Sausages sizzle

THE humble sausage has often been the subject of much ridicule. From pre-school days when frankfurts were proudly displayed next to the fairy bread right through to your first trip to London, when every bloke you bumped into at the pub ask you to put a snagger on the barbie.

Well, the sausage has, during the past few years, begun a comeback of major proportions, as butchers? stores across the country improve the quality of their product. These days the sausage is much more than just a snagger left to shrivel and wither on the grill. Today?s sausage is as nutritional as a prime cut of beef. The sausage has lifted its image from ?buck?s party? tucker to being a gourmet product that every self-created home chef is proud to lovingly and delicately cook when discerning mates drop over for dinner.

These days there are stringent guidelines as to the minimum meat content in a sausage ? 75 per cent. The rest of the sausage mix contains fat and other seasonings.

Just as you will hover lovingly over your prime cut of porterhouse steak as it sizzles away, so too must you care for your snaggers as they sizzle under a medium heat. Turning every now and then and not allowing them to overcook, sausages, especially your gourmet delights, like to remain tender and with moisture. You never prick sausages, they need the fat inside to help keep the meat moist. However, with some of the monster types, you are better off slicing them in half and gently cooking them on a medium heat.

There is an endless number of sausages artfully hanging in butchers? windows, ready for you to discover. Many of the better butchers around town will spend time creating gourmet sausages filled with prime veal and seasonings. I have enjoyed duck sausages, beef and Guinness, red curry lamb, and fiery Cajun sauages. Venison sausages are another favourite of mine, with the Margaret River Venison farm well worth a visit.

Ted Weir from Weirs in Nedlands tells me his most popular snaggers are still the traditional beef and pork sausages, but he has up to 10 types of gourmet sausages available.

Vince at Mondo Butchers in Inglewood is another who makes a great range of traditional Italian sausages, as well as the popular gourmet lines.

Torres and Sons in Bulwer Street have plenty of fantastic traditional and specialty snaggers that are worthy of a place in my ?Snagger Hall of Fame?.

While you can get carried away with the vast gourmet range being created, you can?t forget the traditionally created sausage. Here are a few of the traditional sausages we often forget about in our quest for the prefect snagger.

Chipolata sausages. Coarse textured pork sausages, highly spiced little blighters with bundles of thyme, chives, coriander, and, depending on your butcher, chili flakes.

Lop Chong sausage (chinese snaggers). A little like a pepperoni. Quite dry and hard, usually made from pork meat and a fair whack of fat. Traditionally smoked and slightly sweet with lots of seasoning. Fantastic in stir-fry dishes.

Toulouse sausage. A small traditional French sausage made with coarsely diced pork and flavoured with vino, garlic and secret spices. A welcome addition to Cassoulet.

Frankfurter sausages. This is a smoked, seasoned and precooked much loved member of the sausage family. They range in size from ?cocktail franks? through to foot-long monsters that get wedged into a hotdog bun and drowned in mustard and sauce.

Knackwusrt or Knockwurst. Usually short thick links of precooked beef or pork sausages that are well flavoured with garlic. Best when grilled or boiled. Gets its name from the German ?knack? or English crack the sound it makes as you bite into the snagger.

Blood sausage (black pudding). What a delight. Jam packed full of pigs? blood, suet breadcrumbs and oatmeal. An ideal breakfast sausage.

Chorizo sausage. Widely used in both Spanish and Mexican cooking. This is a highly seasoned pork sausage that is flavoured with garlic, chili powder and more of those secret herbs and spices. The Spanish version uses smoked pork while the Mexicans tend to use plain fresh pork.

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