Monday 30 December 2013

Chorizo and Pasta

Chorizo and Pasta

Tonight’s meal was a quick and easy dish. I cooked up Spanish chorizo sausages added them to a sauce which was combined with pasta. Quick, easy, delicious.

The sausages were chorizo made by Mariano’s Spanish Goods in Christchurch. This is the third review of sausages made by Mariano in Christchurch. Here in Wellington they are stocked by Moore Wilsons. For butifarra see link, for malaguena see link. In 2010 this sausage was the winner of the artisan awards run by Cuisine Magazine.

These sausages are made from free range pork. The ingredients are listed as pork, 85%, pork fat 15%, along with salt, paprika, garlic and edible casing. On Mariano’s website he extols the chorizo sausage. The paprika used is Spanish, of course. This is a combination of mild and smoked paprika. Once the pork is minced the spices are added to allow the flavours to meld. The sausage mixture is rested overnight, and the following day the sausages are filled by hand. This sausage has a medium grind and is nice and chunky. These sausages are gluten free and contain no nitrates and additives.

When these were cooked they oozed quite a bit fat and liquid. I did sample the sausage once cooked, naturally. They had a very pleasant flavour. The heat of paprika is present but does not overpower the meat. They are a spicy sausage that will probably not appeal to all. However, as a chorizo, this is a very good sausage. And for those looking for a sausage with a bit of heat, this fits the bill. A balance is achieved between the spice and meat. In some chorizo sausage it seems that all you can taste is the heat of the paprika.

I made a quick pasta sauce using fresh basil, ground black pepper, tomatoes and mushrooms. This cooked as the pasta boiled. The chopped up chunks of the chorizo were added to the sauce with fresh parmesan cheese grated over the top.

A quick, easy and delicious meal.

Cost per packet: $12.95 - five sausages were in the packet.

Friday 27 December 2013

Toulouse Sausages with Mrs Chippy

Toulouse Sausages with Mrs Chippy

The post Christmas celebration began with a gathering to eat the leftovers from a variety of Christmas dinners. Our whanau headed off to friends. There four families met with a wide variety of leftovers.

As it was raining on Christmas Eve we also took fireworks, but we left the floating Chinese lanterns at home. It was too windy to launch a hot air balloon into the night. With eight adults and lots of teenagers (9 definitely qualifies as a lot), the adults hung about in the house while the kids were in an old garage that has been converted into a hangout place. A win-win for all concerned!

I broke the rules and offered to supply sausages. I took Dutch Braadworst and Toulouse sausages both made by Park Avenue Quality Meats. The Dutch Braadworst have been reviewed previously and in my opinion are the best plain meat sausage available in Wellington. They are also a great price at $16.99 per kilo, see link.

The Toulouse sausage is finely ground, with smalls lumps of meat. The taste has a flavour of wine, garlic and pepper. These subtle flavours complement the meat and do not over power the predominant flavour of pork. It’s a very nice sausage that will have a wide appeal. I recommend this sausage and will buy this again.

Gordon the butcher at Park Avenue said to me that some customers consider the Toulouse sausage to be his best sausage. I consider it is very good but still prefer the Dutch Braadworst in their traditional sausage range to be the nicest sausage they make.

The evening was a bit more subdued than Christmas Eve, more of a recovery session after Christmas Day. It was a very pleasant evening with much laughter and a bonus short expedition to the Karori Cemetery to see Mrs Chippy, the cat who is memorialised on the grave of Harry McNish who was the carpenter on Earnest Shackleton’s Antarctic expedition. When events made the circumstances of the expedition very dire, Mrs Chippy was killed. Harry McNish was a bit septic when this occurred. However Shackleton recognised his skills and made him part of the crew that made the epic 800 nautical mile voyage from Elephant Island to South Georgia across the Southern Ocean. This was sailed in an open topped life boat. A truly heroic feat.


Cost per kilo: $18.99

Thursday 26 December 2013

Replete on Christmas day

Replete on Christmas Day
Our whanau gathered at our house for Christmas lunch. We had thought that the barbecue may be in the garage due to the inclement weather that was forecast but that was not to be. Instead the weather was pleasant, around twenty-two degrees, fine and not very windy, just great for the barbecue. The weather forecasters got it wrong. This resulted in a bit of gip for the meteorologist brother in law.

I had woken a little tired, as the previous evening we had gone to friends for a Christmas Eve dinner. Great fun, twenty of us around a double table as some local families celebrated the year. I offered to supply sausages, but our host declined as she had made beef Wellington for all those present. The music reflected the 1980’s, interspersed with the Russian national anthem and well known Christmas songs. We got home after midnight, and although we didn’t see Santa in his sleigh delivering presents, we kept a watchful eye out for any stray reindeer.

As lunch approached the barbecue was fired up, I cooked a butterflied leg of lamb, and three snarlers, Island Bay chicken sausages, Mariano’s Spanish Foods butifarra, see link, along with my personal favourites chorizo coriollo from Park Avenue Quality Meats, see link.

The chicken sausages from Island Bay Butchery are very good. They are a very high quality chicken sausage. To achieve this you need to use real chicken meat. These sausages use corn fed chicken breast and thigh meat. Too many poor quality chicken sausages omit the use of quality chicken meat. If you do use quality ingredients this is reflected in the superior taste of the cooked product.
The chicken sausage is a thin sausage, it is finely ground, and you can see small lumps of meat within the finer ground inner of the sausage. These cook well and are appreciated by a wide range of sausage eaters. These sausages taste of chicken, they also have a flavour of tarragon, and you can see the flecks of tarragon that is used to augment the chicken flavour. I consider these sausages to be the best chicken sausages you can purchase in Wellington. They will appeal to a very wide spectrum of people including those who may normally refrain from eating sausages.

The table had ample food as is traditional at Christmas gatherings - three varieties of sausage, barbecued lamb, a salmon cooked with red onion, garlic, rosemary, lemon and seasonings, a couple of salads, potatoes and asparagus. A wide array of desserts followed the main course. A hearty Christmas lunch for the whanau with plenty left over to eat and share in the days ahead.

Christmas is also a time to reflect on life and also to remember that not everyone in our society is as fortunate as our family. Some in our society are doing it tough. As a fortunate member of society we need to contribute towards the welfare of others.

Everyone present had satisfied taste buds and full belly. We then adjourned down to the park to play a game of cricket. The kids have a wide range of skills, and the adults also had a variety of cricketing ability. I managed to play the ball onto the stumps at both my turns of bat. The aim was the big slog, the result a nick onto the stumps and out. The children, nieces and nephews found this wildly amusing.

At the end of the day there was contentment, fine weather, fine food, fine company and of course even finer sausages. All three are beauties that I would highly recommend.

Merry Christmas to all – I hope your table and homes were similarly laden with the pleasures of life.

Monday 23 December 2013

John Campbell is my kind of guy.

John Campbell is my kind of guy.

This quote from John Campbell, TV3 journalist, appeared in the Sunday Magazine which is part of the Sunday Star Times newspaper. John sounds like my kind of guy.

You are asked to bring a plate to the barbecue. What is on yours?

"Sausages. I love sausages. Not the best piece of steak. Not organic chicken marinated in the juice of the rarest flower from the Amazon jungle. Not even calamari caught by an Italian super-model. Just sausages."

John would be welcome for a barbeque at my house anytime he’s in Wellington – I might even be persuaded to give him a guided tour to the array of sausages in our deep freeze, if he’s interested.

Sausage selection for Christmas dinner.

Sausage selection for Christmas dinner.

Christmas is a time for whanau. This year our family is hosting Christmas lunch at our place. It will be the usual barbecue based meal with a wide assortment of foods that will be enjoyed by all the whanau. You probably won’t be surprised that for many years I have been the provider of sausages.

Some of my family are not keen on the spicier variety of sausages, in spite of my best efforts over a number of years to educate them on the finer points of sausage cuisine. So this year’s selection tries to cater to all tastes.

I have chosen Island Bay Butcher’s chicken sausages, as these are a genuine crowd pleaser. As Sausage Boy’s sister said, "Everyone likes chicken sausages and Island Bay makes the best." I have also selected Butifarra from Mariano’s Spanish Goods in Christchurch, link. The highlight for me will be chorizo coriollo from Park Avenue Quality Meats, link.

So I am looking forward to an enjoyable Christmas Day. Hopefully the weather will be good, the barbecue will be fired up and everybody will have a good time, at your house as well as mine.

Wednesday 11 December 2013

Don's Sausage Awards 2013

Don's Sausage Awards 2013

A wide range of people who know I pen this sausage blog ask me, "What is your favourite sausage?" My response is, "That is like asking an oenophile what is their favourite wine? There are sausages for all occasions, and for all taste preferences. It is not a simple response. It all depends on what you are after.

Today a vegetarian work colleague asked me to recommend sausages for the barbie over the Christmas season. She wanted to know what to buy for her carnivorous family.

I thought I might make a few recommendations. So with a drum roll, flashing lights and rolling out the red carpet here are the Sausage Awards for 2013….
A plain meat sausage:
Winner: Dutch Braadworst – Park Avenue Quality Meats link
Runner Up – Harmony Wild Boar Sausage – Moore Wilsons link
A sausage with a little bit of spice and smokiness
Kabonosy – Park Avenue Quality Meats link
A sausage with more spice
Chorizo Coriollo – Park Avenue Quality Meats link
Hot and spicy
Sremska – Park Avenue Quality Meats link
A little bit of flavour
Pork and Fennel – Island Bay Butchery link
Chicken Sausage
Chicken Sausage – Island Bay Butchery 
I have just realised I have never reviewed this sausages. No review, but they are best chicken sausages in Wellington.
I have now added a review link
Handmade Gourmet
Butifarra – made by Mariano's Spanish Goods, sold by Moore Wilsons link
Pre cooked barbecue sausage
Turingia Bratwurst – Prestons Master Butchers link
Enjoy the barbies over summer. You will only know that your preference is by trying a wide variety and savouring the taste of quality sausages.
And for those of you still reading....
My favourite sausage in December 2013 is Chorizo Criollo.
Meri Kerihimete
Merry Christmas


Monday 9 December 2013

Malaguena - an Andalucian sausage

Malaguena – an Andalucian sausage

This is the second review I have done of sausages made by Mariano’s Spanish Goods, who are based in Christchurch. I purchased these from Moore Wilsons. Mariano’s Spanish Goods won the Cuisine Artisan Awards for this sausage in 2012 

This is an authentic Andalucian sausage, according to the packaging. The label says, “This succulent spicy sausage …. can be eaten whole or chopped to add life to a salad or mixed dish. The full meaty flavour is accented with hot overtones of chilli and black pepper, making the Malaguena a sausage to remember.” So the marketing puts the sausage in a positive light (as all marketing aims to do). 

The ingredients are listed as 85% pork, 15% pork fat, garlic, salt, black pepper, cayenne, and paprika. 

So what was the sausage like? 

The aim of this blog is cut through the label’s PR spin and offer a perspective of the world of sausages from my point of view. If I like the sausage, I’ll say so. And if I am not keen, I'll voice this opinion too. Of course your view may differ from mine, however in the glory of self-publishing we can all be experts in our chosen field. 

This sausage is hand made. The skins are tubes and are not closed at each end. The sausage handled better than the Butifarra, see review. They cooked nicely with a bit of oozing from the casing. A reasonable amount of liquid came out of the sausage during cooking. I also may have overcooked the sausage a little bit. I am a male and I was having a conversation with my wife, talking to the son about his day at school, cooking sausages and also making a vegetable stir fry. Doing all this multitasking at once, may be considered by many to be beyond most males. And maybe that’s also the case in my house, given the snags were slightly over cooked. 

They were served with a stir fry vege dish, flavoured with garlic, ginger and fresh basil leaves. 

These sausages were very good. They are a soft medium grind. A nice texture to eat. They were hot in taste and this complemented the free range pork.  One of the key issues with spicy hot sausages is getting the balance right between hotness and meat. In too many hot sausages the spice is overpowering, and is the only taste you get on your palate. This is not case in this sausage, the hotness of paprika and cayenne complimented the taste of the meat. My son thought they were good, he described, “the chilli as quite mild.” Number two son, aka Sausage Boy, said they were “very good.” My wife described them by saying, “I loved them, the chilli was nicely balanced with the meat, it was not overpowering. I would love to eat them again.” So as you can see the whanau were keen. So was I and I will happily be purchasing again, just to keep in the good books of my wife. These were an excellent sausage, well worth trying - again and again.

These suasages are gluten free, they have no nitrates and no additives. Just meat and flavours.

Cost per packet: $10.95 – six snarlers in the packet

Tuesday 3 December 2013

Barvarian Sausages from Island Bay

Bavarian Sausages from Island Bay

These sausages won a silver medal in the Pre Cooked Barbecue section at the recent Devro NZ Sausage awards, see report. They are made by Island Bay Butchery. I did not judge this section of the competition, so I was interested to see how they tasted.

I cooked these on a Friday night recently. Friday nights at our place are often a "fend for yourself" dinner. I tend to get home from work, have low motivation for cooking, and don’t feel inclined to the "hunter-gather" routine searching out food for the whanau in the local community. As we don’t eat pets, and barbecuing the neighbour’s cat or dog doesn’t do a lot for neighbourly relations, the term "hunter-gather" in our household is a euphemism for takeaways. The Northland shops over the years have changed from a couple dairies, post office, hairdresser, chemist, butcher and green grocer to being a strip of takeaway joints comprising three pizza places, fish and chips, burgers and, the latest innovation, an Indian curry cafe. If the "hunter-gather" option is not pursued, it is often fend for yourself in the kitchen. The food on Friday night generally ranges from sausages, tins of baked beans, eggs, to the odd sandwich.

So what were the Bavarian sausages like? They were good. They are precooked so only need heating through. The butcher told me they are made from free range pork, that is finely ground. They have a hint of caraway seed and cayenne pepper. I should emphasis these are just a hint of flavour - very slight. This a sausage aimed at the NZ barbecue market so the predominant flavour is meat. The whole whanau liked the sausages. My sister even popped in and sampled one, and she was keen on it too. I did get a whole caraway seed, after the rest of the mouthful had disappeared down the gullet. I crunched it between the teeth and I got that intense burst of caraway flavour, the only one of the meal.

I would buy these sausages again, however the preferred sausage is the gold medal winner. You can see a review of the gold medal winner in this category here.
Cost per kilo: $19.95
However I still judge all plain meat sausages against the Dutch Braadworst made by Park Avenue Quality Meats. This sausage is superior in both taste and price. Although it is not a pre cooked sausage.  See review.