Michel Roux Jr talks sausages
British Sausage Week 2015 (2-8 November) is challenging the nation to reconsider the humble banger. The ambassador of this year’s Sausage Week is Michel Roux Jr. EC talks to Michel about all things sausage and discovers why he is such a fan of this great British tradition.
EC: As a Michelin-starred chef, what made you become involved with British Sausage Week?
Michel: I’m delighted to be involved in British Sausage Week, and celebrate the best quality sausages from around the country. I have always enjoyed experimenting with classic dishes and ingredients, without compromising on quality – with sausages you can do so much. It’s time to rethink the humble banger and look beyond mash and gravy to give sausages a bit of the Michelin-star treatment!
EC: What are your favourite sausage dishes?
Michel: For a classic dish, I like sausages in pastry. The traditional British version is called pigs in blankets of course, and is normally made with flaky pastry. But for me, with my French roots, I like to wrap a sausage in brioche so it’s more of a rich, buttery bread dough. You need a really good quality pork sausage and it has to be chunky.
For something more innovative, I would probably pick one of the recipes I developed for British Sausage Week, such as the Wasabi Duchess Potato with Honey and Soy Glazed Sausage, which has a bit of chilli in it. Again, you need to use a good quality pork sausage, possibly with a bit of leek or onion so it has a flavour, but not too overpowering as there’s a lot of chilli and other flavours in the recipe.
EC: Do you have a preference on sausage variety or flavour?
Michel: Being a die-hard classicist, I love classic flavours so pork and sage, pork and rosemary or pork and leek – great flavours that show off the quality of the pork. I’m open to more modern interpretations, however, and recently tasted a pork, black pudding and apple sausage. It was delicious, all the flavours went together really well. I also like adding seasonal flavours and ingredients, so pork and chestnut, pork and wild mushrooms. In summertime, it would be pork and tomato or pork and fennel. Seasonality is quite important to me.
EC: What are your top tips when it comes to preparing and serving sausages?
Michel: Sausages are extremely versatile, because they have different flavours and go with different combinations. One of the dishes I created for British Sausage Week, Sausage Bourguignon, is usually associated with beef, but in my recipe it’s basically a pork sausage casserole using red wine and it is great served with a creamy mash potato.
There are many ways to cook sausages; grilled is one of my favourite ways as it gives a lovely smoky flavour. You can roast and even poach them. If you’re BBQ-ing sausages poach them first and then put them on the BBQ to ensure they’re cooked through.
EC: How important is it to source quality assured sausages?
Michel: As chefs we should always seek out quality ingredients and this, of course, includes sausages. We should always look for the best quality ingredients. Provenance is important to me too; more and more customers are asking where products come from. It’s important to know where the ingredients come from so you can be sure of the quality.
EC: How do you suggest we rethink the humble banger?
Michel: You can make sausages exciting. Sausages are great, even simply grilled in a sausage sandwich they’re delicious, who doesn’t like that? But you can be clever and innovative too; take my two recipes, they are simple and they use classic techniques, but they transform sausages into a completely different dish. Chefs and caterers can sell sausages as a great British tradition, but make it in a different way.
EC: What would make a Michelin-star sausage recipe?
Michel: A pork sausage in brioche bread is a good example of taking something humble and making it really special. You need a great quality sausage, wrapped in brioche and served with a truffle sauce. There are many ways to do it, but this is one of my favourite ways to pimp up a sausage.
EC: Why do you think sausages remain such a firm favourite?
Michel: They are still seen as comfort food, they’re a staple, they’re quick to cook, they’re economical, and filling – sausages tick a lot of boxes! They’re a great British tradition!
Pork & Leek Sausage Bourguignon
A French classic with a British twist
- 8 pork & leek sausages
- 12 button onions peeled
- 12 button mushrooms
- 2 carrots peeled and sliced
- 500ml strong red wine
- 500ml beef stock
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp plain flour Salt, pepper
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 spring thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- Boil the wine with the thyme, bay leaf and sugar until reduced by half, pass through a sieve and set aside.
- Cook the onions in a saucepan until golden using all the butter, then add the flour, garlic and mix well with a wooden spoon. Pour in the wine and stock, bring to the boil, add the mushrooms and carrots.
- Lightly grill the sausages until coloured but not cooked through. Add these to the red wine sauce and continue to simmer for 20 minutes.
- Check the seasoning, sprinkle with a little chopped parsley and serve with either a creamy mashed potato or buttered new potatoes.
Wasabi Duchess Potato with Honey & Soy Glazed Sausage
- 3 baked potatoes, mashed
- 2 tbsp butter
- 4 egg yolks
- Salt, wasabi paste to taste
- 6 pork sausages - Cumberland sausages are a good option
- 1 red chilli
- 2 tbsp honey
- 6 tbsp soy
- 1 lime, juiced
- Take the mashed potato and, while still warm, beat in the butter, yolks and seasoning, adding as much wasabi as you like.
- Place this in a piping bag with a star nozzle; onto a non-stick tray pipe circles the shape of doughnuts with a hole in the middle.
- Take the skin off the sausages and shape the meat into 4 balls that fit into the hole of the doughnut.
- Bake in the oven at 200ºC for 10 minutes. The sausage meat should be cooked and the potato golden.
- Bring the honey, soy and lime juice to the boil, then simmer until sticky.
- Use to glaze the sausage meat, then sprinkle thinly sliced chilli on top for a real kick.
Recipes courtesy of Michel Roux JR.
For more information on British Sausage Week visit www.lovepork.co.uk.