Before we really get stuck in, it might help to have a brief look at the language around sausages in Britain, and how they’ve been used in certain recipes. For example, the term bangers—when used to describe sausages and not albums by Miley Cyrus—came from the habit certain cheaper sausages had of exploding in the frying pan. So the fabled bangers and mash is simply some sausages and mashed potato, served with onion gravy.
Replace the potato with a baked batter mix that you pour over the sausages and you’ve got toad in the hole. Take the gravy and batter away, roll some sausage meat up in pastry and bake, and you’ve the great British sausage roll. Use that same sausage meat to encase a boiled egg like a ball, dip it in breadcrumbs and then fry it, and that’s a Scotch egg. These are the basics.
Oh and if anyone refers to snorkers in your presence, they’re a) probably quite old and b) using a term that derives from a naval nickname for Palethorpe’s pre-cooked tinned sausages.
Got all that? Right, let’s do this. Click on the name of the sausage to see a recipe:
The coiled spring of a long Cumberland sausage has outlasted the name of the county in which it was originally made. That area of north England is now part of Cumbria, but you don’t see anyone trying to market a Cumbrian sausage instead. The meat in the sausage is chopped pork (as opposed to minced pork), which is then flavored with either black or white pepper, but very little else.
While other British pork sausages rely on pepper to achieve their distinctive flavors, the Lincolnshire is notable for being heavily seasoned with sage. Do not trust anyone selling a Lincolnshire that has been seasoned with parsley or thyme: No matter how delicious they may be, they’re not proper. And in common with the Cumberland, the meat is coarsely chopped up rather than minced.
If you were looking for the sausage that most other (lesser) British bangers are modeled upon, that would probably be the Newmarket, as it’s a moderately spicy pork affair with minced meat. The appearance of imitation Newmarket sausages has caused some tension, with the result that the name can only be used to describe those sausages that were made in the town of Newmarket, and there are only three companies making them there: Musk’s, Powters and Eric Tennant Butchers.
Most of the best known British sausage brands are made from pork, but the Oxford mixes in some veal too, and a greater level of seasoning, resulting in a hotter kind of banger entirely.
Hog’s pudding is a big fat sausage made of pork, fat, bread and oatmeal—similar to a white pudding—although hog’s pudding is far spicier, as it is seasoned with black pepper, cumin, basil and garlic. There are versions of the recipe which contain less meat and more offal, making hog’s pudding a close relative to haggis.
Essentially quite a similar sausage to the frankfurter, and cooked by boiling rather than frying or grilling, the saveloy is a staple of fish ‘n’ chip shops, most commonly appearing in both battered and unbattered form. In the North East of England, saveloys are also served in a sandwich with pease pudding. Citizens of Maine will have experienced a very similar sausage in the form of their red hot or red snapper dish.
Just in case you vegetarians are feeling a little left out, the Glamorgan is a traditional Welsh sausage, made of cheese (originally Glamorgan cheese, which has since been replaced with Caerphilly), leeks and breadcrumbs.
This isn’t really a sausage in the sense of being a finger-shaped tube of hot meat. The lorne—also known as a slicey, for reasons that will become clear—is more like a meatloaf, being a long square sausage that is cut into slices and served in traditional Scottish (and Canadian) breakfasts. Also, lorne sausage tessellates brilliantly with toast.
In a fruit pudding (which tends to be shop-bought, rather than homemade), wheat flour, beef suet (or rusk), brown sugar, currants and/or sultanas, salt and cinnamon are squished into the shape of a big fat sausage like liverwurst, then it’s cut into fat slices, which are fried. It can be part of a traditional Scottish fried breakfast or even served as a dessert.
Stornoway black pudding
The Stornoway is considered to be among the finest of the black puddings, and the black pudding—a sausage made from pork blood and oatmeal—is another fat sausage that is cut into slices and fried or grilled. You can find black pudding on sale in many chip shops, particularly in the north of England and Scotland, although the Stornoway is the only one that has been granted Protected Geographical Indicator of Origin status.
Full disclosure: I once ate a Scotch egg where the sausage meat was replaced with black pudding and the egg was soft-boiled. It was extraordinarily good.
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