#415 Cumberland Sausage

Unlike other sausages, Cumberland sausages are not made into links, but are allowed to form large coils. You can buy whole coils to fry or bake for a family dinner, or buy lengths of it.  In Richard Woodall’s butcher shop in Waberthwaite, he would measure out yards of sausage using two drawing pins stuck on his counter. Amazingly the shop is still going strong over eight generations!

For me, the Cumberland is the quintessential English sausage; highly seasoned with salt, black pepper, herbs and spices. It shouldn’t have much else added to it, other than a little rusk or bread to soak up the fat. They have been made like this for centuries. Indeed, all sausages were made as one long coiled piece, until the addition of links was introduced in the early seventeenth century. The meat should be coarsely chopped or minced, not like your typical bizarre and homogenous cheap supermarket sausages that are ‘a bland, pink disgrace’, as Jane puts it.

A Cumberland ring is fried or baked, often secured in shape with two skewers before cooking.  It is commonly served as part of a breakfast. Jane mentions that at Rothay Manor, it is served with bacon, tomato, fried egg on fried bread, apple, black pudding and mushrooms; surely the breakfast of champions! It can be served with mashed potatoes and peas, or with a stew of green lentils and bacon cooked in red wine.

To make sausages, you need some natural sausage casings, which you can buy very cheaply from any butcher who makes his own sausages. Often he’ll give you them for free. They are very easy to prepare. All you need to do is soak the in cold water for an hour to remove any salt, find an end (this is quite tricky, as they are very long and not too dissimilar to tapeworms!) and carefully fit a funnel into it to rinse out the insides of the skins with more cold water. Once the water as run all the way through, the skins are ready to use, so pop them in the fridge until needed. Any unused skins can be kept in the fridge for four weeks. For these sausages you’ll need hog casings.

First of all, prepare your meat ready for the mincer by cutting the following into strips: one pound of boned shoulder of pork, 6 ounces of pork back fat and half (yes, half!) a rasher of smoked bacon.

Pass all of these through the mincer using the coarse blade, then again using the medium blade. (I have no medium blade, so just used the coarse one again.)

Using your hands, mix all of these together in a bowl along with an ounce of white breadcrumbsand a quarter teaspoon each of ground nutmegand mace. Season with salt and pepper. I used a teaspoon of salt in all and was pretty heavy on the pepper too. Curiously, Jane does not add any herbs to the mixture, but if you wanted to, dried sage or marjoram are typical.

Now it is time for the fun and games: filling the sausage skins. To do this, I used the sausage stuffer attachment for my Kitchen Aid. The amount of sausagemeat made here easily filled a single hog casing (each one is at least 3 yards/metres long, I reckon).

Prepare the sausage skins as described above. Take one and slide it over the funnel of the stuffer, tying a knot in the end. Now feed the sausagemeat through the machine and into the casings. Here, you need to grasp the sausage as it comes out so that it fills the skin properly making no major air bubbles. This is tricky to do if you are simultaneously feeding the machine with sausagemeat, so an extra pair of hands will come in useful.

As you make more and more sausage, let it land upon a plate to form the characteristic coil. When all the meat has been stuffed into the skin, cut and knot it, leaving some slack for expansion when cooking. Chill the sausage overnight (which I forgot to do, in my eagerness, making it rise up in the centre when in the oven).

Now you can fry the sausage in a pan, turning it over at half time. Alternatively, bake in the oven for 30 to 45 minutes at 180⁰C, pricking the skin before it goes in. Of course, you don’t have to cook the whole thing at once; you can cut lengths off it and fry those up instead.

#415 Cumberland Sausage. This was absolutely delicious, and quite simply the best sausage I have ever eaten! With something simple like this, it is all in the seasoning and the half-rasher of bacon worked wonders in that department. Who’d have thunk it, a real bona fide secret ingredient!? This, along with the freshly-ground pepper and the warming mace and nutmeg, made such a winning combination, that I have been making vast amounts of sausages, sometimes for frying up, or sometimes for sausage rolls. I cannot gush any more than this: 10/10

#405 Capon, Goose or Turkey Neck Pudding / Poddyng of Capoun Necke (1430)

Here’s a recipe that I’ve been dying to do since I first picked up Jane Grigson’s tome and, at Christmastime, I finally got the chance to cook it (yes, I am THAT behind on writing my posts!).

The main problem, you see, is getting hold of the neck of a turkey, goose or capon. It’s not the neck muscle that’s needed; that would be easy! All I’d have to do is rummage inside the giblets bag and pull the neck out. This recipe requires the neck skin – all of it, from the base of the neck, right up to the beak. In other words, I needed a fowl with its head still on.

The trouble is, it is very tricky to get one. I have three very good butchers close to me and none of them could get me a turkey with its head on! These birds are plucked and gutted mechanically these days, and the butcher doesn’t have to do a thing when he receives them.

To get a bird with its head on, you have to know a farmer or keep them yourself. Luckily for me Dalesbread Finest Meats, who attend Chorlton Market with me (3rd Saturday of the month!), farm and sell their own meat, including turkey and geese. No problem, they say.

This recipe comes from an early Fifteenth Century manuscript, jazzily called Harleian MS.279. Here’s the original recipe:

Poddyng of Capoun necke.—Take Percely, gysour, & þe leuer of þe herte, & perboyle in fayre water; þan choppe hem smal, & put raw ȝolkys of Eyroun .ij. or .iij. þer-to, & choppe for-with. Take Maces & Clowes, & put þer-to, & Safroun, & a lytil pouder Pepir, & Salt; & fille hym vppe & sew hym, & lay him a-long on þe capon Bakke, & prycke hym þer-on, and roste hym, & serue forth.

Essentially, it’s the skin of the neck wrapped around some spiced offal to produce some kind of hybrid between a sausage and a meatloaf.

This is Jane’s somewhat modified version of that recipe.

First job on the list is to get the neck skin removed from the bird. To do this, get yourself a pair of good, sharp scissors. Three incisions is all you need to make, and the first is around the base of the neck, as low as you can without exposing the breast. Next, cut around the neck end, close to the beak. Lastly, cut straight up the length of the neck, so that you can remove the skin in one piece.

This sounds easy. It is not.

Okay, now for the filling. Get yourself a good-sized mixing bowl and break up 8 ounces of sausagemeat and mix into it a good tablespoon of finely chopped parsley and a couple of egg yolks. Season with salt, pepper, mace and cloves. If you like add a pinch of saffron that has first been soaked in a tablespoon of hot water.

Lay the neck skin flat on a work surface and spread half of the mixture over it. Cut the liver of your bird into three pieces and arrange these in a line going down the centre then spread the remainder of the filling over the top of that. Pull the edges of the neck skin around, wrapping the filling up, turning it over and tucking it in. Pop it into a loaf tin.

This sounds easy. It is not.

I could not get the skin to wrap around the sausagemeat, nowhere near in fact. I tried my best, but it ended up essentially a meat loaf with some skin draped over it.

Bake at 180⁰C for 45 minutes. Cool and leave in the fridge so that the flavours can permeate. Slice and eat like a pâté.

#405 Capon, Goose or Turkey Neck Pudding / Poddyng of Capoun Necke (1430). This was both a disaster and a success at the same time. There was far too much filling for the neck, so as the ‘pudding’ baked the skin shrank, leaving a wrinkled line of neck flap. However, the filling was absolutely delicious! The liver was good and creamy and those mediaeval spices complemented the meaty, rich filling. All pâtés should have cloves and mace added to them, I reckon. Even though the neck ended up being completely superfluous, it’s still a high scorer. 7/10

This terrible photo doesn’t show it at it’s best!

#360 Apple Sauce I

This is the third of four different apple sauces in English Food. I have had to wait to cook this one as it requires a quince.

Quince are an ancient fruit, related to apples and pears, that is not seen around too much these days as they have fallen out of favour somewhat and also have a very short season. They have also suffered because of the terrible wet weather we’ve had this year.

Apple sauce should not be reserved just for roast pork, by the way, use it with sausages, black pudding, chicken, turkey, goose or game. It is a surprisingly versatile condiment.

Chop up 8 ounces of Bramley’s seedling apples (those in North America, use Mackintosh apples) and slice one ‘small or moderate quince’. You don’t need to peel or core the fruit, but I would scrub off the naturally-occurring fluff from the skin of the quince, should it have some. Place in a pan along with ¼ pint of water, a heaped tablespoon of sugar (omit if using Mackintosh apples) and a pared strip of lemon peel. Cover and simmer until a puply, then pass through a sieve or mouli-legumes to remove peel &c.

Put back on the heat and stir until it thickens up; you don’t want it ‘sloppy and wet’ as Griggers says. Stir in one ounce of butter and give the finished sauce a healthy seasoning of black pepper.

#360 Apple Sauce I. I liked this one very much and ate it with some rabbit which it complemented very well. The quince mellowed the Bramley’s, making them much less tart. Tres bon. 7.5/10.
 

#279 Apple Sauce II

I still had sausages left over from Harrison Hog Farm – I ate half of them with Crempog Las and wanted to the give the rest the Grigson treatment. I could have gone with toad-in-the-hole or something, but I’d done that already. Luckily I spotted this apple sauce recipe which can be served with sausages (as well as pork, salt pork, duck and goose). What made me want to do this recipe is that allows one use sausage as the meat in a Sunday dinner rather than a roast meat which can be a pain to do if there is a lot going on in the day. So it’s good old sausage and mash for dinner.
The recipe asks for Cox’s Orange Pippins, Laxtons or James Grieve apples. These are not available in America (as far as I know), and so for any Northern Americans amongst us (and I know there are several), go for Mackintosh apples instead – they have the tart mealiness of a Cox’s Pippin.
There are several apple sauce recipes in English Food and I have now hit a bit of a brick wall – the remaining recipes all use Bramley’s seedlings which can’t be found in the USA, and I haven’t been able to find an appropriate alternative. If anyone has any suggestions, let me know!
Roughly chop 12 ounces of apples – no need to peel or core them. Add them to a saucepan along with a strip of lemon peel and 3 ounces of water (by weight!). Cover and simmer until soft. Pass them through a sieve into a bowl, forcing the apple flesh through to produce a smooth puree. Return to the saucepan and simmer quite briskly until the puree thickens and starts to spit and bubble a little. Stir in an ounce of butter and season with pepper and a little salt, but only if the butter was unsalted.

#279 Apple Sauce II. A slightly strange sauce this. I liked the fact it was unsweetened – bought apple sauces are far too sweet I think and they don’t always do a good job of cutting through the rich, greasy meat it’s usually served with. The butter enriched it but didn’t make the whole thing sickly like I expected. A good sauce, but nothing to write home home about! 5.5/10.

#278 Crempog Las

Well Shrove Tuesday is almost here, so I thought I’d provide a pancake recipe from English Food. This one is perhaps a more alternative recipe as it is most definitely savoury rather than sweet, and best served up with sausages, bacon and eggs as a breakfast dish rather than for a Pancake Day evening pig-out. In America, people seem to be having much more fun with their Mardi Gras celebrations…
The Welsh seem much more adept at pancakes than the English and I suppose that’s why there are so many Welsh recipes in the Pancakes and Griddle Cakes section of the Teatime chapter of the book. If they weren’t counted, there would be slim pickings. Crempog Las, by the way, translates as green pancakes in Welsh (check out this site for more information on this dish and other Welsh dishes). I didn’t have high hopes as there has been a bad run of recipes from this section…
The other reason why I wanted to cook these pancakes is that I found a pack of sausages that I bought from Harrison Hog Farms. They have a stall at the Rice University Farmers’ Market and breed pigs that look suspiciously like Gloucester Old Spots; a fine old English breed, so I thought they can’t be bad. Naturally, I put in them in the freezer and promptly forgot about them. Even though I have only been in my Texan apartment for five months, I have managed to almost fill my freezer with bits that I see in shops and left overs like wine, egg whites, breadcrumbs and what-not that I expect one day will come in useful. I decided that it needs emptying. It is for the same reason that later on this week I will be doing oxtail soup.
Anyways, I have wittered on far too much:
Using a whisk, mix together four ounces of plain flour, a large egg, a dessertspoon of finely chopped parsley, a heaped teaspoon of finely chopped shallot and enough milk to make a thick batter. Season with salt and pepper. Fry the pancakes in some oil or grease  over a moderately-high heat until golden brown – two or three minutes a side should do it. That’s it. Serve with butter or as part of a fried breakfast.
#278 Crempog Las. These were delicious! A subtle savouriness from the slightly sweet-acrid shallot and the grassy freshness of parsley made them very morish. I am definitely adding these to my breakfast arsenal. Give them a try, they are so very, very easy. 7.5/10.

#210 Coarse Chicken Liver Pate

Hello there Grigsoners! I have had a brief hiatus from blogging of late – life has simply gotten in the way. I shall spare you the boring details. December has not been the productive month I hoped, but I did make this pâté. It was intended for the Evolution Group’s Christmas Party, but I was rather ill on the day and therefore had to eat this over several days afterwards. No mean feat seeing as it serves eight.

If you are thinking of having some pâté this Christmas, try making this one. The best thing about it is that you can make it around three days before you want to eat it. I am not going to make the glaringly obvious point that pâté is not English.

Start off by removing the gall bladders and stringy bits from 8 ounces of chicken livers. Keep aside half of the nicest looking ones and pass the rest through a mincer along with a small onion, a small clove of garlic and two rashers of streaky bacon. To the minced mixture, mix in 8 to 12 ounces of sausagemeat (the best thing to do is buy good sausages and peel them), a pinch each of thyme and oregano, some salt and some black and Cayenne peppers, plus 2 tablespoons each of sherry and brandy and a tablespoon of drained green peppercorns. When all is mixed in well, you can start putting the thing together in layers in an ovenproof pot, though you should taste the mixture first to check for seasoning (it sounds foul, but it really isn’t that bad). Start with some of the mixture, then half the reserved livers, then more mix, the rest of the livers, and a final layer of mixture. Cover with some back fat or pork skin and place in a roasting tin and pour in some boiling water. Place it in the oven for 45 minutes at 180⁰C, or until the pâté starts to come away from the edges of the pot. Once half cool, place some light weights on top and leave for two or three days before serving with toast or ‘good bread’.


#210 Coarse Chicken Liver Pâté. This was delicious and couldn’t get enough of it. I happy munched my way through the whole thing over four days. The herbs were delicate in flavour and complimented the creamy livers well. The booze made it sweet and moist, but the peppercorns made the whole thing sublime. A really delicious recipe – never buy your pâté again and have a go at this one! 8.5/10

#148 Venison Sausages

Contrary to what you may think; I am not a big meat eater – I’m just not picky! However, I’ve been having a hankering for meat recently, not sure why. Anyways, at the butcher, I spotted some venison sausages that looked very fine indeed so I bought them. They turned out to be from Lyme Park not too far away from me in the Peak District, so the old food miles were happily reduced. Venison sausages are available pretty much anywhere, but a word of warning people – venison from supermarkets probably won’t be British. Supermarket venison usually comes from big deer farms in New Zealand. It’s not bad meat; it’s just flown a long way! Buy yours from your local butcher to get local venison.

This is what the Lady Grigson says to do with your venison sausages:

Fry them in lard or oil very quickly so that they develop nice dark stripes and arrange them closely in a shallow oven dish. Pour in enough red wine to come half-way up the sausages and season them. Bake in a hot oven – 200°C – for 15 minutes. Serve them with mashed potato and some seasonal greens – she says Brussels sprouts and chestnuts, but as it’s Maytime, I plumped for green beans. Pour a little of seasoned wine over the sausages if you like.


#148 Venison Sausages – 7/10. A great way to cook special sausages of any kind I reckon. I’m not giving an excellent score because the venison sausages were good, but not the best ones I’ve ever had. However, the red wine did improve the flavour a lot. The most important thing was that it scratched my red meat itch. The best thing about the whole thing was the fried mashed potato sandwiches I made the morning after. You must try it – fry patties of left-over mash in lard until a crispy crust develops, turn them over and put them in a buttie with brown sauce.