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Sausage surprise! 10 unexpected ways to cook with bangers and frankfurters | Food


When you Google famous quotes about sausages (say you need an opener for an article), one of the first comes from Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who apparently once said: “Sausages are just funny. I don’t know why. I can’t explain it.”

Waller-Bridge is not wrong. Sausages are inherently funny. But their comedic value is also what holds them back. In the kitchen, no one takes sausages seriously. You very rarely see anyone serving sausages on Come Dine With Me; it would be an act of self-sabotage. You cannot win with sausages. They’re a culinary joke, unrefined, a bit naff.

There was once a contestant, Annie Rose Crone, who bravely challenged this hierarchy. Crone served sausage sandwiches for her starter. She hid a “cheeky sausage” in the middle of her chicken fillet and mozzarella main. She added a layer of sausages in her trifle. “Sausages don’t get enough credit because they’re the only food you can have all throughout the day,” she said. “You can have them for your breakfast, you can have them for your dinner, you can even pop them in a trifle.” I salute Crone.

It seems everyone else is catching up with her. Pig World, the official magazine of the National Pig Association, looked at consumer data amassed by Kantar and found that processed pork products flew off the shelves in March this year. As the lockdown loomed, people filled their grocery baskets with the familiar and reliable: sausage sales rose in volume by 33% (total pigmeat was up 18.4%, while bacon rose by 22%).

With their surprising versatility and comforting reliability, sausages are the perfect meat for our time. And there is so much more to sausages than the sandwiches, fry-ups and casseroles that they are so often confined to in British cuisine. There is more to frankfurters than hotdogs. Many of my suggestions will come as no surprise to those who have mastered the culinary ways of the wurst. But for fledglings, here’s how to get more bang from your bangers.

Pasta





Baked rigatoni with sausage.



Baked rigatoni with sausage. Photograph: Cris Cantón/Getty Images

Sausages make for a fantastic ragu. Meat sauces such as bolognese and napolitana can all be made with bangers. Lots of recipes call for sausage meat – this Italian sausage and chestnut pasta recipe works a treat, while a friend swears by this sausage and thyme ragu. If a pasta sauce recipe calls for mince, you can usually get away with using the meat from sausages: just shed the skins and be sure to break up the meat as you brown it (sausage meat clumps together more than mince). Lasagne is even better when it is made with a mix of beef mince and sweet pork sausage meat. Meanwhile, chunks of sausage are a great way of bulking out pasta dishes more generally (such as Bon Appetit’s rigatoni with sausage, beans and greens).

Meatballs

Sausages also make really good meatballs, already spiced and flavoured. It is one of the oldest tricks in the book: any recipe that requires meatballs can pretty much be done with sausages: just discard the skins, cut them into chunks, then roll them into balls. There are plenty of recipes that lean into this trick. It is worth remembering, though, that not all sausages are made equally – and better-quality sausages will always yield better results.

Frankfurter soup





Soup with frankfurters.



Photograph: Zsolt_/Getty Images/iStockphoto

If putting frankfurters in soup is good enough for Nigella, then it should be good enough for you. And she is certainly on to something with her yellow split pea and frankfurter soup. There is a case to be made that all soups could be zhooshed up with mini frankfurter pieces. Imagine the sheer joy that would spread across a person’s face as they lean in for a spoonful of tomato soup and little pieces of sausage bobble gracefully to the top, just like the eyeballs in the soup served in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

Frankfurter everything

And why stop at soup? Most dishes can be improved with chopped-up frankfurters. Honestly, you really can just hide frankfurter pieces in any dish and it will be better for it. Chilli con carne, mac and cheese, potato salad, actual salad, pizza, pasta – the only limit is your imagination.

Sausage plait





Sausage plait.



Photograph: mtreasure/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Very simply: why would you settle for a dozen normal-sized sausages when you could have one very large sausage, covered in pastry? Whether just a simple sausagemeat and pastry affair, or Paul Hollywood’s more intricate version, which includes mushrooms, black pudding and sherry vinegar, a sausage plait can, unsurprisingly, be made with the meat from sausages (skins discarded). With Greggs still shut you can also – and this may not come as a surprise – very easily make sausage rolls with sausages, too.

Sausage and rice





Jambalaya.



Jambalaya. Photograph: Steven Brisson Photography/Getty Images

Sausage and rice dishes are a staple of Cajun cuisine, with jambalaya and Louisiana dirty rice perhaps the two best known. To be clear, jambalaya should be made with andouille if possible, but it is not always the easiest sausage to source in the UK. If you are struggling, you can substitute other smoky sausages, as per this turkey and sausage jambalaya recipe from the brilliant Homesick Texan food blog (see also their chicken and sausage gumbo recipe). Likewise, while Louisiana dirty rice is traditionally made with ground pork, you can also use the meat from sausages.

Pork’n’beans

Until you’ve made your own version of pork’n’beans – that canned American staple – you are an amateur with sausages. This BBC recipe for southern-style pork and beans works just as well if you subtract the pork fillet and gammon steak and replace with the equivalent weight in sausages, freed from their skins and rolled into meatballs.

Meatloaf





Meatloaf.



Photograph: AlexPro9500/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Another American favourite. Most meatloaf recipes will ask for sausagemeat: a mix of minced pork, breadcrumbs seasoning, herbs and spices, commonly used in stuffing. But you can get away with skinning sausages and using their meat instead (preferably those with a low amount of breadcrumbs). Felicity Cloake has written the perfect meatloaf recipe (which may, admittedly, be less perfect with sausages). See also Nigella’s mini meatloaves.

Baking with frankfurters

If you are looking for a way to one-up the sea of sourdough and banana bread on Instagram, there are tons of inventive things you can bake with frankfurters. These bagel dogs (frankfurters wrapped in filo pastry) from Delish are cheap, easy and, according to my boyfriend last weekend, perhaps the best thing he has ever eaten. You could also try Korean-style “hotdog” AKA corn dog, or crispy dogs with bacon-jalapeno dipping sauce.

Fancy hotdogs





Hot dogs.



Photograph: Claudia Totir/Getty Images

One last surprising thing you can do with your hotdogs is just … make them better. Do not just settle for bun, dog and condiment; be resourceful: coleslaw, bacon, avocado, salsa, relish, salad, mac and cheese, etc. And if you have got leftover, well, anything, it’s going to taste better as a hotdog topping, no matter how elaborate. Think chilli dogs, or more ambitious: curry dogs, sweet and sour pork dogs, mac and cheese dogs. Go big or go home.

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