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The missing link
12:54pm Friday 9th May 2014 in Menu
Finding a meaty homemade sausage is easier said than done in the supermarket, but EMMA DUNN discovers a butcher in Swindon’s Old Town who sausages are the talk of the town
“IT’S NOT as easy as it looks,” butcher Marcus Cole warned before I embarked on my first attempt at making sausages.
Marcus and his colleague, butcher Tom Flynn, who work at TH Burroughs in Wood Street Food Hall, were demonstrating what I now know is something of an art form.
I felt like I was suddenly starring in former television favourite, the Generation Game, as I took to the pedal of the sausage machine in front of the experts.
Tom had patiently showed me what to do, but when it was my turn to take charge I had a new appreciation for the full-English breakfast favourite.
As the pork meat piped out of the machine and into the sausage skin, I struggled to get the thickness right.
The meat looked unappetisingly baggy in the long tube, but Tom reassured me that even he didn’t find it easy at first.
Tom, who has been making sausages for six-and-a-half-years, said: “It’s quite difficult to start off with. It’s hard to get the thickness and the size of the sausages right. You do need a lot of practice.”
And it looks like the butchers certainly know what they’re talking about.
They sell about 1,200 sausages at their counter in Old Town every week.
Flavours vary, but their specialities include pork, cider and apple; pork, smoked bacon and garlic mushroom; beef tomato and basil; and venison, black pudding and apple.
Marcus, who opened Wood Street Food Hall with fishmonger Simon Rhodes nearly a year ago, said the secret to success is getting the right ingredients (and lots of practice making them, of course.) “People come back week after week for them. We make all the sausages in here and we like to experiment with the flavours,” said Marcus, who has been making sausages for 11 years.
“We test them and put them out to customers. Pork, cider and apple is a particular favourite, we sell a lot of them.”
They make sausages three times a week, and the process starts with seven-and-a-half kilos of fresh pork, made from plantation pigs from Surrey, which is combined with 900g of rusk and seasoning.
This is all minced before being piped into natural skins.
If I found that bit hard, little did I know the biggest challenge was yet to come.
Tying the sausages up is like a maths puzzle, with the sausages being twisted and turned through each other to make up a whole string.
Tom looked like a magician as he quickly tied them up, but when it came to my turn things moved in slow motion and I needed lots of instruction.
Marcus, 24, who was previously a chef at The Inn at Fossebridge and the Defence Academy at Shrivenham, said: “Making sausages is not as easy as it looks. It’s hard to keep the consistency and make sure they are going to be the right size.
“It takes six or seven months to learn how to make them, but to perfect it can take years. The more you do, the better you become.
“When I first started I didn’t find it easy, the tying was hard. Once you get your head around it you can do it with your eyes closed.”
Marcus, who gave customers the chance to make their own sausages during a taster session last month, said eating TH Burroughs sausages is a very different experience to supermarket sausages.
“Everyone seems to enjoy them. Some people say they are almost too meaty and need more fat in them,” said Marcus.
“People have got into the habit of having three or four sausages from the supermarket to fill them up, but with our sausages you don’t need that. A lot of people find two are enough because of the meat content in there.”
At the end of the session, the butchers handed over my creations to try at home.
I grilled them that night and served them with chive mash and peas. It was a simple dish, but the pork sausages made it exceptional.
They were so meaty that I found Marcus was right, just two were enough to fill me up.
They were certainly some of the best, if not the best, sausages I had ever eaten (even if I do say so myself) and I cooked up the rest of them that night to eat for lunch the next day.
I’ll be leaving the sausage making to the experts in future, but I will be sure to return to Wood Street Food Hall to try their other flavours too.
Wood Street Food Hall is open from 9am until 5pm on Tuesday, 9am until 6pm on Wednesday and Thursday, 8am until 6pm on Friday, 8am until 5pm on Saturday and 10am until 4pm on Sunday.
For updates on more events at Wood Street Food Hall visit https://www.
facebook.com/ oldtownfishmongers or visit www.wood streetfoodhall.co.uk.
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