As a child growing up in Melbourne, I used to look forward to casual family parties because we would get to eat Mum’s sausage rolls. Sausage rolls weren’t very glamorous or fashionable and bought ones too frequently consisted of a pale insipid filling wrapped in cold soggy pastry that appealled to no-one. But a homemade sausage roll is a completely different matter and I love them. Mum’s version was based on the simple recipe found on the outside of the puff pastry packet. However, like all cooks in my family, she tweaked the recipe; adding fresh herbs, onion and spices to the sausage meat.
Almost as soon as I could cook, these sausage rolls were something I took on, taking over the mantle of making them for family gatherings and parties. Like Mum, I changed a bit of this and added a bit of that and over the years my sausage rolls have evolved into something rather different. I often make my own rough puff, but have been known to buy packet puff pastry if I’m in a rush. Relished, and still frequently requested by family and friends, they are my version of the ultimate Australian party food and I’ll be making sausage rolls for Australia Day again this year.
500 grams minced pork (I sometimes mince my own and use 4/5 pork shoulder 1/5 pork belly)
1 large carrot peeled and grated
1 large zucchini grated
½ cup chopped celery leaves
½ tablespoon celery salt
½ tablespoon fennel seeds crushed with a mortar and pestle
2 sprigs of thyme leaves finely chopped
3 spring onions finely sliced
2 tblsp finely chopped parsley
2 tblsp finely chopped fennel fronds
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
450 gm (3 cups)plain flour
450 gm cold butter, coarsely chopped
NB – If you’re not up for making pastry, and not everyone is, buy a good quality butter puff like Careme.
Preheat your oven to 220°C and line two baking trays with baking paper.
In a large mixing bowl combine all the ingredients for the filling. The only way to get this done properly is with your hands. Nothing else really works. So, use gloves if you must, but I don’t bother. You can stretch the filling by adding more breadcrumbs, but I find that this makes them too heavy for my liking. Once the filling is well combined, mix in 1 lightly beaten egg.
Roll out your puff pastry to about 2mm thick and 30cm wide. Cut it into two pieces each 15cm wide.
Using a large spoon and guiding it with your fingers place a line of filling about 1/3 in from the edge, then roll the pastry over the joining the two edges. The join should be about 1 cm in width. Using the prongs of a fork press along the join to crimp the pastry and ensure a firm closure. Cut each long sausage roll into 6 pieces and prick the top of each piece with the fork twice (this is mostly for effect but also adds a bit of air to the pastry. Repeat with the remaining pastry sheets and filling.
When you have the sausage rolls all ready line, them up on an oven tray lined with baking paper and brush each with the second egg (lightly beaten to make an eggwash). I like to sprinkle them with fennel seeds or a mix of sesame seeds and poppy seeds.
Pop them in the oven for 15 minutes or until the pastry has risen and is golden. The first time you make them you need to watch your oven to see how long they take to cook. Every oven I have used over the years has produced a slightly different cooking time and result.
Allow to cool for a short time on a wire rack then serve with a homemade tomato relish or some good old ‘dead horse’.
To make the rough puff
Sieve flour and 1 teaspoon fine salt onto a work surface.
Scatter the pieces of butter over the flour and cut butter into flour with a pastry scraper until roughly mixed. You still want small lumps of butter in the mixture. Make a well in the centre, add 180ml iced water and use pastry scraper to just combine.
Bring the dough together with the heel of your hand, divide in half, form each half into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and rest in refrigerator until firm (20-30 minutes).
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to form a 1.5cm-thick rectangle, about 15cm x 40cm.
Fold short ends in to meet in the centre.
Fold dough in half to form a book-fold. Wrap in plastic wrap, refrigerate until just firm (20-30 minutes). Repeat with remaining dough. Repeat rolling and folding with each piece twice more. Wrap in plastic wrap and rest in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before use. Dough will keep refrigerated for 3 days or frozen for 3 months.
Note This recipe makes about 1kg which is about double what you need for these sausage rolls.
Lamb is the other thing I love on Australia Day and each year I look forward to the crazy campaign video from Meat and Livestock Australia – the parody/spoof of Barbie Girl was hilarious. This year it has been a bit controversial – but I quite like it.