Is there any justification for serving them cold?

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Sausage rolls get everywhere. Not just the pastry, which, following a moment of petrol station weakness on the A50, can work itself into your clothes’ every crevice, but culturally. From low-budget tributes to Oldham Athletic FC to online mockery of Cheryl Cole, be it Nigel Slater or hungry City traders, everyone it seems loves the subject of this month’s How to Eat. Even if, as the US grocery chain Trader Joe’s “genius” new invention “puff dogs” illustrates, not everyone is getting it right. Indeed, our best gastropubs are often little better, insisting on using venison and vodka in them or serving sausage rolls with (no, really) turnip dips. Luckily, How to Eat, the blog defining how best to eat Britain’s favourite foods, is here to stop such nonsense.

Hot & Cold

Like The One Show or Ed Sheeran, the cold sausage roll takes something potentially extraordinary (TV, music, sausage meat) and makes it dull and pallid. Immediately after consuming it, you feel stupid and duped, if not genuinely dyspeptic. The reason: fat.

Whether your roll is wrapped in puff or flaky pastry, that pastry will be heavy with butter that – like the pork fat in the filling – needs warming, melting and liberating to produce a moist roll of lubricious deliciousness. Warming it will also intensify the flavours in that seasoned sausage meat, which, for the record, should be far, far thicker than the pastry casing.

A cold sausage roll is dry, lumpen, largely flavourless; a taste of rain-lashed church fetes and grim funeral buffets. A warm sausage roll is its own self-contained world of outrageous sensory pleasure.

When and where

Sausage rolls are intimately linked with picnics, but erroneously so. Making the consumption of food as uncomfortable and impractical as possible, picnics are incredibly unpleasant, and, unless you go to ridiculous lengths or travel no further than your back garden, it is impossible to serve a warm sausage roll at one.

Things should be different at buffets; the sausage roll is a staple of the community hall trestle table. Sadly, however, too few caterers take sufficient pride in their work to replenish the rapidly cooling trays often enough. Even bothering to heat the rolls is rare.

It is easier to deliver a warm sausage roll to a guest in your home, but stock-up on Tasers and riot batons. Without these, it is impossible to transfer an oven-fresh tray of warm sausage rolls across a packed kitchen without at least 63% of them being snaffled before they hit the table. Ravenous dogs have better manners than party guests presented with hot sausage rolls.

Indeed, if you crave peace, simplicity and quality (note: this is one item where the industrially manufactured version is no match for the scratch-cooked equivalent), then the pub remains the perfect place to eat a fat fist of pastry-clad pork. Despite maverick attempts to fill sausage rolls with the components of a full English, this is not a breakfast item, nor is the foundations upon which you can build an evening meal (see below). But, at lunch, on its own, accompanied by a pint, the sausage roll is, arguably, the king of hot savoury snacks.

Inessential additions

A good sausage roll does not need augmentation. A combination of all-butter puff, coarsely ground rare-breed meat (retrieved from real sausages), herbs and maybe a tiny amount of softened onion, can produce astonishing rolls that stand on their own merits.

Despite this, there is endless unnecessary tinkering. From stilton worked into the pastry to mustard secreted under it, numerous potentially divisive additions are made to sausage rolls (sauces should be served on the side) that serve no purpose other than to flatter the ego of the chef who baked them or justify a recipe writer’s fee.

Elsewhere in WTF-corner, you will find “sausage rolls” made with chicken or game (the former boring, the latter dry and dense); spiked with bacon or black pudding (an unwelcome intrusion here); threaded with eggs like a gala pie; “tweaked” with wild mushrooms, sundried tomatoes and apple; or turned, using a whole sausage, into some sort of curious puff pastry “twists”. These are not sausage rolls.

Nor does the sausage roll need jazzing-up with a blast of smoked chilli or harissa or reworking with chorizo or merguez sausage. You do not need to bring the heat. The sausage roll is a comfort food whose uncomplicated nature, the way it offers an all-enveloping bearhug of crowd-pleasing savoury flavours, is the essence of its appeal. Sausage rolls are not meant to challenge you. They should convey an almost narcotic sense of warmth and well-being.

Served with

Fundamentally, you do not need any sides. However, if you insist, a dab of sauce or a loose blob of something on the chutney spectrum that you can dip your sausage roll into (crucially, leaving one hand free for your pint/paper/phone) is a sufficient counterpoint. Sauces should be applied sparingly, so that, rather than becoming dominant, they offer a little tingle of excitement at the edge of each mouthful. Think: dijon or grain mustard; HP or tomato sauce; piccalilli; apple sauce (most commercial versions are appalling); some of sort of dark, beery chutney; barbecue sauce, if you must.

None of the other things you commonly find sausage rolls served with make any sense. Favoured mayos (spicy, garlic etc) and coleslaws make this already fat-packed item cloying. Conversely, sides that are intended as some sort of perky palate cleanser – on an arc from red cabbage to watercress-based green salads – are a perversely worthy addition. The sausage roll is an indulgence. Embrace that. Alternating it with comparatively disappointing forkfuls of cold vegetable matter diminishes the pleasure, without adding anything significant.

The biggest mistake, however, is to treat the sausage roll as if it was a pie, using it as the centrepiece of a meal and pairing it with sides such as mash, chips, new potatoes, beans, carrots and peas. The key error, here, is that moist pies are self-saucing. They contain gravy that once released facilitates the fluid interaction of that meal’s components. A sausage roll does not. It is an entirely different, drier beast. Place in it a pie-meal context and that plate will get heavy-going very quickly.

The maple bacon croissant has landed in the UK

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This year’s best bacon sandwich so far is at once familiar and surprising. It’s not the standard rashers-trapped-in-bread experience, but rather a pastry, with ribbons of maple-soaked bacon snaking around croissant dough in what looks like a pain au raisin, or a particularly attractive snail shell.

The maple bacon croissant is the work of Pophams Bakery, a new café in London. They have frequently sold out by 10am — you have to hotfoot it there fast to get your fix.

The flavours are a winning combination. Pastry is high quality, flaky but not too hard, buttery but not overwhelming or stodgy. Smoked streaky bacon is from the butcher next door; it enlivens the experience and makes each bite more satisfying, with variations in texture between soft pastry and toothsome meat, while the maple syrup perks it up without being cloyingly sweet — a common casualty of the American staple of maple syrup and bacon pancakes. This is a dish that makes a nod to that classic but is lighter and more sophisticated, more President Macron than President Trump.

Head chef Florin starts laminating the pastries (that’s basically folding butter into dough of flour, water, salt, yeast and milk and layering it up) as early as 2am so they can be ready fresh from the oven as soon as the bakery opens at 7.30am. Croissants can end up with as many as 729 layers of dough. The more layers the better and you can see them here, crisped on the edges, with air between them.

Founder Ollie Gold hit upon the idea when thinking about the bacon and maple pancakes he ate when visiting family in America, and the occasional triple-decker bacon and maple sandwich. He and Florin experimented with shape and size, settling on the twirl because “the shape lends itself to perfect flakiness, a great glazing platform and of course the best way to get the delicious bacon in there — there’s no better hangover cure, according to our maple-and-bacon regulars”. 

Pophams has an extensive menu of croissants and sourdough bread, with daily specials, all served on tasteful plates made at Stepney City Farm. 

The name of the bakery comes from the street its is just off. It’s actually on Prebend Street but Pophams sounds jauntier. Gold jokes that he wanted to be near his beloved Arsenal football club and his creations certainly provide the cheer much needed by fans of Wenger’s team at the moment.

These are pastries to linger over and eat with a fork (although they are available to take away too). Raspberry jam, peanut butter and banana is another popular creation. Gold grew up on the combination and mentioned it to Florin, who put it in a croissant. 

If you want something both more low-key and less meat-based get a rosemary and sea salt plait. It was Ollie’s girlfriend Lucy’s idea and it’s a thing of wonder, with crisp flakes of croissant meeting in a plait for the ultimate texture and satisfying salt crystals. Toasted rosemary takes the edge off the saltiness with its invigorating, savoury, herbal taste. At weekends there are walnut, fig and blue cheese croissants and Scandi-inspired creations strewn with poppy seeds. Pophams is woke to waste. Surplus plain croissants are used the next day for almond croissants.

Coffee is from Ozone, which is originally from New Zealand but has a London factory, and a strong range of teas and hot chocolate. All work well as dipping vessels for the croissants, which, of course, are the star attraction.

Bradford school bans sausage rolls from packed lunches

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A school ban on sausage rolls and other “unhealthy” foods in pupils’ lunchboxes has divided opinion. The new policy at Shirley Manor Primary Academy in Bradford states parents will be called if banned foods are found in packed lunches.

Steve Fryer, whose son’s sausage roll was confiscated, said the school should “stick to teaching kids”. Others have praised the school for healthy eating, according to comments on the Bradford Telegraph and Argus.

The policy says pupils are encouraged to show their packed lunches to staff before and after they have eaten. It states pork pies, sausage rolls and pepperoni sticks should not be included and neither should fruit squash or flavoured water.

It says this is because they are high in salt and saturated fat and the school is keen to promote a balanced diet. Mr Fryer said his son’s sausage roll was removed last Monday and given back to him at the end of the day.

“He was given a ham sandwich instead but he hates ham so there’s no way he was going to eat it. “He ended up eating a dry crisp sandwich. How is that any healthier?”

‘Furious’

He added: “It’s my job as a parent to decide what my child eats, not the school’s. “The school won’t even compromise and allow us to send sausage rolls once or twice a week. I’m furious.”

Head teacher Heather Lacey said the vast majority of parents supported the ban and there had been a big increase in the number of children bringing in healthy lunches. Although schools are legally required to provide meals that comply with the government’s School Food Standards, they are able to set their own policies on packed lunches.

A little bit of history about those little pies

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History tells us that the first recorded recipe for a pork pie was in 1390 in the kitchen of King Richard II, the monarch whose actions led ultimately to War of Roses and still to this day we enjoy pork pies and appreciate their taste.

Like traditional dishes, the British raised pork pie has its origins as a means of preserving meat. Unlike salting, curing and air drying, making pork pies was not intended to keep meat edible for some months. Read more

Working at Waterall – We Want You!

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People trust a butcher. What they advise, they heed. What they recommend, they consume. The apron is part of it, yes – the apron gives them power. But it’s much more than the apron…

Our family business has traded as a Pork Butchers in Sheffield for over 50 years. We pride ourselves on providing high quality traditional Pork Pies, Cooked Meats, and Sausages made with produce sourced where ever possible from local Sheffield farmers & suppliers. Read more

Why Does Bacon Smell So Good?

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When it comes to breakfasts, there are few aromas better than that of bacon, sizzling and crisping in a pan. As part of a brief new series looking at the chemicals behind aromas, this graphic considers the chemicals that lend bacon it’s characteristically mouth-watering scent.

Considering that bacon is such a universally worshipped food item, you’d’ve thought research on anything relating to bacon would be a hot commodity. The world of scientific research doesn’t seem to be quite as enamoured with bacon as the general public, however, and research on the compounds behind the aroma of frying bacon is surprisingly sparse. Clearly science has a few priorities to get in order. Read more

How Long to Cook Your Ham

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Knowing how long to cook ham can be very confusing. There are many factors that determine cooking times for ham, including everything from how it was prepared to where it was packaged. Hopefully, the below will help… Read more

So, what is Bacon?

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Bacon is the word used for the raw pig meat that has been wet or dry-cured. The word bacon means ‘back’ but in fact refers to cuts from the side of the carcass that is butchered in a similar way to the butchering of pork. ‘Gammon’ is the word used for the raw, cured hind leg of a pig removed from a side of bacon. Read more

Cost Savings for Pig Processors

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Cost savings for pork processors exporting to the USA are on the cards following an agreement with USDA regarding trichinella testing.

Finished pigs from controlled housing destined to be exported to the US frozen, no longer need to be tested for trichinella. Finished pigs from ‘uncontrolled’ housing, together with boars and sows still need to be tested. Read more

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