Lady Justicee

 

In the flurry of reports of the findings of a meta-study in the British Journal of Cancer a few of the journalists got it right. However, what sticks out is one from a better British paper who did not do their homework. No-one is going to get names here, but they did an equal job of botching reviews of TV food programmes last week. Somehow they had come up with the “fact” that 1 sausage is equal to 2 rashers of bacon and has a higher risk than red meat. This hack had grouped sausages together as processed meat rather than as red meat.

One aspect of the study was that there was a theoretical risk from nitrites which are used in cures for preserving meats such as bacon or salami. Again, this was a theoretical risk taken from studies of lab animals and there has never been a real life correlation. As we make both sausages and charcuterie, we know our ingredients very well. There are no nitrites in fresh sausages which goes for the vast majority of sausages sold in the UK.

So where did the equivalence  of sausages to bacon come in and when did they get grouped into “processed meats”. Most sausages contain only about 5 ingredients; meat, rusk/crumb, water, flavour and the skin. In all quality sausages these ingredients will be natural. The flavours will be real such as pieces of apple or sage. This is not processed meat just in the same way that a good burger is not processed.

Most of us know the risks of red meat consumption, but it’s useful if journalists write with accuracy on the science. The research paper is available free and the findings do not group sausages into processed meat except for one study. In this paper the researchers put ham and sausages together as a single meat group, but only covered 222 patients.  The overall findings of the metastudy is that an increase in consumption by 50g per day increase the risk factor for processed meats and 120g per day for red meat.

So why Lady Justice above? The sword for justice, the blindfold for objectivity and the scales of evidence. In this case someone failed to do justice of the evidence and produced twaddle which was not objective. This means that a proportion of the UK population will now see sausages as a higher risk because of poor journalism in their preferred daily paper.

 

 

 

Homemade bread

 

I am a big fan of homemade bread. What is there not to like, the smell, the taste, the crunch, everything. Homemade bread does not have to take much time, just the right technique and some patience. The Bertinet method was what got me hooked. Recipes are very simple and only use a few ingredients, no sugar or fat. Just flour, yeast water and salt. If you get to buy only one bread book, Dough by Richard Bertinet is it.

Speaking of bread, let’s talk about the other kind … cash. Every so often a bunch of arrogant, gobby, backstabbing city folk get together and try their hand at making some. Watching the first episode of one series of The Apprentice clearly showed how you can really mess up something simple. Two teams of clueless hustlers set off to make and market their own range of sausages. The girls team could have won by default as the lads made a complete hash of the process. Like bread making, sausages only need to have a few simple ingredients, skill and … patience !

 

In June 2011, the Newmarket sausage started on it’s journey to recognition of Protected Geographical Indication (PGI). This means that the sausage that bears the name can only come from an area specified in the application. Now as we all know, the European law makers are an exacting bunch.

Newmarket sausage comes in two varieties Powter’s or Musk’s. Both use the name, but so far Musk’s have received recognition in the form of several Royal Warrants. Each of the recipes have a secret spice blend and seem to vary most in their use of binder, Powter’s rusk and Musk’s bread.

To get the EU protected status, they have to come up with one, you would have thought. After some digging around we found the specification hosted on the DEFRA website (opens in a new window). It has been written in a way that apart from the dried lemon, the sausage could be one of many traditional Victorian style recipes. Both rusk and bread are mentioned as binders, so this leads to either sausagemaker being allowed to use the PGI designation. There is slight contradiction in the specfication which we hope would get interpreted as how they used to be made back rather than the current methods.

Good luck to the Newmarket sausage.

 

We have all witnessed the charred outside of a barbecued sausage and then bitten in to find it’s raw or even frozen. This is all done to rapid and uneven transfer of heat or flames. If you want a sausage that tastes good and is an even temperature all the way through then try these 3 simple steps:

1 Is the barbecue ready to cook on? The flames need to have died down and the charcoal glows white. At that point you can start to cook. It doesn’t matter that the heat may start to go down. This is better than the coals still heating up.

2 Make sure the sausages are ready to cook. Nothing is worse than frozen or raw sausage. The many scare stories of food poisonning at barbecues come down to meat not cooked properly and maybe kept around too long before eating. One quick way to get a sausage up to heat is to simmer them for about 10 minutes in water or stock. Not only does this get them nice and juicy but it gets them to a consistent temperature.

3 Probe. An instant read thermometer should tell you when your food is ready to take off the heat. These are inexpensive, very easy to use and simple to clean. Safe cooking temperatures depend on what you are cooking, so a crib sheet will be coming out next week.

 

This sausage has a very earthy outdoor taste to it. You can get the flavours of the woodland and the ground when you bite into them. The little pops of the mustard seeds add a textural slant that is a crunch of spiceyness. A drink that works perfectly with this shares similiar properties, except for the wholegrain mustard, is Guinness. Served cold with that peaty deep smokey taste blends perfectly with one of these sausages, especially if served from the barbecue.

 

It’s official, we are going to make it. The current record for the World’s most expensive sausage stands at 20 pound sterling. It’s quite a difficult task to put luxury ingredients into a sausage without overpowering the flavours or losing textures. We have found three ingredients we can use and a method for getting the best out of all of them, but that’s going to be our secret until launch day. The first batch of sausages will be produced by the third week of June 2011.

The real challenge is whether we keep the ingredients to all British or use the finest foods the world has to offer. We want to go for the all British option, but may have a couple of sourcing issues with just one of the ingredients, we shall have to wait and see.

A final challenge is to come up with a good name for the World’s most expensive sausage. Any ideas?

 

Officially this was an ordinary hot sausage sold by the United Nations Development Office in Sweden. The asking price? $130. The most expensive luxury sausage was £20, more of a fair game we we think. This was made in the UK and contained champagne and truffle amongst the ingredients. If you get the regular six sausages to a pound, that’s £120 per pack.

The key would be to make a sausage from luxury ingredients and to make them all sing together as a creation of worth. Expensive sandwiches have been made using sour dough bread, truffles, foie gras and kobe beef. Would flavours get lost or overwhelm even?

Another challenge is to get this done with local ingredients or even from what we would have commonly had to hand in times gone by. Imagine the Victorian Era, before two World Wars ravaged British food. At that time we had a great period of decadence and some very fine ingredients. With modern access to such fantastic ingredients, the options are fairly unlimited.

The Worlds most luxurious sausage or sausage range … watch this space :)

 

Ingredients:

6 Staffordshire Fine Food sausages of your choice
Using a measuring jug or half pint glass, measure the following into a bowl: -
½ pt Plain flour
6 Medium eggs
½ pt Semi skimmed milk & water (50/50 of each)
Pinch of salt & pepper

Method.

Pre heat oven to 200ºC.
Whisk all the batter ingredients together, leave to stand for 5 minutes. Heat a deep sided non stick tray with 3 table spoons of oil in the oven for 5 minutes until hot. Pour batter into the hot tray then lay the sausages into the batter. Carefully return the tray to the oven and cook for 25-30 minutes until Yorkshire pudding is cooked.

Serve with rich onion gravy or wholegrain mustard cream.

© 2011 Staffordshire Fine Foods A Peel House Investments Brand Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha