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Friday, 3 February 2012

S&M Rodeo #4: Waitrose Richly Flavoured Toulouse Sausages with Smoked Bacon, Red Wine and Garlic

I suspect that, every so often, my S&M Rodeo subheading will introduce me to a new sausage experience that is both unexpected and instantly enjoyable.

And that's always going to sound like a massive double entendre, so let's just run with it.

This entry from Waitrose is just one such experience. I've never before tried Toulouse sausages and - just for a change - Waitrose seems to have nailed the recipe, and kept to the simple origins - little has been added beyond that which is listed in the name, and most of that is the now-ubiquitous preservatives and antioxidants.

Straight from the pack, the smell is quite distinctive - the pork content is immediately obvious, but so is the bacon and the garlic. Cooking provides an interesting contrast, because the predominant flavours - other than the pork - are the bacon and the red wine. This was quite a pleasant surprise, as I had feared that the bacon would play second fiddle to the pork but, despite a much lower proportional content (11%, compared to 77% pork!) the rich, smokey flavour of the bacon holds its own. The strength of the wine flavour is rather surprising considering it seems to be without any additional flavouring or flavour enhancers. It's subtle, but it's definitely there - a distinct, warm, musty red wine undertone - which struck me particularly because I can't drink red wine without developing a migraine, so it's nice to know that it's safe enough as a food additive.

These proved slightly trickier to grill successfully - my usual timings had to be extended quite a bit - and I ended up playing it safe to avoid the possibility of burning them. Then, when I first cut into the sausage, I was initially shocked to see so much pink in the middle. It took me a few moments to realise that they were not, in fact, undercooked, I was looking at fairly large chunks of bacon which, coincidentally, appeared roughly central in that particular cross-section of sausage.

One point confuses me: the packaging claims at one point that these sausages are "made with 86% pork from prime cuts", while the ingredients - as previously mentioned - give a pork content of 77%. I can only guess that 86% of that 77% pork is 'from prime cuts' and the remaining 14% is not 'from prime cuts'. Seems like a strange way of detailing it, but what do I know? I just eat the things...

I'm also more than a little nonplussed by the pack's assertion that the pork used is "Prime British pork from pigs born outdoors and reared in airy, straw-bedded barns". I mean, I know folks these days like their 'ethical farming practices', and are keen to ensure that animal have comfortable, 'happy' lives before they are slaughtered for our consumption but, really, what's next? Biographies?
"Percy was born on a lovely, sunny July day with a fresh, sou'wester bringing the scents of daisies, heather and wild strawberries over the farm. He loved to run and frolic in his pen, muddying himself up and generally behaving like a porky rascal. Farmer Bloggs had to work extra hard to scrub the mud and swill from Percy's plump body before he was led away, killed with a bolt to the brain, and then carved up with care and precision."
See? It just doesn't work, does it?

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