It’s hard to resist a decent, well-flavoured sausage in the summer. Packed with protein and flavour, they do not need to be part of a big breakfast where further fat is added by rashers and black pudding.
Instead, enjoy good-quality sausages with salad and potatoes for supper or lunch, grilling them to allow fat to drip off.
High-fat content (30%, including 12% saturated fats) means we need to keep sausages as a treat.
I often add them to a tomato sauce (homemade or from a jar on time-poor days) or to a can of chickpeas in a saucepan with chopped onion, peas or baked beans and seasonal fresh herbs.
To avoid burning when frying, add a tablespoon of water to the frying pan and place the lid on. This ensures quick cooking all the way through.
We can expect sulphites in most sausages and about 2% salt. 10% to 16% protein, depending on the amount and type of meat, means they can provide satisfying sustenance for a few hours.
Be careful when barbecuing sausages. The link between charred food and cancer seems to be strengthening. The best way is to cook them slowly, even wrapped in tin foil initially.
Pork goes off easily, so a cool bag/box in the car is essential if travelling. A safer picnic alternative is to cook them at home and bring them with you, wrapped in tin foil.
Woodside Farm free-range pork sausages
Free range pork from pigs reared on their own farm, the Conroy family in East Cork is a perfect example of farm to fork. Tasters loved the meaty sausages and found it easy to believe the high 90% pork content. Salt and pepper were not overdone. The eight chunky sausages grilled and fried beautifully. An excellent Irish product available in country markets and Ballymaloe cookery school shop.
Dunnes Stores Simply Better fennel & garlic
Made by Arthur Mallon Foods in Co Monaghan, tasters were pleasantly surprised at how they could discern the interesting garlic and fennel flavours. The six, quite fat sausages kept their shape and grilled and fried well. A decent 80% pork, they had lower fat than some at 22%, including 8.1% saturated fats and slightly lower salt at 1.7% salt. A good one.
McCarthy’s of Kanturk bramley apple sausages
80% Irish pork provides decent bite here for a proper, traditional, fat sausage. Apple doesn’t provide much added flavour, and salt and spices are there, but not overdone. There are no nutritional values on the pack to guide us, however, the high pork content and lack of gristle in the mix kept all tasters happy. Widely available and online at jackmcarthy.ie
Rankin pork & caramelised red onion sausages
From pigs mercifully reared out of doors in Britain, these sausages are made in Northern Ireland and have 80% pork. The taste of sweet, caramelised onions contrasted well with the rich pork flavour and the texture was good with no gnarly bits as we found in the samples which didn’t make our Top 8. Bought in Dunnes Stores.
Clonakilty black pudding sausages
This interesting idea caught my eye and did not disappoint in a well-balanced blend of sausage and black pudding. Six medium-thick sausages are made from 63% Irish pork, pork fat and 12% black pudding. At 31%, fats — including 12% saturated fats — were typically high, but surprisingly not more than other sausages. There is MSG added for flavour and still 2% salt.
These 12 sausages made from 80% pork had quiet lean meat, with no gristle, and were enjoyed by all tasters. 27% fats including 9.9% saturated fats with 1.8% salt were average to high, but the sausages were not oversalted or overspiced. Delicious. From SuperValu.
Marks & Spencer skinny pork sausages
400g €4.60 (2 packs for €7)
With very low 2.5% fats of which 0.8% are saturated fats, these are a favourite of diet planners. Protein is a decent 16.6% and salt at 1.38% is fine. The only criticism is of the tough casing made from pork, otherwise a low-fat product with no compromise to taste and texture which was liked by all tasters.
Lidl Deluxe hand-tied pork sausages
We are not sure what difference hand tied makes to sausages, but a few samples had them on their labels.
Here 80% Irish pork has 23.9% fats including 8.1% sat fats, protein 12.5% and salt 1.44%, so a good all round set of figures. The thin sausages made by Loughnanes of Galway were nicely meaty, quite peppery, but also had MSG.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved