Veal and pork sausages

It never ceases to amaze me how much people love sausages. Why? Perhaps it is to do with the shape, or childhood memories; or the possibilities of the extreme flavour of a great sausage; or even how well a sausage melds with a classic tomato sauce.

My father used to look forward to his annual holidays in Daylesford as much for the ‘Italian’, garlic-laced sausages as the relaxation. People still make expeditions across town to buy sausages from particular makers, but the art of fine sausage making seems to be drifting away. Although a few excellent makers are clawing their way into the market, you wouldn’t touch most commercial thick and thins with a barge pole, and butchers generally look on their sausages as profit makers. All leftovers are tossed into a machine and chopped almost to dust, before being squeezed into skins. The best palate in the world would be unable to identify the components. One thing you can bet on — the fine grinding will ensure they taste dry, without any of the personality of their components.

I have tried dozens of ways with sausages over several years, but in the end two ’secret’ ingredients were needed to make them, to my taste, as near to perfect as you could imagine. One was the fat from some delicious ‘home-smoked’ bacon. The other was more basic — we gave the easy machine away and chopped the meat more coarsely, forcing the farce into the skins by hand. Of course we used a stack of garlic! And don’t forget one thing about snags: they need a lot of fat — it’s almost better not to know how much really — to ensure they are moist within. There’s a bit of work in making these little boys, but the results are well worth the effort.

Work our the amount you wish to make, then get together a mix of one-third good quality veal (shoulder or leg), one-third of pork (shoulder or leg) and a 50:50 mix of pork fat (from the back) and the best flavoured bacon fat you can find. These meats will make up two-thirds of the total mix.

250g veal from the shoulder or leg, sinews removed, chopped finely

250g pork from the shoulder or leg

125g pork fat from the back

125g bacon fat

dried apricots, currants, sultanas

2 walnut-sized pieces of ginger, chopped roughly

4 cloves garlic, chopped roughly

2 onions, chopped roughly

parsley, tarragon, rosemary (any or all)

2 chillies

salt and black pepper (plenty of each)

garam masalaThis delicious Indian spice mix should be made regularly, as it loses its punch about as quickly as coffee beans. If you buy it, make sure it comes from a friendly Indian spice seller.

2 eggs

2 cups breadcrumbs

4 dessertspoons Dijon mustard

sausage skins

Any decent butcher will sell you plenty of real pork intestines as casings for a song. Make sure you get the ‘thick’ ones. Better still, take your mix to the butcher and ask him to force the mince into skins. Ask him to use the most coarse blade on his blender.


Dijon mustard


almonds, chopped finely (whatever nuts you have will do)

red peppers, chopped

parsley, chopped



Chop all the meats with the heaviest knife in your kitchen. If you have a mincer then put the lot through the medium grind. If not, just keep chopping. It’s not as tough as it sounds, but you do need a rather heavy, very sharp knife.


When you get the meats to a manageable consistency, add the other ingredients. Keep chopping and then work it all together with your hands. Check the seasoning by rolling off a little ball and baking it in the oven. Adjust seasoning if necessary. If you stop now, you have achieved a wonderful hamburger mix, or stuffing for pork or veal or chicken. If you’re lazy, start cooking, if not, read on…


Use a strong piping bag to force the mix into the skins. It really is a much better use of your time if you get your butcher to do this for you. Get him to tie the sausages in lengths of about a metre. Allow them to rest in their skins at least overnight.


Poach the sausages in simmering water until they just hold their own — they should be rare in the middle. Allow to cool and chop into usual sausage sizes — they will, of course, have ’square’ ends.


Remember all that work you put in to force the mixture into the skins. Well, now we undo all that labour by taking them out of the skins! Just slice the skin down the ‘back’ of the snag. You don’t have to remove the skins, but I’m no fan of sausage skin, whether it comes from natural intestine or is artificial. It is no more than a casing. You can do much better than that. This method gives you a much more flavoursome sausage, some of it coming from the roasting process, some from the ‘topping’ on the sausage. The ‘topping’ is really a stuffing on the outside.


Rub the cooked, skinned sausages with the mustard and sprinkle them with the breadcrumbs, almonds, parsley, red peppers and some nuts of butter, and roast in a flat-out oven for about 10 minutes — just to cook the sausages through. They should still be just cooked.


Obviously the naked sausages will be rather delicate, but it doesn’t matter too much if they break up a little. The mustard, breadcrumbs etc., on top give you another ‘fresh’ flavour.


Ideally, you should serve the sausage with a simple warm salad of potato, bacon and beans, tossed in a light olive oil vinaigrette. Be naughty and stack your salad with garlic too! You’re also allowed to serve them with your own tomato sauce, and stuff them into your own bread. The sausages can be frozen, but before the skins have been removed — it makes for easier storage.

WINE: I have to have red wine with garlic — so what makes a good snag wine? You need something with a touch of inky density. Reds from Clare have it, some from Margaret River and plenty from north-east Victoria.