Makes about 24
Etty is my mum and for me a Christmas without her sausage rolls would not be complete. They are the ultimate canapé to serve with drinks, or with pickled shallots and crisp celery for a snack any time. They can be cooked well in advance, frozen then defrosted and warmed through when you need them, but nothing can compare with freshly baked on Christmas Eve.
For the quick flaky pastry
175g butter or block margarine
225g plain flour
a pinch of salt
cold water to mix
(alternatively you can use 400g of ready-made all-butter puff pastry, which is almost as good)
For the filling
450g good-quality pork sausagemeat
1 medium onion, grated
4 tablespoons chopped sage leaves
1 egg, beaten, to glaze
2 baking sheets, lightly greased.
Preheat the oven to 220°C/gas mark 7.
The fat needs to be rock-hard from the fridge, so weigh out the required amount, wrap it in a piece of foil and place it in the freezing compartment for 30–45 minutes. Meanwhile sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl. When you take the fat out of the freezer, open it up and use some of the foil to hold the end with. Then dip the fat in the flour and grate it on a coarse grater placed in the bowl over the flour. Keep dipping the fat down into the flour to make it easier to grate.
At the end you will be left with a pile of grated fat in the middle of the flour, so take a palette knife and start to distribute it into the flour (don’t use your hands), trying to coat all the pieces of fat with flour until the mixture is crumbly. Next add enough water to form a dough that leaves the bowl clean, using your hands to bring it all gently together. Put the dough into a polythene bag and chill it for 30 minutes in the fridge.
When you’re ready to make the sausage rolls, mix the sausagemeat, onion and sage together in a mixing bowl. Then roll out the pastry on a floured surface to form an oblong approximately 42 x 30cm. Cut this oblong into three strips 42 x 10cm and divide the sausagemeat also into three, making three long rolls the same length as the strips of pastry (if it’s sticky sprinkle on some flour and flour your hands).
Place one roll of sausagemeat on to one strip of pastry. Brush the beaten egg along one edge, then fold the pastry over and seal it as carefully as possible. Lift the whole thing up and turn it so the sealed edge is underneath. Press lightly, and cut into individual rolls each about 5cm long. Snip three V shapes in the top of each roll with the end of some scissors and brush with beaten egg. Repeat all this with the other portions of meat and pastry.
Place the rolls on baking sheets and bake high in the oven for 20–25 minutes, then remove them to a wire rack to cool. You can store the cooked and cooled sausage rolls in an airtight tin, but they do lose their crunchiness. For this reason I think it is preferable to freeze them in polythene boxes and remove a few at a time as and when you need them. Defrost them for an hour at room temperature and then warm them in a hot oven for 5 minutes.