When we were growing up, no matter the occasion, birthdays, weddings, picnics, the kids always enjoyed Mum's homemade sausage rolls. It was our parents' default defence to the skirt-pulling, whingey-whiney, fusspot-extraordinaire children they had produced. A smear of tomato sauce and we were away.
Mum's recipe was simple: a healthy line of sausage mince over a square of puff pastry, finely chopped onions, some curly parsley and a little S&P. I must admit to this day I can't resist sneaking a few when Mum pulls them from the oven. But this woman is the high priestess of pastry so I'm bound to be powerless to her little savoury charms. As well as sausage rolls, she made family sized pies, pasties and all manner of sweet treats. It's any wonder I'm considering forming a support group for pastry addicts.
When I joined Matt's family for their celebrations, I was glad to see they employed the same method of feeding their kids at events as my Mum did. The kids get a plate, a bottle of tomato sauce and as many sausage rolls as they like. Kids are quiet, parents are happy. Not much wrong with that equation.
As usual, I wanted to up the fancy stakes on this run of the mill party classic. But how do you improve on perfection? With a little colour, crunch and zing, as well as using some better quality ingredients in place of the old bog standards.
Part of this recipe was devised out of thriftiness. I had sage in the garden that needed trimming, and pistachios were in the cupboard crying out to be used. I'd cracked them open one night when we were craving a little crunchy treat with our wind-down beers. These were both creamy and crunchy: apparently the ideal variety for gelato, or so the supplier at Fairfield market tells me.
The pork was picked up at Skinner and Hackett, a free range Berkshire that's pretty good eating. And the pastry was another batch of leaf lard shortcrust from my last run at sausage rolls. Our little sampler was pretty spectacular: sweet pork, crispy pastry, crunchy nuts and a little zing from the little bit of sage. No wrong turns to be found here.
So these little babies will be served up for our engagement party next weekend. A fancy relish will replace Rosella's finest. This is how I keep my fiance happy these days: retro favourites gussied up all fancy-like. Kinda like The Fonz in a Zegna suit. Kinda.
510g plain flour
pinch of salt
280g leaf fat
1/4 cup cold water
700g minced pork
200g shelled pistachios
Around 50 sage leaves
1 egg, lightly beaten
Salt and pepper
To make pastry, place flour, salt and ground leaf fat in the bowl of a food processor. Blend until combined. With the motor running, slowly pour in enough cold water until the pastry just comes together - you may not need it all. Remove from the bowl and press to form one solid mass. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 200C. Spray an oven tray with oil.
Season the pork mince and mix to distribute evenly. Roll out the pastry to around 3mm thick. Leaving a gap of around 10cm, spread thin rows of mince onto the pastry. Press the pistachios into the rows and squeeze the mince around the nuts to cover. Top each row with sage leaves.
Brush the pastry in between each row of mince with the egg wash. Roll up the pastry to cover the mince. Cut into 3cm pieces and brush the tips with egg wash. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden.