Gourmet Secrets: A succulent deal
“Wet” sausages, that need to be cooked, either in a frying pan or grilled, have become so much a part of the baggage of British national sentiment that people are often referred to as “you silly old sausage”!Updated: Oct 28, 2018 00:53 IST
Whenever I attempt a totally vegetarian or vegan diet, the foods which tempt me most and eventually drive me back to the non vegetarian stable are not what I think I love most, like a plate of succulent garlic butter prawns or Chinese style steamed fish, but pork products like bacon and sausages. I grew up in England and this lust for sausages must be something to do with culinary nostalgia. It certainly has nothing to do with great taste as far as British food goes! I remember some pretty vile, tasteless sausages served up for school dinners with horrible greasy chips.
In the last few years, food products have dramatically improved in the UK and London is abuzz with fantastic, organic British produce. Borough market near London Bridge has become a great foodie spot in London serving extraordinary British and European cheeses, meats, wines and so on. I did a little research myself and bought a variety of sausages to see what we actually liked best. To my surprise, the ones that came out top were the ones from the Duchy of Cornwall Estates (aka Prince Charles’ place). They were meaty, but not too coarse, juicy on cooking with just the right amount of seasoning and “bite”.
The story of the sausage
The sausages I am talking about are commonly called “wet” sausages because they need to be cooked, either in a frying pan or grilled. This has become so much part of the baggage of British national sentiment that people are often referred to as “you silly old sausage”. It is also called “banger” and in Germany it is ‘wurst”. It has nothing to do with the European dry cured sausage (saucisson in French or salami in Italian), which is hung, sometimes smoked until dry and then thinly sliced and eaten as is.
In the interest of journalism, I went around my local shops in Pune trying to find the best sausage available here. Alas, most were either fine meat pastes which when cooked, tasted like pasty, flavoured meat with too much seasoning. A great deal of them were more like frankfurters or hot dogs, better suited to boiling and stuffing in a hot dog. I found no real, slightly coarse, meaty ones which were perfect imitations of the British counterpart. Then I came across a dish of fantastic “British bangers” served up at the Conrad in Pune. I presumed they were imported but found that they actually came from a company in Delhi, Farmland Premium Foods. The pork is Belgian and imported (as is their lamb) and they sell chops and loin and all that too. With all the bits and bobs they make sausages and the most amazing range of Italian cold cuts from Toscano salami to the Calabrian specialty spicy soft sausage, nduja and pancetta, indispensable for spaghetti Carbonara.
Behind the scenes
I was amazed and immediately got on the phone the next morning to find out more. This was no amateur operation. Not surprisingly, my old pal chef Bill Marchetti was the man behind the meat! Bill was one of those famous celeb Aussie chefs in the 70s and 80s in Melbourne. Of Italian descent, his dream was to give up life as a traditional chef and get his hands into the making of artisanal charcuterie. His name has been synonymous with Italian food in Australia for over 30 years, culminating in an award winning restaurant, Latino in Melbourne.
In 1997 Bill Marchetti won the coveted Insegna del Ristorante Italiano, an international award given by the Italian Government to recognise authentic Italian Restaurants world-wide. In 2001, he came to India and has never left! At Farmland, he produces and experiments with a whole variety of Italian and German style cold cuts and also produces the best sausages in India…British bangers. The name comes from the sound the sausage makes when it is put into hot oil.
During WW2 when meat was scarce, clever British butchers replaced some of the meat content for a sausage with oats. This caused a splutter in a pan with hot oil and the name they became to be known under. Bill also makes a spicy Calabrian sausage and a wicked Italian luganega (with cheese) amongst the dozen or so sausages they produce. Farmland doesn’t sell retail but with their unit in Chattarpur may be persuaded to deliver in Delhi.
Hot potato and sausage salad
3 large potatoes, peeled or not
5 tbsp butter
½ ltr chicken stock (salted)
1tbsp whole grain mustard
1 tbsp chopped parsley
Peel the potatoes and cut into thick slices. Put the potato slices, butter and stock into a large pan and cook until tender. They will be even better if they have broken up a bit. Remove and cool to room temperature. Heat oil in a pan and fry the sausages till golden brown. Remove and cut them into three pieces each. Remove potato slices and juice into a flat bowl or platter. Add the whole grain mustard. Mix well. Scatter with the chopped parsley and mix in the hot sausages.
First Published: Oct 27, 2018 22:16 IST