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The health snob’s guide to sausages
Just in time for Christmas, British sausages have been given the all-clear by scientists from Queen's University Belfast after a cancer alert from global health chiefs.
However, that doesn't mean you can scoff cheaper fare guilt-free. Instead, consider this the time to upgrade your bangers. Join us as we cut through the world of artisan sausages for your convenience. You'll still have to make your own mash, though...
If you pig out on bog-standard sausages every day then it’s fair to say that processed evils will soon outweigh their porky gains. But plump for a superior link come cheat day and you can turn the humble sausage into healthy fuel worthy of an epicure’s table.
The easiest way to up your game: contaning more protein and iron than pork, plus an extra slug of creatine, you get a lot more bang for your buck with venison. The dense, rich flavour holds up well to slow cooking in particular.
We’re talking the semi-cured, rust-orange links here, not the fattier vac-packed slices found in the deli aisle. That lurid colour is entirely natural and comes from paprika, a powerhouse spice that adds antioxidants, vitamins and a hefty punch of flavour to any dish.
If there were such a thing as a hipster sausage, then Nduja would be its name. This fiery, spreadable, pork paste from Italy, a staple of foodie shopping lists in 2015, can be added in moderation (or otherwise) to a variety of dishes for a metabolic spike.
Traditionally a fixture of boisterous beer halls, the pride of Bavaria is an efficient source of choline, essential for the formation of brain cells, and SAM-e, a feel-good hormone that relieves depression.
A well-done sausage should be exactly that. Whether you’re grilling or frying, poaching or baking, ensuring the ground meat is cooked through without burning the delicate casing means optimal flavour and minimal carcinogens. A meat thermometer should read 160°F/71°C or be in the ‘well done’ zone on meat-specific models (Rösle, £24, amara.com).
Take your bangers off the heat a minute or so early and let them rest for the same same again while they will continue to cook inside. When it comes to the cut, the gently-serrated blade of a sausage knife (Wustof, £63, selfridges.com) – yes, it’s a thing – pierces the soft skin without squashing the meat and destroying its shape (they work well on tomatoes too). And always, always use a plastic chopping surface (Guzzini, £49, amara.com ): the bacteria found in pork are harder to shift by hand, so a dishwashable board will let you concentrate on most important part of cooking sausages. And that’s eating them.
The Big Bang
A snag dipped in mustard (maybe ketchup, too) is a worthwhile culinary experience in its own right. But with a bit of ingenuity the sausage can form the high-protein centrepiece for a variety of gourmet dishes, all served with a side of healthy benefit.
The final word on frying is poaching, oddly enough. At least it is according to Heston Blumenthal who reckons he has the perfect banger nailed.
- Get into hot water
Poaching first for 30 minutes ensures a thoroughly cooked sausage (minus the charcoal exterior) without loss of moisture.
- Out of the frying pan
Drain, dry, then fry over a medium heat in groundnut oil. Peanut oils don’t go off as quickly as other cooking agents.
- Sizzle in seconds
Three or four minutes is all it should take to brown the skins – they’re already cooked remember – so your saturated fat exposure will be low.
Photography: Louisa Parry.
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