A good sausage roll is like a hug from an old friend. There's something about its warmth, flaking pastry and well seasoned squidgy middle. I thought that interfering with something so simple would be a travesty but it was in fact a revelation. I like to think of them as spruced up sausage rolls or sausage rolls with attitude.
First of all make the caramelised onions. I used a whole onion, fried gently in butter for 20 minutes until soft and starting to brown then added sugar, salt and pepper. They were wonderfully sticky. While the onions are cooking; crush some fennel seeds, chop a few sprigs of fresh rosemary, parsley and chives and finely chop a few olives.
My relationship with pastry has been full of disaster and delight; it is forever evolving. Despite my recent acquisition of a K-Mix I wasn't about to attempt puff pastry. I don't think I'm ready for that yet so readymade puff pastry sufficed. Roll the puff pastry out so it's nice and long and then cut into four rectangles.
For eight sausage rolls I used around 400g sausage meat; you can either use bought sausage meat or squeeze out the sausage meat from some sausages. Divide the sausage meat between the four pieces of pastry and arrange along the length of the pastry about two thirds of the way down the rectangle. Put one of each of the fillings on top of the sausage meat. Be careful of how many herbs you add, you don't want people to think you've put a lump of turf on their dinner.
Brush a little beaten egg on the smaller edge of the pastry and then fold the other piece of pastry over the top. Seal the edges with a fork or fingers. Cut each of the four extra large sausage rolls in half so you end up with eight sausage rolls. Put a few slits in the top of each one before brushing each sausage roll with more egg. Cook in a preheated oven at 200C for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.
When I was younger I made sausage rolls with my Granny and could barely see over the worktop to see what she was doing; it all happened so fast. Whatever she was doing I must have picked up because these were wonderful. They would have been great without the fillings but the new flavours and textures that the different fillings brought added a bit of oomph.
The pastry was just right (but then I can't really claim that was anything to do with me) and the sausage meat had just the right saltiness and juiciness. The caramelised onions were the winner adding a soft, silky texture and glorious sweetness. The fennel gives it a summery note with its lovely aniseed. The herbs were lovely, fresh and clean; I think I would definitely add sage next time. I was dubious about the olives and remained so until I tried one, what a surprise. They added a tapenade texture but not too much salt as I thought they might.
Each sausage roll had its own characteristics and was a marvellous success. Which would be your favourite?