Pork and venison sausage rolls

This is the first of two sponsored posts in partnership with Vitamix, who have just launched the new Ascent Series. 

How do you guys feel about Christmas? We’re supposed to love this time of year. My Instagram feed has been saturated with baubles and bristly trees for a couple of weeks now as people get carried away on an avalanche of boozing, socialising and eating.

Festive food is definitely the highlight of the season. Pork pies, pickles, mince pies and trifle. Christmas, for me, is a time to celebrate traditional British food. I like to emerge in January, whiffing faintly of Silton and mulling spice, like a crumpled party napkin discarded among the glitter of the staff Christmas party. The feasting needs to be full throttle – even paper hats should feel snug come the new year.

A lot of Christmas food is about pork and you know it. Stuffing, pigs in blankets, pork pies and of course, sausage rolls. Some of the most popular recipes of all time (ALL TIME!) on Food Stories are these sausage rolls with whisky caramelised onions and this very quick and easy ‘cheats’ version, to use the language of today’s food magazines.

Pork and venison sausage rolls

This recipe sounds like it’ll take an age to make as it involves mincing two types of meat and grinding spices but guess what? Yup, the Vitamix does all that for you. I’ve worked with Vitamix before, you may recall, and the reason I’m doing it again is that these blenders are genuinely brilliant. They are the nuts. They will blend just about anything and they take a lot of work out of a lot of recipes. I use mine constantly, even when they’re not paying me to do it.

These sausage rolls are an excellent variation on the traditional pork, with the gorgeous wintry flavour of venison but enough pig in there to keep the mix nice and fatty. I’ve added a gentle hum of mace, juniper and white pepper and a batch of sweet, golden onions, caramelised with sherry to really tick those jingle boxes. Festive AF.

Pork and Venison Sausage Rolls with Sherry Onions Recipe

Makes around 24. These are perfect served with a blob of English or Dijon mustard.

400g pork belly, trimmed of excess fat, skin and bone
500g venison haunch, skinned
4 onions, peeled and sliced
25g butter
2 generous pinches good sea salt
2 pinches of mace, ground
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
12 juniper berries, ground
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
175ml Amontillado sherry
2 packs of ready-rolled puff pastry
2 eggs, beaten lightly with a fork (to glaze)

Roughly dice the pork belly and venison haunch, then pop in the freezer while you get the onions going.

Slice the onions, and cook gently with the butter (and a drop of oil) until golden, taking care not to burn them. They’ll need regular stirring, even on the lowest heat. Once they’re nicely caramelised (around half an hour), add the sherry, turn the heat up a little and cook until the liquid has evaporated. When the onions are done, spread them out on a plate to cool, then chop roughly.

In the Vitamix, process the cooled meat in handfuls on setting No. 3, until it looks like sausage meat.

Mix the spices, thyme, salt and onions well into the meat. Remove a teaspoon or so and fry it in a pan to check the seasoning.

Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas 6.

Divide the meat mixture into four. Unwrap the pastry sheets and divide each lengthways into two pieces. Make a sausage of meat down the centre of each strip of pastry, then brush one edge with the beaten egg, fold over and seal. Cut into two-inch lengths or whatever you fancy.

Use scissors to snip the tops if you like (I just think this looks nice), put on a baking tray and glaze with egg. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Serve with mustard.

Quick and Easy Sausage Rolls

My friends ask me for this recipe more than any other. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to type it out here once and for all to save myself typing it out every single time someone asks. Idiot. Anyway, I make these rolls for most parties and gatherings and they always disappear rapidly.

As far as I’m concerned, there are 3 roads you can go down when making sausage rolls. The first involves the most effort and that is to go and buy sausage meat and season it entirely yourself with onion, herbs, spices, whatever (I sometimes use chunks of soaked, dried apricot). The second is to cheat and squeeze the meat from a pack of really good sausages and do nothing else except wrap it in the pastry and the third is the same but with a bit of pimping here and there according to my mood on the day.

This time I used the meat from 6 sausages and felt very strongly that the absolutely essential thing to do was to add more onion and so grated in half a small white one. You could add an extra herb if you’ve chosen quite a plain sausage – sage or thyme are both good choices. The sausage meat is obviously already seasoned so you don’t need to add any salt or pepper. Clearly you’ll need to buy your puff pastry if you want this to be quick and to be honest I’ve never been arsed to make my own anyway.

Probably a 30 minute job from start to scoff. People will love you.

Very Quick and Very Easy Sausage Rolls

400g sausages (or thereabouts)
1 x 320g packet ready-rolled puff pastry
1 egg, beaten
Any pimpage your heart desires – onion, herbs, spices etc. (if you’re unsure you might want to fry off a teaspoon of the meat to test it)

Preheat the oven to 220C

Squeeze the meat out of the sausages, into a bowl. If you are using extra herbs or onion, add them now too. If adding onion, you will need to grate it, otherwise it won’t cook properly. Mix very well with your hands.

Open your pastry out onto a lightly floured surface. If it’s pre-rolled then you’ll just need to roll it a little thinner (same rectangular shape) until it is about the thickness of a 2p coin. Cut it lengthways into 4 strips. Divide your meat into 4 balls then use each of the balls to make a long sausage along each strip of pastry.

Brush one edge of each strip with the beaten egg then fold each roll over and seal it as best you can. Turn it over to make sure it is well sealed. Turn it back over and cut into 1 inch lengths. I like to snip the top of each roll with scissors but it’s not necessary. Brush each roll with more beaten egg then put them on a baking tray (you can lightly grease it but don’t panic if you forget, they won’t stick too badly) and bake for 20 minutes or until golden.

If you’re not serving them on the day you made them, reheat them in the oven for 5 minutes, otherwise they will be soft.