Friday, 15 June 2012

Sausage Rolls

(sorry for the crappy picture. It was taken with my crappy phone because I don't actually own a camera)

We had a picnic for SIFE, a society I belong to, to thank all the advisers/sponsors etc who've helped us through the year. Granted, only one actually turned up (yay Ali of Barefoot Wine! with wine!) but it was an awesome event anyway. This is an annual thing and in the past, they've gone out to dinner, but we decided this year that we would have a picnic where all attending SIFE-ers would bring a dish. Okay, so we did plan this during the heatwave, thinking that it would actually be nice and hot for an actual picnic, so our hopes of having it outside were dashed considering just how awful the weather has been for June. And typical, every day since Tuesday has been really nice and sunny, if still a bit cold.

I like homemade sausage rolls. They're really easy to make, taste fabulous and look impressive; everyone was like 'you made them?' and I only had two left at the end of the night, which I thought was pretty good, considering how much food people brought.

It would have been even more impressive if I had actually made the pastry. I was planning to, partly because I wanted to be able to say that had I made the pastry and people to go 'WOW' in response. Recipe Rifle (as always) has a post on pastry, taken from Delia Smith (her sausage roll recipe is here). Seems simple, right? Just flour, salt, butter and water - doesn't seem there's much room to go wrong. So what do I go and do? Fuck it up. That's right: possibly the easiest recipe I've ever had to follow, and I go and reduce my dough to a mass of crap. How did I manage that, I hear you ask? Too much fucking water. So after swearing at myself, I added a little flour, stirred it around some with my spatula because I don't own a palette knife (I even had to buy a rolling pin for this occasion) and put it into the fridge, hoping that it would dry out so and everything would be all right.

Well, no it wasn't. I added some more flour, stirred it all around some, and then made the second stupid mistake of sticking my fingers into it. Just to be clear, this isn't a post to put you off trying to make your own pastry - quite the opposite. This post is warning you against hosing down your flour-butter mixture like you might do to an almost-dead plant in a last-ditch attempt to resuscitate it. So once you've added in the perfect amount of water, DON'T stick your hands in. Or at least, only put your hands in it at the last possible point and make it QUICK. There's a reason why the butter is frozen and you have to put the whole thing in the fridge. I knew this, and I had been planning on just giving it a squish around, then taking my hands out as soon as possible. What I hadn't anticipated was just how sucky the mixture would be. And I mean the word 'sucky' in the most literal way possible: I literally couldn't get my hands out because the 'dough' (and I'm using the word liberally here; it in no way resembled actual dough) just glued itself to my hands. There was probably more dough on my hands than in the actual bowl.

So I thought that I would give it a go anyway, and spread some flour on my worktop and turned out the mixture. ANOTHER bad idea. I had put a ton of flour on the worktop, knowing how sticky it all was. Didn't make an ounce of difference: I actually had difficulty scrubbing the dough off the worktop when I had had enough and put the whole lot in the bin. But before I did this, I added what seems like at least another 100g of flour, put it all back in the bowl, kneaded it around a little, then back onto the worktop, before then chucking it all.

It still makes me angry thinking about it.

By this point, it was 2pm and the picnic was at 5.30pm. I had already planned on getting the 4.50pm bus from outside my house, but needed to shower and wash my hair before I left the house. So I ran (okay, walked very fast) to Asda in the rain because I had just missed the bus, spent probably 4 minutes in the store before running out and getting the bus that was only idling at the stop because the driver was having a sneaky cigarette, for which I could only say thanks, despite my dislike of smokers. The things I do for SIFE. There should be a medal or something.

So once I had my Jus-Rol pastry, things went pretty smoothly. Here's the basic instructions for making sausage rolls with store-bought pastry, which you've probably been waiting for since you clicked on the post. I hesitate to call it 'recipe' because I feel it's more like assembling all the stuff together rather than actually cooking. Head over to the Delia Smith link if you want the added instructions for making your own dough.

Ingredients (I made 31 1inch sausage rolls)
- 450g sausage meat (this is just how much was in the pack)
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 500g Jus-Rol puff pastry (or your own if you did it)
- 1 beaten egg
- Some plain flour

1. Chop your onion finely and just mix it in with the sausage meat
2. Roll out your pastry as thin as you can into as near as a rectangle as possible. Cut into long strips, about 9-10cm wide. I can never get it into a rectangle, so I just cut the strips at the longest points, gather up the rest of the dough and roll it out again
3. Grab handfuls of the sausage meat and line it in a continuous heap down the middle of each strip of pastry. You don't want too much, because otherwise they're not going to close properly, but don't be too stingy either.
4. Brush your egg wash along one side of the pastry
5. Fold the side of the pastry without the egg wash on top of the meat and then roll it so that it sits on top of the side with the egg wash
6. You should now have the sealed part of the roll (where the two sides are stuck together) on the bottom. Brush more egg wash on the top
7. Cut into however big you want them to be
8. Using scissors, snip duagonal lines into the pastry. You need to actually cut all the way through so you can see the meat. Your sausage rolls are less likely to burst open in the oven if you do this
9. Place onto a baking sheet with the glazed side up
10. Cook for 20-25 minutes at 220 degrees

We do have a recipe at home where you fry the onion along with celery first, before you mix up with the meat, so you can do whatever you fancy. Delia added fresh sage, but Asda annoyingly didn't have any. Adding poppy or sesame seeds on top before you put them in the oven also makes them look good.

They're great when straight out of the oven, but also cold. Just don't wait too long, otherwise they'll lose their crispy-ness if people haven't sneaked them to eat already.

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