I discovered the Snot Block & Roll by clicking the link at the bottom of the Darths & Droids website. It said ‘food reviews’ and I thought, cool I like food. I then discovered that this was an entire blog dedicated to the review of two foods: vanilla slices and sausage rolls.
I loved this concept, and I vicariously sampled my way through what felt like half the bakeries in Australia. With every post my appreciation for these simple culinary delights grew, and apace grew the unfortunate realization I was probably never going to get the chance to try them in person. See, I live in the US of A, specifically inside the not-so-cosmopolitan state of Wisconsin. While I have seen pasty imitations of the vanilla slice crop up in the bakeries and buffets of the Fox Valley, I have never laid eyes on an honest-to-goodness sausage roll.
Faced with two alternatives, buy a plane ticket to Australia, or find a decent recipe; I opted for door number three and I created my own recipe for the Aussie Style Sausage Roll. (Credit where credit is due, I based my recipe off one I found in Bourke Street Bakery’s cookbook.)
Now for my self-aggrandizing review…
The roll looks amazing; lightly browned from the egg wash and speckled with whole fennel seeds to inform the customer just what kind of sausage roll they will be getting.
The bottom of the roll is edged in a rich brown glaze where the meat drippings oozed out onto the pan during baking. (I am super glad I chose to bake these on the pizza stone.)
The first bite has starts out with a rich salty umami courtesy of the caramelized meat drippings. The pastry is thin and crispy without being dry. Chunks of vegetable are visible throughout the sausage, but their flavor is masked by the pungent bite of the black pepper. (When I make this again, I will definitely decrease the amount of pepper in the recipe) the crunch of toasted fennel seeds reminds me that there are other flavors yet to be discovered.
As soon as the initial bite of the pepper fades on the tongue, the licorice-like sweetness of the fennel takes the lead. It is nicely complimented by the garlic, and while I cannot taste the individual flavors of the vegetables, together they shift the flavor profile away from Italian sausage (my immediate first thought whenever I taste fennel) and toward something unique, and dare I say, Australian. The beef/pork blend is good, giving the sausage a nice body; moist without being greasy.
The sausage roll disappears quickly, and I decide to dig into the remainder of the pan to provide a valid statistical sample for the benefit of posterity. My final conclusion is that with a little less pepper it could easily have been an 8 maybe a 9. Either way, with a little tweaking, I will definitely make this recipe again.
Joel’s Sausage Roll: 7/10
Sausage Rolls Recipe (Makes 12-16 rolls)
- 40 ml extra virgin olive oil
- 40 g garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 30 g cracked fennel seeds
- 1 g dried thyme
- 200-250 g yellow onion, finely chopped
- 200-250 g fresh fennel stalks, finely chopped (If you can’t find fennel stalks, substitute celery)
- 200-250 g carrots, finely chopped
- 10 g white pepper, coarse ground
- 10 g black pepper, coarse ground
- 600 g lean minced ground pork
- 600 g lean minced ground beef
- 50 g dried breadcrumbs
- 20 g kosher salt (divided)
- 6-8 15×30 cm sheets of puff pastry
- 30 ml milk, for wash
- 2 eggs, for wash
- Extra fennel seeds
Chop the vegetables. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic, fennel seed, thyme, onion, fennel stalks, & carrots. Cook for 20-25 minutes until the vegetables are soft. Remove from heat and let cool. Stir in the pepper.
Put the minced pork and beef into a large bowl, add the bread crumbs, half the salt, and the cooled vegetable mix. Use your hands to thoroughly knead all of the ingredients together. (3-5 minutes) Kneading also works the protein in the meat, keeping the sausage from being crumbly when it is baked,
At this point it is a good idea to roll a small ball of the sausage and cook it in a hot frying pan to check its flavor. Add some or all of the remaining salt depending on your taste, some of the saltiness will be balanced out in the baking. (I used all 20 g of salt in my sausage rolls.)
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
In a small bowl beat the egg and milk together with a whisk. On a floured surface roll out the puff pastry into 15×30 cm sheets. Divide the filling into six or eight even portions depending on the number of pastry sheets. On a clean work surface roll each of the filling portions into a 3ish cm cylinder. Place each cylinder lengthways in the center of a pastry rectangle. Brush one long edge of the pastry with egg wash. Wrap the dough firmly around the filling leaving both ends open.
Cut each roll into two halves and place them on a lightly greased pan. Brush the top of each roll with the remaining egg wash, and sprinkle with fennel seeds.
Reduce the oven temperature to 190°C and bake 35-40 minutes, or until the rolls are dark golden brown and the sausage has an internal temperature of 85°C.