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Thursday, 5 January 2012

S&M Rodeo #3: Tesco Finest British Pork & Caramelised Red Onion Sausages

I must confess that it's taken me not quite this long to figure out how best to cook most sausages under my grill. Packaging tends to suggest that mythical 'medium grill heat', and anywhere between 12 and 20 minutes cooking time. The only constant, which should come as no surprise, is that one should "turn occasionally".

For my purposes, the grill is set to somewhere in the region of 175-180C, and I turn every five minutes (1/2 turn, 1/4 turn, 1/2 turn) for a total of 20 minutes cooking. Depending on the sausage, this can result in a dinner that is either cooked to perfection, or burnt to a crisp on the outside, but still succulent within. Particularly if I don't start my 5-minute countdown, then go off and do something for a while before realising I haven't heard the alarm yet.

And so it came to pass that, on this night, I decided to cook myself three of these interesting-sounding Tesco Finest sausages. As a general rule, I find plain sausages quite bland, and some of the embellished recipes can be little better... or outright vile. What could I expect from a simple pork and red onion sausage?

Well, the first sign that I was on to a winner was the scent of the raw sausages when I first opened the packet. That red onion aroma was very strong and sweet - far more so than I would have expected from a meat-and-onion mixture contained within what the packaging describes as "natural pork casings". If a sausage smells that good raw, chances are it'll taste amazing...

...And, dear reader, amazing it most certainly was.

To accompany these sausages, I mixed up some rather bland instant mash (Mr. Mash, supposedly "99% real potato", but I'd guess that the missing 1% is flavour - certainly not an instant mash that I can recommend!) livened up by a dash of basil, and served with some frozen mixed veg (as always, blasted in the microwave). This system has served me well in the past, and I'd say that the blandness of the mash was easily countered by the flavour bursting from the sausages. If these sausages are anything to go by, caramelised red onion must be one of the best accompaniments to pork, its sweetness counterpointing the savoury pork in every bite.

The ingredients list for the caramelised onion lists sugar, cider vinegar, cinnamon and clove alongside the onion, suggesting that it begins its life as something akin to a red onion jam, and is mixed in with the minced pork. Looking at a cross-section of a sausage doesn't bear this out, however, so I guess the onions are fried in a kind of sweet marinade.

The sausages do also contain other seasoning - sea salt, white pepper, marjoram, nutmeg and parsley - but it's the red onion that takes centre stage, in what is surely going to become one of my favourite sausages for a quick S&M fix.

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