In Spain, they say, “six people, seven opinions”, and this year’s sausage test turned out to be just like that. Lots of opinions, first on paper, keeping to ourselves, then in the discussion which revealed the differences, all passionate.
Starting with 16 samples, as in political elections, some got turfed out unanimously, mainly meat-free and chicken varieties that had dried herb, over-salted flavours or over-processed textures. Some were over spiced with chilli overpowering their meaty flavours. Because we were tasting fresh sausages, we couldn’t include the excellent farmers’ markets held on different days of the week. They have many great sausages from pigs reared on their farms.
We have enjoyed superb sausages from Gubbeen bought at Mahon Point market, Cork, for example, from Ballinwillin, Caherbeg/Rossbcarbery, Woodside.
Butchers often make their own, and O’Flynn’s Marlboro Street Cork led the way in providing us with huge variety. O’Mahony, English Market, is adventurous.
For Father’s Day on Sunday, a barbecue can be dad’s domain – a flick of the wrist, the long tongs his sword of honour. A slice of sourdough, a smear of mustard, a blob of tomato ketchup, a slick of chutney, a layering of cucumber relish, lettuce, tomato – the possibilities are endless.
We cooked on the barbecue, and our Top 8 selection was hard won.
SuperValu Signature Taste Leek & Black Pepper 380g €2.19
This got the highest marks for its perfect, gentle spicing with soft leek flavour in the background. A good meaty texture - “not fancy but in a good way”, one taster said. 70% pork is decent with leek 2.2%. At 1.8% salt is high, but average by comparison with other brands. There’s 1.1g per sausage so avoid having other salty foods with it.
With 65% pork and 12% black pudding flecked throughout, this was overall the second choice of tasters, the first choice for two of them. One said this was the sausage he’d favour for his next barbecue. At 1.9% salt is high so avoid more salty foods with it. Spicing is laced with black pepper and pimento softened by warm nutmeg and onion, and there is good depth of flavour. Tasters liked the meaty texture.
Outdoor bred, there’s good flavour here and one gave it her top mark. 85% pork, the gluten free crumb is made from rice flour, chickpea flour, cornflour, with salt of 1.48%. The flavours are smoked paprika, coriander, nutmeg, a little ginger and cayenne, dried garlic. A bang-on banger, one said. All agreed the seasoning was particularly good and a crowd pleaser. One thought the texture was over-processed.
A decent 80% pork here with apple next on the list of ingredients, delivering a mix of appreciation of delicious spicing. One taster found it too sweet with not enough paprika - he expected more spice when it was so red. One thought it too fatty, yet juicy. Overall it was enjoyed and not much was left after the tasting. Salt at 1.3% is relatively moderate.
Tasters were divided about this one. Too loose in texture, falling apart when the tough skin was broken, bland taste, commented one half of the group. The other half found a good balance of flavours and texture, and not too peppery. 75% Irish pork and salt 1.12%. Made by Loughnanes, Galway.
No quantities of pork given, but there is a good amount of it and some rusk. Tasters liked the juicy texture of the old school, proper sausage style. They disagreed on flavouring, one believing it was too peppery, and also a bit fatty. The others thought it well seasoned and delicious.
With 35% each pork and beef, flavoured with barely discernible 1% Murphy’s Stout, onion and herbs, tasters noticed some gristle but liked the spicing. They also enjoyed the Liam O’Flynn sausage (no beef) from a good range. Low salt at 0.73% is a plus. Worth trying all of the different flavours one at a time from its English Market Cork stall (€1 each).
This concentric circle is a tradition of South Africa where they do barbecues (braai) well. A decent 90% beef for some was over seasoned – there is monosodium glutamate (MSG). It grills well on the barbecue, fastened with a skewer. Made in Newtownards, Co Down.