Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Sausages -- an update

I reported on my trial of Heston Blumenthal's technique, recommended in his television programme, for cooking sausages. You poach them at 65 C for 20 to 30 minutes (TV programme and Sunday Times version varied), then fry them. It seemed to work well. But I neglected to validate the trial with control sausages.

So I put two sausages to fry in my normal way: heavy pan, heat disperser, a little oil, very low flame. Turning them every so often, I gave them about 40 minutes to cook. Meanwhile, I heated a pan of water until bubbles started to appear, turned down the flame, put another heat disperser under the pan, and dropped in two more sausages. After the compromise time of 25 minutes, I removed them, placed them on paper towels to dry, and fried them -- starting them on a medium flame, turning them frequently, and, in an effort to prevent splitting, lowering the flame as they started to brown. They were ready in about eight minutes.

There was little to separate the two versions. The only significant difference was to the debit of the Blumenthal technique: the poached sausages had somewhat rubbery skins. You, or Blumenthal, might suggest that my poaching water was hotter than 65 C; and I could not gainsay that charge. But, as I do not have the equipment to maintain a simmering liquid at a precise temperature, I shall revert to my previous, slow-frying method.

That reduces the number of useful techniques I have gleaned from In Search of Perfection to nil. I'm enjoying it, though.


cairo said...

I find the best way to cook a nice sausage is to do it the River Cafe way. Very similar to Blumenthal but you put poach and fry in the same pan.

1) crowd sausage into pan
2) add 6 peppercorns, two bay leaves, twig of rosemary, dryied chili
3) top up with water til it just covers the sausages
3) bring to a simmer and let water reduce over a period of 40 mins or so
4) by this time (ideally) water has evaporated and fat rendered from sausages will brown the skin
5) usually works?

Cairobill, London

Nicholas Clee said...

I remember reading about this technique somewhere. Do they recommend that you use it with lugano sausages, or similarly thin ones? Butcher's sausages might require a litre or two of water before they are covered; it would take ages to evaporate.