Saturday, April 6, 2013

Pork and Fennel Sausage Rolls

I love a homemade sausage roll. The flaky pastry, the moist, seasoned filling - pure comfort food that makes me think of childhood birthday parties and Mum making trays of them on the holidays. Look, I don't even mind a dodgy servo sausage roll either if truth be told! Whole different ball game of course, but who can resist meat in pastry? Sausage rolls are not a new invention and folks have loved their sausage rolls for hundreds of years.

The original ye olde sausage roll first appeared as a picnic food in the 1800's, was served hot and cold and at first did not contain any pastry. The filling was frequently comprised of cold roast veal and ham, or cold fowl and tongue minced and seasoned with dried herbs. The mixture was shaped and then breadcrumbed and fried - a little like that other well known picnic staple, the Scotch egg. Eventually, people started encasing the mixture in shortcrust pastry and eventually the puff pastry versions that we know today.

My recipe is based on one of my favourite combinations - pork and fennel, and inspired by the delicious sausage rolls they make at the fabulous Bourke Street Bakery in Sydney. Yes, it is a bit of a tarted up sausage roll, but the flavours are just delicious and they aren't difficult to make. I strongly suggest you make an extra batch , as they freeze brilliantly and are a great thing to have up your sleeve for a quick lunch or if guests drop by. Who doesn't love a homemade sausage roll?

My other suggestion is not to use pork mince that is super, super lean or has not even a touch of visible fat in it. Like any sausage, it needs a little fat for moisture and flavour. Using "diet" pork mince will result in a dry sausage roll - you have been warned. So what are you waiting for? Head to the kitchen and whip up a few trays of these beauties!

Pork and Fennel Sausage Rolls

You will need: 1kg free range pork mince. 1 bulb fennel diced finely, 1 large white onion diced finely, 1 tablespoon breadcrumbs, 2 cloves finely chopped garlic, 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley, 2 teaspoons sweet paprika, 2 teaspoons yellow mustard seed, generous pinch of allspice, 1 teaspoon fennel seed chopped, pinch of cayenne pepper, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 lightly beaten free range egg, salt, ground, black pepper, 1 tablespoon poppy seeds. 3-4 sheets pre- rolled puff pastry.

Method: Preheat the oven to 220C.

In a pan, heat the olive oil and cook the fennel, fennel seed, garlic and onion down until soft. Season with a little salt and pepper as it cooks.

Combine the pork mince, breadcrumbs, parsley, paprika, mustard seed, allspice, cayenne pepper, and plenty of salt and pepper in a large bowl with the cooked onion and fennel mixture. Combine extremely well - clean hands are best for this.

Cut each of the sheets of pastry into two rectangular pieces. Brush one edge with some of the beaten egg. Lay the meat mixture in the middle of the pastry, ensuring it is densely packed (you don't want big air holes in the sausage roll as it cooks)

Roll up the sausage roll and press the pastry together well where the pastry joins - ideally, it should overlap a little to avoid splitting as it cooks. I use a fork for this. Place seam side down onto a lined baking tray or silicone baking sheet. Gently cut each roll into two, to make large sausage rolls, or into four to make party size roll.

Repeat with the rest of the pastry and pork mixture. Prick each sausage roll with a fork, brush with the beaten egg and sprinkle lightly with the poppy seeds.

Bake until the pastry is puffed and golden brown - about 25 minutes.

NB: These sausage rolls freeze really well. Just ensure they are cold when you put them in the freezer and wrap well.


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