No, not unhygienic, just unhealthy. Actually, long-time readers of this blog might get the impression it's not so much 'once in a while' as it is 'more often than not'. Ahem. Time for an anecdote!
Some years ago, I worked in Kensington. The office complex had an on-site bar/restaurant which was OK, but nothing special and, outside the complex, we weren't exactly spoilt for choice in eateries. There was a good Indian buffet in one direction, as well as a decent greasy spoon, a good Chinese and a nice Greek place in another direction. Slightly further afield, there was a decent Thai place, but that sometimes chose not to open. Even further away along that same road was a small fish and chip shop which seemed to do mainly takeaway business, though it had a poky little seating area up some stairs in the back.
Now, being from the suburbs of London, fish and chips is pretty much a staple food for me, so I'm always up for investigating a new chippie... and this one was one of those places that battered more than just fish. In particular, it battered sausages.
What could be more perfect, right?
The used the usual greasy spoon, all-day-breakfast kind of sausage, only slightly larger and glided with a fairly unremarkable batter, but the sum of the parts proved to be remarkably addictive, and I ended up defaulting to that if I couldn't decide on a (new) fish to order.
Now, one of the significant downsides to where I live is that there isn't a local chippie anywhere nearby. Certainly there's at least one within walking distance, but the one I know is takeaway only and, if judging 'walking distance' as 'close enough that the food is still hot/warm by the time I get home', it's actually not within walking distance. Plus, even if it was, since it's connected to a proper fishmonger, it seems unlikely (though not impossible) that they would do battered sausages, so I've been hankering after them for a good two years now.
But, lo, my local Iceland recently (it would seem) added frozen battered sausages to their list of chilled meat products and, suffering from withdrawal as I am, I picked up a bag to give them a try. Naturally, since these are sausages covered in batter, I can't exactly serve them up with mashed potato (well, I could, but it wouldn't be right), so this is only loosely part of the S&M Rodeo series.
The first thing to point out is that these sausages are comparatively small. They're fairly fat, but not very long... maybe a little more than 3/4 the length of the Waitrose gourmet sausages I pick up once in a while. This isn't ideal, obviously, and for £1.50 for a bag of eight, they're not such great value when compared to Iceland's other sausages, which are £1 for ten (pork, pork & beef, etc), or for twenty of their 'Thin Sausages'. Still, if you're after cheap and cheerful, these certainly still fit the bill.
As with any frozen battered food, the obvious drawback is that, since the oil needed to 'fry' them is contained within the frozen, partially-cooked batter, what you end up with is never going to be as crisp as the freshly fried version would be, nor does the batter cook as evenly. Couple this with the fact that there's a fair bit of fat within the sausages and the end result, whether baked or grilled, tends to be soft, bordering on soggy. In fact, when cutting through these sausages, one can pretty much guarantee that the batter will simply fall off.
Nevertheless, the combination of batter and very basic sausage remains pleasant and, while it's some way off the authentic chip shop experience, it has satisfied my cravings for the time being. I can see myself keeping a stock of these for those moments when I need some serious comfort food.
Awwww, yeah... all it needed was a generous dollop of brown sauce, and it was good to go...