Duck and cover
I was thinking about starting this by saying that if you were a purist you could argue sausage rolls should contain only sawdust and maybe cardboard. The addition of duck, however, makes a pleasant change. It is my attempt to dress up one of this country’s more popular fast-food staples.
My relationship with sausage rolls depends largely on the weather. If it was really cold, I’d get in the pie queue at tuckshop; if it was a little warmer, I might be tempted by the sausage roll. Either way, I would argue the sausage roll was more of a snack and the pie was an almost square meal.
Now when I eat a sausage roll, it is usually when I am on a road trip. Country town bakeries have maintained a rewarding relationship with this honest British snack.
It does stand out as one of the messiest things to eat while driving, coping with the flaky puff pastry more dangerous than using your phone. Traditionally, sausage rolls were made using shortcrust pastry, which would make for an easier meal to eat behind the wheel.
There are a few basic principles when I consider what makes a good sausage roll. The first is this: a good one hasn’t been in the pie warmer too long, ensuring it doesn’t dry out. And what I like about a country bakery sausage roll is that the meat is often not ground too fine. It still has character, whereas some sausage rolls seem to be made from a meal of unidentifiable pork parts.
The duck in this recipe has been diced, retaining its texture. It also has a fattiness that will soak into the pastry and make for a crispier sausage roll as it cooks. The spice elements here can be easily manipulated. More pepper could be added, as could extra juniper for a more aromatic snack. The duck could also take allspice or nutmeg.
It would be remiss not to mention that while tomato sauce makes sense with a pork sausage roll, this version, with its richer flavours and aromats, works best on its own. If you really, really feel you need to dip the sausage roll into something – probably from the conditioning of pie-warmer dryness – I would recommend a plum sauce.
Duck sausage rolls
– 4 duck legs, boned, skinned and meat chopped (550g meat)
– 1kg coarsely minced pork belly
– 150g pork back fat, diced
– ¼ tsp crushed juniper berries
– 1 tsp chopped thyme leaves
– zest 1 orange
– 2 tsp mustard powder
– 1¼ tbsp salt
– puff pastry
– 2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
– 3 tbsp milk
– 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
Preheat your oven to 190ºC.
Beat the meats, fat, juniper berries, thyme, orange zest, mustard powder and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer until it is well combined in a cohesive, sticky mass.
Refrigerate the meat while you roll out the pastry.
Divide the pastry into three and roll out each piece into a large rectangle about 35 centimetres x 15 centimetres, with the long edge in front of you.
Mix together the egg yolks and milk to make an egg wash for the pastry. Brush the long side of the puff pastry furthest from you with some egg wash.
Place a log of sausage mix down the centre of the pastry. Roll the filling up in the pastry and pinch the two edges of the pastry together to seal them.
Brush the sausage roll with egg wash, cut lightly through the top of the pastry to mark out portions and sprinkle with some thyme leaves. Repeat with the remaining rectangles of pastry and filling, and chill the rolls for 30 minutes before baking.
Bake the sausage rolls for 20 minutes or until they are golden and crisp.
Bridge Road Brewers Biere de Garde, Beechworth, Victoria ($15)
– Leanne Altmann, wine buyer, Supernormal and Meatsmith
This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Aug 20, 2016 as "Duck sausage rolls". Subscribe here.