Snarlers. They are one of life’s basic non-negotiables, along with lipstick, sex and shelter – and you can have so much fun with them. New Zealand is a nation of sausage lovers, with 32.5% of us indulging at least once per week. Aucklanders alone eat an estimated 52.8 million sausages a year, but most people agree South Islanders make the best.
The secret to making a good sausage, like a good terrine, is in the perfect combination of meat, fat and salt. In my opinion, sausages should be coarsely – not finely – minced. They should have a bit of fat, some onions or shallots, some spices and herbs, and crispy skins made from gut. The use of nitrite in sausage is a good thing because it makes them so much safer to eat, as well as being more attractive and pinker to look at.
They should have no other preservatives, additives or breadcrumbs (or not too many), and you can make them from anything you like – chicken, fish, seafood, vegetables, offal, pork, beef and lamb. As the domestic goddess that you are, you can get the other people in your household to help you make homemade sausages when entertaining.
If you can’t be bothered fussing with gut and a stuffing machine, just shape them and roll them in breadcrumbs. Or roll them in puff pastry and call them sausage rolls – they’ll taste 10 times better than shop-bought ones. If you’re making fish sausages, mould them into football shapes and steam them.
It’s worth investing in a meat grinder if you entertain often with sausages (and you will once you realise how good homemade ones are) because then you can grind the meat exactly right. You can use the grinder for lots of other preparations too – including fish cakes, steak tartare and shepherd’s pie.
Just go through your cookbooks or go online to find sausage recipes – and get everyone to help make them! When cooking sausages, my friend Glynn Christian always used to say, “Don’t overcook them and cook them slowly.”
You should never have to prick homemade bangers as you haven’t added water. A combination of homemade sausages on a large platter in the middle of the table is the best thing for a group of people on a Sunday afternoon.
Top tips for tasty sausages
1. Cumberland sausage is great kept in its curled wheel, baked and served with mashed potatoes and gravy.
2. Italian pork and dried fennel ones are tasty – blanch for a few minutes then fry or grill. Delicious with sautéed fresh fennel or bok choy.
3. Try to make fresh chorizo sausage full of paprika and pair it with white beans.
4. Fry black pudding with apples and pine nuts.