The great British banger comes in a delightful range of shapes and forms:
Cumberland sausage is a continuous coil; Lincoln is made in more conventional links but characteristically flavoured with sage, Glamorgan sausage has no meat at all, being a cheese sausage lightened with egg and herbs, and the great sausage of Lorne is large, square and designed to be sliced before cooking.
Of course there was a time, and not so long ago, when all these variations seemed likely to vanish because the characterless factory sausage had gained such acceptance that to ask for anything better sounded pretentious. There seemed to be a perverse national pride in how grim and gristly our sausages had got. The improvement in standards since the late 1980s is thanks to an odd assortment of revivalist sausage-makers which includes not just the butchers and chefs who might naturally be drawn to the task, but members of the chattering classes such as journalists and a world-famous fashion photographer, the late Norman Parkinson, who took an old recipe and developed the very meaty Porkinson banger.
Thanks to such initiatives, sausages ancient and modern, British and foreign and all made with a high meat content plus proper spices and herbs and natural casings are now very easy to buy and – in meat price terms – still quite a bargain. And recent European legislation means that a pork sausage can only be described in this way if it contains at least 65 per cent meat. While many people’s ideal is a sausage like the Cumberland, Lincoln, Gloucestershire or Newmarket made from coarsely minced pork, hard back fat, just enough starchy filler to bind the two together and a spicy flavouring of mace, nutmeg and pepper, this is not a subject to be pedantic about.
There are parts of the country where the only proper sausage is one made of beef and there are people who still like a smooth textured sausage but would rather the smoothness is not 50 per cent rusk. In this country, anything shaped like a sausage and/or made like a sausage with a minced filling and the casing (and on this last point there are honourable exceptions) qualifies as a sausage, so the use of venison or lamb or the odd, wild flavouring continues rather than breaks with tradition.
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