pretty wet, so I am liberal with the flour while rolling. If it gets sticky at all, more flour. I roll it out to about 18 x 18 inches. Then I fetch the butter slices I set aside a little while ago and put them side by side making a square sheet of butter in the middle of what I rolled out. Then I fold the sides onto the butter, enveloping the butter in the dough, then roll it out a little more, sealing the envelope. Flip it over! Dust the top of it with flour, and roll it out some more making a long rectangular shape. This is when the folding and lamination begin. Fold into threes, roll out, fold into threes, roll out, fold into threes, wrap in cling film and chill.
Now the sausage rolls should be just about done. I precook the sausage so they don’t cause a soggy bottom in the pastry crust. Plus, they will have shrunk up as much as they are going to so the pastry will fit around each sausage better. I want the meat to be the same temperature as the pastry dough when I wrap the sausages, but I do not rush their cooling time. I leave them out of reach of wandering room mate, and curious guests.
Break time! Put on a record! The Blues Brothers. Dance and sing for a minute.
back to the pastry. It should be chilled enough to work it out a little bit more.so back to the roll into a rectangle, fold in threes, roll into a rectangle, fold into threes, one more time, roll out, fold into threes. Re-wrap and chill for another 15 to 20 minutes.
We have options on the next roll. The dough can be rolled out and cut now, or, more rolling into rectangles, and folding. The more folding, the more layering will occur. I like more layers, so I typically roll and fold three more times before I do my final roll out. Regardless, the meat has to be cool enough to wrap. If the meat isn’t cool enough, it will melt the butter in the pastry dough, and then everything gets weird.
I turn the oven up to 400. The meat is now cool enough to wrap up so I roll out the pastry dough just like I would a pie crust. Same thickness and all. I keep in mind how many sausages I have when I am cutting the pastry. I can fill extra pastry with other yummy things like cheese and onion, or apples, or, whatever else strikes my fancy. As long as I have enough for the Sausage Rolls. I like to cut the pastry into small rectangles for the sausages. I give about 1/2 an inch of pinching space on each side of the sausage. So if the sausage is 5 inches long, I make the pastry sheet for it 6 inches long by 3 wide.
With the small pastry sheet on my hand, I lat the sausage diagonally across the sheet, and them make the edges meet. Pinch the center area first and work out to the ends, then seal the ends by pinching the edges together still. I lay them seam side down onto a baking sheet.
When they are all done, I egg wash them all twice. If the Sausage Rolls are cooked as is, they will puff up and turn into a big pocket of air and meat and grease, so the tops of each roll has to be cut. Just vent the pasty with three marks. I cut the vents by using a sharp blade on the rolls dividing without cutting them into four pieces. in the middle, then in the middle on each side. When they cook, these vents will help keep the pastry close to the meat. My blade is really sharp, so I am basically resting the sharp on the pastry dough.
These get baked until they are all a rich golden brown in color.
The hardest part about these is not eating them immediately. because they are still lava pockets, it’s best to let them rest for about 30 minutes. I like them cold from the chill box, so I make sure I make enough to last that long.