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31 October 2011

Get to know your regional sausage

Photo: © childsdesign

A good sausage should be made with at least 70% high quality meat, usually beef or pork or a mixture of both. The remaining content is seasoning and breadcrumbs.

Across the UK there are many regional varieties of sausages and here are a few of the most easily found.

Cumberland Sausage
This is considered to be the meatiest British sausage. It is a chunky, coarse cut sausage spiced with black pepper and made in a continuous spiral. It is traditionally sold by length rather than weight. Looks very impressive when coiled in a spiral and cooked whole.

Gloucester Sausage
Traditionally made with Gloucester Old Spot (a rare breed) and flavoured with sage. Increasingly available from local specialists.

Lincolnshire Sausage
Old fashioned herby regional sausage traditionally made with pork, bread and sage (although thyme seems to be creeping in).

Bit of an oddity, this is Scottish square slicing sausage. It is made with beef and pork, has a smooth texture and is probably destined for either the breakfast table or eaten in a sandwich with white sliced bread and brown sauce.

Manchester Sausage
A pork sausage, flavoured with white pepper, mace, nutmeg, ginger, sage and cloves.

Marylebone Sausage
A traditional London butchers sausage made with mace, ginger and sage.

Oxford Sausage
A regional sausage made with pork, veal and lemon. Herbs are usually sage, savory and marjoram

Pork and Apple (West Country)
Pork with apple and often cider or scrumpy, generally makes a moist sausage. Sage is often used, they are available nationally but very popular in the West Country. Traditionally made with Gloucester Old Spot which where reared in orchards and would have eaten the windfall apples.

Suffolk Sausage
A course chopped sausage with herbs, similar to Lincolnshire

Tomato Sausage
Pork and tomato, typical 10% tomato gives a distinctive red colour, they are popular in the Midlands. Can be combined with basil and sun dried tomatoes for the ‘Mediterranean’ taste

Yorkshire Sausage
White pepper, mace, nutmeg and cayenne are the predominant flavours in the Yorkshire sausage.

28 October 2011

Get Your Bangers Out! It's British Sausage Week – 31st October – 6th November 2011

Slade frontman, Noddy Holder has been let out of his box slightly prematurely this year, and instead of shouting out a gravelly "It's Chriiiiiiiiistmaaaaaas!" he's proudly vociferating the brilliance of British bangers as ambassador and King of the Sizzle for LovePork's British Sausage Week.

Running from 31st October – 6th November 2011, this week is dedicated to all things sausage. Sausage, that's a word that has us Brits collapsing into a fit of giggles – nothing like a spot of innuendo to get the festivities going.

On a more serious note, British Sausage Week's aim is to make us all aware of how British pork is the best and encourages us to support our own farmers and producers by buying quality sausages.

There are many regional sausages throughout the British Isles that use traditional recipes that go back many generations.
There's the long coiled Cumberland sausage which is meaty with a coarse, chunky texture and black pepper giving a spicy bite; The Lincolnshire sausage, an old fashioned favourite scented with sage; West Country ones with pork and apple and maybe a touch of cider and Oxford sausages that contain veal, as well as pork. These are just a few of the many varieties made and the list continues to grow as producers experiment with different flavour combinations.

We can't resist a nicely cooked sausage. They should be cooked carefully over a medium heat so they cook slowly allowing the outside to gently caramelise so it becomes slightly sticky and the inside should be juicy. Don't have the heat too high or the sausage will burst and definitely do not prick them, this will make all the tasty juices escape.

The Artisan Food Trail is lucky enough to have a good number of food producers that make the finest sausages using meat from animals that have a led a healthy and happy life, so when you buy sausages make sure you choose British, local and bangers made with passion.

Over the coming week look out for more information about our sausage making friends, recipes, mouth-watering pictures and much more.

27 October 2011

Smoked Paprika Stew with Caraway Dumplings

Photo: © childsdesign

Autumn is here, the nights are drawing in bringing a chill air that just has you wanting something warming and soul restoring.
Now is not the time for salads and most people’s thoughts turn to wholesome steaming bowls of comfort food in the form of stews, casseroles, creamy mash, and rib-sticking creations to carry them through the winter months.

You really can’t beat a rich stew with some dumplings to satisfy the need for a big foodie hug. This recipe is very much like a goulash with its rich velvety sauce more vivid than the reddest autumn maple leaf.

We used smoked paprika from The Artisan Smokehouse, which is sweet and earthy with a great depth of flavour, everything you’d expect from a really good paprika, but with a little extra excitement for the taste buds – a smokey background.

You don’t have to use chicken in this recipe, it is quite versatile and adaptable. For a vegetarian option just add your favourite vegetables and/or beans and cook until tender.
Other types of meat could be used, such as beef, lamb or even venison, but you will need to cook longer and slower, before adding the dumplings, to achieve a more tender texture.

View recipe

Photo: © childsdesign

24 October 2011

Shetland Seaweed Lamb

Photo: © childsdesign

Widely considered to be ’The Jewel in the Crown’ of Shetland Lamb, Shetland Seaweed Lamb is really quite special.
We were lucky to be sent a sample from Briggs’ Shetland Lamb and were satisfied enough to give it our Artisan Food Trail Approved status.

Read full review

To find out more about Briggs' Shetland Lamb visit their page on 
The Artisan Food Trail here

23 October 2011

Damson Chicken Skewers

Photo: © childsdesign

Thanks to Naomi at Agnes Rose we've been experimenting with some of her fruit vinegars. They are great drizzled over salads, meat and vegetables and this recipe adapted from one on the Agnes Rose website transformed some chicken into a tasty and succulent meal.

The recipe usually calls for straight Damson Vinegar, but we used one of Naomi's latest creations. It is still damson based but is infused into cider vinegar with the addition of local Cumbrian honey, which we thought would work really well with the chicken.

The vinegar is most suitable for marinading as it is not too acidic and as well as adding a delightful fruity background flavour it helps the meat retain its moisture. The sugars from the fruit and honey helps the chicken caramelise beatifully, adding extra flavour.


  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 3 tablespoons of Cumbrian Damson Cider Vinegar with Local Honey
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper

Cut the chicken breasts into strips and place in a bowl. Strip the leaves from the thyme sprigs and add to the chicken and add the Cumbrian Damson Cider Vinegar with Local Honey. Season with salt and pepper.
Cover and place in the fridge to marinate for 2-24 hours – the longer, the better
Place the strips of chicken on 8 skewers and grill or BBQ until cooked in the centre and golden brown, turning once, approx 15-20 minutes.
Drizzle with Cumbrian Damson Cider Vinegar with Local Honey and serve.

Photo: © childsdesign

6 October 2011

Spicy Cheese Logs

Photo: © childsdesign
Want to try something simple yet very tasty? Then this quick idea will have your taste buds tingling in a few minutes.
There have been some experiments going on in The Artisan Food Trail Kitchen using a new range of smoked seasonings from The Artisan Smokehouse. The Smoked Black Peppercorns and Smoked Chilli Flakes have already been put to good use to make coatings for some soft goats cheese.

They are very easy to make but produce exciting results. You will need two soft goats cheese logs weighing 125g each.
For the first log, measure out a tablespoon of Smoked Black Peppercorns and crush using a pestle and mortar (see picture to see how the texture should be). Tip the crushed peppercorns on to a plate and roll the goats cheese in them until completely coated, pressing them on – they will stick easily enough.

For the second log measure out two teaspoons of chilli flakes on to a plate and grate over the zest of one lemon and make sure they are evenly mixed. Take the second goats cheese and again, roll in the mixture until well coated.


There are two other smoked seasonings available; Smoked Paprika and Smoked Coarse Sea Salt so look out for more ideas coming from the AFT Kitchen soon.

PS: The Smoked Sea Salt is rather good on vanilla ice cream – sounds wrong, but tastes so right!

5 October 2011

Luscious Pork Belly

Photo: © childsdesign

There’s something irresistible about slow cooked pork. It is meltingly tender and the flavour is rich and moreish. This recipe uses pork belly strips which do appear to have a lot of fat on them, but don’t let that put you off – anyway, that’s where all the gorgeous flavour comes from. The cooking process allows most of the fat to render out which can then be discarded.

However to cut through the fattiness, a spicy and zesty relish from
Edible Ornamentals is used which really cuts through any oiliness. Luscious Citrus Relish is just as its name describes and lends itself well to this oriental inspired recipe.

Although it takes time to cook, the oven does most of the work over that time – it even creates the sauce – leaving you to get on with other things as the house fills with delicious aromas.
To improve the texture of the pork, it is given a final sizzling in a pan.

View recipe

4 October 2011

Smoked Duck Salad

Photo: © childsdesign

With the recent spell of unseasonably hot autumn weather, we have been feeling the need for salad. On our recent visit to the Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival we picked up some hot smoked duck breast from
The Artisan Smokehouse. It is made from local (Suffolk) free range duck which is then cured in juniper, sugar and salt before being hot smoked over maple wood. The flavour is subtle and the thinly sliced meat is very tender.

Our salad was very simple, just some soft lettuce leaves, watercress, cooked beetroot (don't use the pickled stuff) and rustic croutons. This was all simply dressed with a drizzle of cold pressed rapeseed oil and a liberal dousing of damson vinegar from Agnes Rose. A few snipped chives and a grind of black pepper completed the dish.

To make the rustic croutons, take a French baguette and cut a few thin slices. Brush both sides of the bread with a little cold pressed rapeseed oil, place on a baking sheet and sprinkle lightly with sea salt flakes. Put into a hot oven until they turn crisp. Watch that they do not burn. When ready allow to cool before breaking into rough pieces for your salad.

Autumn was definitely the inspiration for our salad and using the damson vinegar seemed very appropriate and seasonal. It is also the perfect partner to duck.
The beautiful rose-coloured juice is hand made in the Lake District using locally grown fruit which is then steeped in red wine vinegar to give a gorgeous sweet and sour tang with a plummy fragrance.

2 October 2011

Safe and Sound: The RedCat Partnership

Any one working in the food industry, no matter how small, has to meet certain standards of hygiene and food handling in order to sell to the public. So to round off our celebration of British Food Fortnight we thought it right to acknowledge the people who make it their business to support artisan food producers, by making sure they have the necessary training and certification.

The RedCat Partnership is Sarah Daniels and Richard Mills who each have over 20 years experience in these fields of work. Their route into The RedCat Partnership is through the world of environmental health; both are Chartered Environmental Health Practitioners. This enforcement experience gives them a wide understanding of the variety and diversity of business sectors, business needs, organisational cultures, etc.

They hold their business values very highly, but most importantly focus on what the customer wants. Health and safety is about protecting people, not generating paperwork.

It’s vitally important that food businesses comply with Food Safety law and although it can cost businesses in money, time and effort, but working safely provides them with tangible business benefits. Quickly realised are the decreased risk of Food Poisoning, decreased damage loss to their reputations through complaints, a compliant premises, less hassle with the council EHO's and hopefully a Five Star Rating and therefore confidence with customers. The benefits go further than this.

Engaging employees in the Food safety process earns increased buy-in, leading to increased motivation and therefore productivity. A cornerstone of motivation is to demonstrate that they are actually concerned for Food Safety, and ensuring that their staff have a safe place to work and their customers, safe food.

The RedCat Partnership are highly skilled and experienced Food (and health and safety) consultants – they are all from an Environmental Health background.
They are effective not only in developing food safety strategies and ensuring compliance (policies, HACCP etc.) but also in implementation. They can also liaise with Enforcement Officers.

Food Safety Training is delivered by enthusiastic, experienced and professional trainers with lots of interaction and activity.
They are passionate about food and about food safety – giving businesses pragmatic and sensible advice.

Vist The RedCat Partnership on The Artisan Food Trail here

1 October 2011

Original and the Best: Briggs' Shetland Lamb

Richard Briggs is a Shetland Sheep breeder on Shetland and sells whole Shetland lamb PDO. This lamb with subtly different characteristics is available freshly butchered, chilled and packed suitable for home freezing. 18-month old hogget and mutton are also available in the same form.

All the lambs come from pure bred Shetland flocks raised on the isles. They are processed and packed for Richard by the local cooperative, Shetland Livestock Marketing Group.

Delivery direct to you door is available throughout Britain via Royal Mail’s Next Day Special Delivery Service. Briggs’ Shetland Lamb can also, by prior arrangement, deliver the boxes of meat personally in Shetland (Mainland) and to addresses in Eastern Scotland (near to the Aberdeen to Edinburgh Road connection).

Richard believes that the best flavour of Shetland lamb comes from animals that graze the natural Shetland plants and grasses. Consequently, Briggs’ Shetland Lamb is mainly available between September and December.

The Shetland breed of sheep is only half the size of many of the UK’s other breeds. With Shetland Lamb the butcher starts with just 8kg - 14kg compared to the 17kg - 22kg size that is normal for most of the breeds of lamb sold in the UK. Celebrity chefs and food writers have described Shetland lamb as very tender and sweet.

Because the croft at South Nesting, Shetland is mainly rough pasture, Richard produces what Shetlanders would call "park fed lamb".

Shetland Hill Lamb comes from the flock that live more extensively on the open hill at East Kame. (some Hill Lamb I source from neighbours)

Shetland Seaweed Lamb is the most celebrated version of Shetland lamb. The name has been formally adopted by Shetland Livestock Marketing Group to describe lamb from flocks that normally have access to sea shore and are hefted to graze amongst the ebb. These can supplied each autumn.

Healthier Meat
Richard tries to finish his Shetland lambs without the use of corn based feeds. This helps to ensure that the meat has a good balance of the essential fatty acids Omega-3 and Omega-6. Research has shown that meat from grazing animals contains Omega-3 and Omega-6 in a ratio of 1:2, which matches the proportion required in human nutrition. However, meat raised on corn based diets was found to have similar combined levels of Omega-3 and Omega-6 but in the ratio of 1:6.

In other research, Shetland Lamb was found to have significantly higher levels of a derivative of Omega-6, Conjugated Linoleic Acid when compared to levels normally found in lamb. Conjugated Linoleic Acid has been found to be an agent that prevents the onset of cancer.

What is PDO?
Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) – The distinctive red and yellow PDO symbol has been awarded to Shetland Lamb produced and slaughtered in Shetland in recognition of the subtly different characteristics of the meat. Other British products so honoured are Cornish Clotted Cream and Stilton Blue Cheese. Look out for the logo on the front of packaging. The EU Geographical Indicator symbol assures customers of the genuineness of the product’s origin.

Visit Briggs' Shetland Lamb on The Artisan Food Trail here