For this year’s sausage survey we focused on a high proportion of meat. It had to be over 65% — a substantial sausage that would barbecue well in summer, but that also could be simmered gently in a tomato sauce for 15 minutes to make a quick meal — this way, sausages don’t have to be grilled/fried first.
We tested by grilling. None of them broke their casings — though they looked quite delicate, some skins were strong enough to wear as a wetsuit.
We looked for balanced spicing and a natural, meaty flavour and texture. Some sausages had the flavour enhancer monosodium glutamate (E621) which some people
are sensitive to, as they can be to other additives, including sodium metabisulphite (E223) and diphosphates (E450) which are added to sausages to prevent bacteria growth.
As with all foods, even without additives, observe children and adults having any kind of skin or breathing difficulty if they eat a lot of their favourites.
We also watched for salt content which in the taste can be modified by the addition of sugar. Some samples didn’t make the top eight for excessive salt.
Eat sausages with new potatoes and a few salads. An Irish breakfast, high in meat and fat, needs to be balanced with grilled tomato, mushrooms and a sprinkling of parsley, and try chopped fruit, shredded raw kale or lettuce and some grated raw courgette to make the best of summer fruit and vegetables.
Ballinwillin House Farm Wild Boar Sausages, 450g, €8
We tasted two from this Mitchelstown-based farm which sells directly online. Farm venison (75% meat) was rich, with plenty of lean meat.
The delicious wild boar (70% meat) sausage (more popular with the younger tasters) was full of natural pork flavours. Free-range makes a difference.
Contains MSG. Sausages to make a meal of. Stock up in winter for easy stews. In packs of eight; from ballinwillinhouse.com.
O’Flynn’s Gourmet Sausage Company 540g, €5
Two each of three flavours (Cumberland, Garlic & Herb and Spicy Mediterranean) is good for variety and have 70% pork, rusk, potato starch, salt (no quantity given), herbs and black pepper.
Tasters liked all flavours which were not overdone or oversalted and allowed the pork taste to come through. A natural texture with no fatty aftertaste made them a hit with all ages.
We bought in Quish’s SuperValu Ballincollig, Cork.
McCarthy’s of Kanturk 416g €3.32
With 80% Irish pork, these have a natural flavour and texture. While no salt percentage given, they weren’t salty and the spices, while quite vivid, were well balanced. Available in selected SuperValu, Bradley’s, North Main Street, and other delis, Cork.
Tesco Finest Irish Pork, Smoked Paprika & Honey Sausages 454g €2.60
Six sausages have 80% pork, apple, pea flour, dried apple, honey, salt 1.3%, spices including smoked paprika which, with tomato powder, adds to a slightly red colour. Not over salty, the full flavour was natural and the spices gentle. A good all-rounder.
Marks & Spencer Caramelised Onion Posh Dogs 600g €5.80
A huge hit with all ages, adults were surprised that the added American-style mustard throughout appealed to the two young tasters.
They liked the cross between a hot dog and sausage texture (not as rubbery as a hot dog) and the crunchy onion on top. Well balanced
flavourings and a gluten-free crumb is used. 72% British pork is decent. With no toppings needed, ideal for picnics.
Superquinn Irish Sausages 492g €4
A decent 80% pork and 1.9% salt in this pack of 12 sausages made these a good buy. Not overspiced with no dry herb flavours, a proper sausage as you would expect a traditional one to be.
Contains MSG. A juicy texture, not too fatty, and enjoyed by all tasters.
Lidl Glensallagh Irish Jumbo Pork Sausages 568g €1.69
This pack of 10 sausages made by Loughnane’s of Galway have 70% pork, 1.7% salt, and MSG. Flavoursome, two tasters agreed it was a good, old-fashioned sausage with a slightly odd, undefinable flavour which one of them liked.
Seanie’s Irish Pork Sausages 454g €3.95
Ten fat sausages with 85% pork had a texture that went down well with tasters. Two didn’t like the flavour of too much dried herb, but the spices were not overdone. Salt is 1.56%. Made in Ballyvourney by De Róiste Foods.