Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Lincolnshire Sausage Season #7 of 13 - Sainsburys Lincolnshire Pork Sausage



It's part seven of our Lincolnshire sausage season and our first trip down the polished aisles of the supermarket. Sainsburys supermarket to be precise, last week voted seventh out of nine in a UK consumer satisfaction survey by Which? Magazine. I have to say that I don't think I've ever had a really bad experience with Sainsburys so I am judging from a neutral and objective platform....but it would take a really good supermarket banger to match up to even a run-of-the-mill butcher's version. We shall see....


There was recently an enlightening piece in the Daily Mail online featuring Sainsburys and their sausages, you could do worse than to spend a few minutes reading the whole article here: Shrinkflation  


I have also trailed this review a couple of times on Twitter and the Sainsburys social media team have been very efficient, going as far as to offer me my money back for dissatisfaction. Thanks for your efforts Allie and Steven but a refund won't be needed – just maybe an apology to mankind for inflicting these sausages on humanity.


Where To Find Them:
Very much like rats, you're never far away from a Sainsburys store. As of March 2016 there were 601 supermarket-size stores and 773 convenience stores in the UK, and I'll be blowed if I'm listing them all here.

Opening Hours:
Usually open all the hours in the day, every day, but do check with your local impersonal megastore before travelling. I visited the Sleaford, Lincolnshire store and they are open at the following times:
Monday – 0800 to 2100
Tuesday - 0800 to 2100
Wednesday - 0800 to 2100
Thursday - 0800 to 2100
Friday - 0800 to 2100
Saturday - 0800 to 2100
Sunday – 1000 to 1600


Stanwatch:
You find supermarket sausages in chiller racks on the meat aisle more often than not, although often there are token butchery counters which contain the same stuff as the shelving units. In the Sleaford branch there is no separate butchery counter so even the pretence of in-store prepared meat doesn't exist. No stans.

Flavour:
Way too much salt and no noticeable herb content. The ingredients list quotes salt, sage, “spices”, mace, white pepper and ginger but there must be tiny quantities of all but the NaCl because you just can't taste them. Not quite as bad as a greasy spoon cafe sausage, but not far off.


Texture:
When you open the pack it appears that four Borrowers with terrible haemorrhoids are mooning at you. As flaccid as anything prior to cooking but improved a little in the grill as some semblance of texture emerged. The filling squirted at a great pace through the fork – not the finest (in terms of chunkiness OR quality) filling ever but the worst by a country mile of the Lincolnshire sausages we're currently reviewing. The awful filling is matched by the dreadful collagen skins which either dissolved and disappeared or turned into chewy papyrus. Fairly unpleasant.

Vital Statistics:
Average Weight Uncooked = 57 grams
Average Weight Cooked = 46 grams

Meat Content = 72 %


Value For Money:
£1.60 for 8 sausages weighing 459 grams (which is good, as the pack states just 454g, so you get 1% free). This works out as £3.49 per kg and 20p per banger.

We rate this as poor value for money. Cheapness does not necessarily equate to good VFM.


Three Word Verdicts*:
Junior Sidekick: “They're all right as filling in a bap”.
Ruth: “It's a cheap meal for those who need a cheap meal”.
JP: n/a


* Three word verdicts did, once upon a time, consist of just three words.


The "Aah, Bisto" Factor:
Zero discernible aroma from opening the pack to eating.

The Imaginatively Titled Next Day Cold Sausage Test:
You think there will be any sausages left from a pack of eight when Junior Sidekick is around? Ha! No chance.


And Finally, Esther:
These items are rated at 3.6 out of 5 on Sainsburys website – I expect this score will slide when I add my own opinion. Low price does not automatically equate to good value. I wouldn't recommend these to anybody.

Table so far:
1= Bycroft's, Boston
1= Southern & Thorpe, Ruskington
3 – Lyell's, Boston
4 – Hambleton Farms, Doddington Hall
5 – Manor Farm, Leasingham
6 – Dunham's, Boston
7 – Sainsburys, Sleaford


Monday, 6 February 2017

Lincolnshire Sausage Season #6 of 13 - FM Lyell - Boston

Our third Bostonian butcher is Lyell's, and if Rate My Sausage judged purely on warmth and helpfulness I would have to close down right now, because these people are unsurpassably lovely. But we're not, so I won't, and I'll stick to the more traditional “eat the sausages and give an opinion” method. You're not getting rid of us yet.


While I was lurking in the shop in true RMS fashion, a little old lady shuffled in through the door. She made her order, which was assembled and placed on top of the counter, but as she reached for her money she dropped loose change and a couple of cards onto the floor. Before you could say “One time they were just like you, Drinking, smoking cigs and sniffing glue” (name that tune!) the lady serving was around the counter and helping to pick everything up. Lovely! Real heart-warming stuff.


Where To Find Them:
Physically – Lyell's can be found on Wide Bargate in Boston, which is a little one-way street running along the side of one of the huge open market places in the town (there are two). You can park on this market place every day except Wednesday. If you're using SausNav the postcode is PE21 6SR.

Virtually - http://fmlyell.co.uk/ You really must check out this website, if only for the superbly evocative “About” section which tells us about the history of this business since it began in 1869. What you won't read on their site is that they can trace butchers called Lyell back to the 1500s (in particular Brian Lyell).


Opening Hours:
Monday – 0700 to 1630
Tuesday - 0700 to 1630
Wednesday - 0700 to 1630
Thursday - 0700 to 1630
Friday - 0700 to 1630
Saturday – 0630 to 1500
Sunday - Closed

Stanwatch:
I visited when there was just one lovely young lady behind the counter. And also the shop is being revamped, so maybe everyone else was busy elsewhere?


Texture:
Very pleasing. These chaps firmed up splendidly in the pan. The Squish Test (squashing the filling through the tines of a fork) gives a great result, no gruesome goo sticks to the fork and the filling re-grabs hold of itself when you move the cutlery away. This sausage falls apart beautifully in the mouth, perfect tiny nuggets of flavour burst apart for a great eating experience. The only slight let down with these bangers – and it is very slight – is the skins. They're good. But I want them to be miraculous! 


Flavour:
You only get one chance to make a first impression, so they say, and the first impression here was “Niiiiiice flavour”. It's sagey, sage abounds, while the pepper lurks complementarily in the background, like Dec behind Ant. The pork is very good, it's sweet and adds meaty lightness, and this is an altogether well-balanced Lincolnshire sausage flavour. Very good stuff.

Vital Statistics:
Average Weight Uncooked = 61 grams
Average Weight Cooked = 49 grams
Meat Content = 65.7 % (this is the minimum figure to meet the legal requirements, the average figure is 72%).


Value For Money:
£2.54 for 6 sausages weighing 364 grams. This works out as £6.98 per kg and 42p per banger.

We rate this as really good value for money.


Junior Sidekick's Three Word Verdict:
The wee chap had tonsillitis so was unavailable for reviewing duties.


The Imaginatively Titled Next Day Cold Sausage Test:
A-ha”, I cried, “You two are going in the fridge for me to eat tomorrow morning!”.

Not if I get there first” said Ruth. And so it was that I hid the cold bangers in the fridge, under the grapes, behind the cauliflower, and therefore safe.


I tried them with Stokes Sauces ketchup, Branston pickle and Colman's English mustard. The ketchup combo was tasty (can't go wrong with Stokes), the mustard was hot and hugely flavourful, but the best pairing – surprisingly to me – was the Branston pickle. The Sunday-tea sweetness of Branston cuts the sagey sausage flavour at a perfect right angle. Fabulous. Branston Pickles – you were right all along. Weirdly the leftover sauces resembled a recently elected leader....


And Finally, Esther:
Quality bangers from a quality local butcher. We heartily recommend!


Table so far:
1= Bycroft's, Boston
1= Southern & Thorpe, Ruskington
3 – Lyell's, Boston
4 – Hambleton Farms, Doddington Hall
5 – Manor Farm, Leasingham
6 – Dunham's, Boston


Monday, 23 January 2017

Lincolnshire Sausage Season #5 of 13 - Carl Dunham - Boston

Our second Boston butcher, and they have their work cut out to match up with Bycroft's bangers. Carl Dunham's is a small, family concern with a loyal local following, and pride themselves on providing quality Lincolnshire favourites, such as haslet and of course the sausages, our raison d'etre. Online reviews of Dunham's are generally very good so I was looking forward to road-testing their produce.


Service in this spotless shop was fast and polite and there was a steady stream of punters in and out while I was there, surely a good sign, although this may have been inflated as Wednesday is market day in Boston. “Go where the locals go” is a top tip for travellers abroad, and there was no short supply of Bostonians in Dunham's.

Where To Find Them:
11 Red Lion St, Boston PE21 6NY


Opening Hours:
Monday – 0730 to 1700
Tuesday – 0730 to 1700

Wednesday – 0730 to 1700
Thursday – 0730 to 1600

Friday – 0730 to 1700
Saturday – 0730 to 1400
Sunday - Closed


Stanwatch:
Several whitecoats beavering away in the wings, we approve!

Flavour:
More sage-y and less pepper-y, which is grand for a Lincolnshire sausage. I found these to have a “dense” taste with not a lot of subtlety going on – everything hits you in one unsophisticated wallop. Flavour-wise they're more reminiscent of a good quality supermarket sausage, but other factors raise them above that level.

Texture:
One of these sausages tried to murder me. Honestly. The pan was warmed, the sausages were inserted, and a couple of minutes later KER-BLAM! Yes, like a speech bubble in a sixties Batman episode, there was a loud pop stroke bang and one of them had blown itself to pieces. At the time of writing there has been no claim of responsibility from so-called Islamic State. Look at the picture. The poor sod didn't stand a chance. Despite one of these things trying to kill me they are rather more filler than killer. The texture appears OK when you slice through but it's a bit claggy, it's somewhat stodgy. It doesn't cope well with the the back-of-the-fork squishing test. Far from the worst ever but could definitely be improved.


Vital Statistics:
Average Weight Uncooked = 64 grams
Average Weight Cooked = 55 grams
Meat Content = Not displayed in store and follow-up question declined by butcher.

Value For Money:
£2.82 for 6 sausages weighing 382 grams. This works out as £7.38 per kg and 47p per banger.

We rate this as not bad value for money.

Junior Sidekick's Three Word Verdict:
They're quite squidgy”.


The "Aah, Bisto" Factor:
There wasn't much of a tempting aroma during cooking, but there was no way I was putting my schnozzle near to the pan for a better sniff! Not after Banger-geddon.

The Imaginatively Titled Next Day Cold Sausage Test:
We only bought as many as we needed so couldn't comment on how well they survive a night in the fridge.

And Finally, Esther:
You could do worse than popping into Dunham's for your Lincolnshire sausages, but you could also do better. Still miles better than a supermarket sausage.

Lincolnshire Sausage Season so far:
1= Bycrofts, Boston
1= Southern & Thorpe, Ruskington
3 – Hambleton Farms, Doddington Hall
4 – Manor Farm, Leasingham
5 – Dunhams, Boston


Thursday, 12 January 2017

Lincolnshire Sausage Season #4 of 13 - Bycrofts - Boston



Next stop – Boston. This is a small market town and port, whose name is said to be a contraction of “St Botolph's town”. This would make sense as the most notable feature (well, unmissable actually) is the sky-scraping tower of St Botolph's church, known as the Boston Stump.

I travelled to Boston by rail and you can see the Stump from many miles distant. Armed with nothing more than a hand-drawn map and a little prior knowledge from the Internet, I had high hopes of tracking down some top-quality Lincolnshire sausages (and hopefully some hand-made stuffing for JP to review – but more of that another day). The first sample up for review is from long-standing family butcher, Bycrofts.

You can peruse their website here :   Bycrofts   


We have a personal history with this butcher as my better half grew up in Boston and Bycrofts was the place that the family meats were purchased every Christmas. Ruth's mum was even offered the job of carer for an old Mr Bycroft once upon a time, but couldn't take up the offer due to other nursing commitments. Ruth was excited to try these sausages again, but equally apprehensive in case her warm childhood memories were dashed....how did it turn out? Read on....


Where To Find Them:
You can find this small but perfectly formed family butcher in Dolphin Lane in Boston – don't expect to park right outside though unless you're driving a Sinclair C5. The postcode for your SausNav system is PE21 6EU. Try to visit on a Wednesday – market day in Boston – and you'll find the town centre full of bustle and bluster, and tempting-smelling food vans. I particularly recommend the tea-caravan in the shadow of the Stump.

Opening Hours:

Monday 0800-1500
Tuesday 0800-1700
Wednesday 0800-1700
Thursday 0800-1700
Friday 0800-1700
Saturday 0730-1500
Sunday CLOSED


Stanwatch:
Three lovely young ladies smartly kitted out in Bycroft's green uniform will greet you most enthusiastically when you pop in. I think the girls tend to try and keep the butchers out of sight in”the back” but one of the Stans nipped into the shop while I was there. Let them out now and then girls!


Flavour:
Peppery but definitely not overdone, these sausages would suit a child's taste buds as well as the grown-ups. The pepper combines beautifully with the high quality minced pork to provide a perfectly rounded, rewarding flavour, the very definition of a Lincolnshire sausage. The seasoning here is better balanced than Beth Tweddle on a beam, and we just could not stop eating them (with consequences that you will discover later). Really delicious and a bold benchmark for Boston's butchers to beat.


Texture:
These sausages look really crumbly because they ARE really crumbly – which is a good thing. The pork is chopped medium coarse and holds together beautifully once you get inside the natural skins. These skins have more snap and crack than a bowl of Rice Krispies, and offer a delightful resistance to the knife. Maybe too much even, and the filling can occasionally bolt out rather than slicing cleanly. That is an observation, not a criticism. These bangers are larger than most and maintain their chunky look throughout cooking. A quality product.


Vital Statistics:
Average Weight Uncooked = 77 grams
Average Weight Cooked = 57 grams

Meat Content = I don't know. I'll ask when I go back....


Value For Money:
£3.21 for 6 sausages weighing 460 grams. This works out as £6.98 per kg and 54p per banger.

We rate this as very good value for money, a fair price for a delicious product.


The "Aah, Bisto" Factor:
If there is anything to raise an eyebrow about with Bycrofts best it's the lack of aroma during cooking. It could be down to the fabulous natural skins that I commented on earlier, but a tempting scent drifting out of the kitchen is all part of enjoying the meal....


The Imaginatively Titled Next Day Cold Sausage Test:
I knew there was some reason NOT to scoff all these sausages in one go. I can't tell you how these bad boys measure up after a night in the fridge because we enjoyed them so much that we just did not stop until the plates were clean. Cue an hour of satisfied groaning from yours truly, with zero sympathy from the Missus. Delicious, but be sensible!


And Finally, Esther:
You have to try these sausages. Quintessential Lincolnshires. Tell them that Rate My Sausage sent you....you won't get a discount but you can enjoy the distant and puzzled expressions on faces, and the almost inaudible “Oh yeah.....THAT idiot....”


Monday, 22 August 2016

Lincolnshire Sausage Season #3 of 13 - Hambleton Farms - Doddington Hall Farm Shop



It’s part three of Lincolnshire Sausage Season here at Rate My Sausage, and we’re already having a ball. Hopes were high after our visit to the beautiful Doddington Hall where we found an outlet of the well-renowned Hambleton Farms butchers. We’d visited Doddington Hall to spend the day exploring the house and gardens, which were currently home to an exhibition of over 350 sculptures, all of which are for sale (if you have deep pockets). The sculptures are only there until 11th September though, so hurry ye down – the gardens are charming and the exhibition is so enjoyable. One MUST buy is the glossy brochure which contains some artist biographies, nice shots of some of the art, and best of all the price list of every single piece – and all for the bargain price of £1.50. We’ve included a selection of our photos of the art in the gardens at the end of this review, to give you some flavour of it and try to persuade you to visit. Terrific stuff.


Where To Find Them:
There are four locations where you’ll find Hambletons – we visited their Doddington Hall outlet. If you’re using SausNav use the postcode LN6 4RU. Find the farm shop thus – when you are standing in the car park across the road from the Hall, and facing it, look to the left. The shop is approximately fifty metres in that direction. Go into the shop itself and the Hambletons area is at the back of the space and to the left. Other Hambletons outlets can be found on Gaol Street, Oakham, in Beckwith Emporium at Mears Ashby in Northamptonshire and Johnsons Garden Centre near Boston. More information and also maps of the locations can be found on their website: Hambleton Farms


Opening Hours:
Monday – Saturday 9.00am – 5.00 pm
Sunday 11.00am – 4.00 pm
Bank Holidays 11.00am – 4.00 pm


Stanwatch:
We only encountered one solitary Stan but he was perfect! Smartly turned out in immaculate butcher’s duds, jolly-looking and so friendly, give this man an extra tenner this week Hambletons!


Flavour:
Really well balanced flavours in this sausage. The salt and pepper seasoning is absolutely spot on, it makes each mouthful scrummy but allows the herby Lincolnshire taste – the lead role of course – to shine in the spotlight. Unusually, the more of these sausages you eat the richer the flavour seems to be, it’s as if it accumulates through your meal.  Sage-y and super, I was left wishing I’d bought more than one pack.


Texture:
Oh my goodness, oh my goodness! Pin your lugs back people – the skins on Hambletons’ Lincolnshire sausages are THE BEST I have found for several years. They snap so crisply when you cut into them, even the sound seems louder and lairier than other bangers. Snappier than a crocodile sandwich, obvs. Snap, snap, snap, like a pissed off doctor’s receptionist. The chop of the filling is medium-fine, which isn’t perfect for a Lincolnshire sausage and doesn’t fit with our ideal. But that’s just our own personal preference. We’ll overlook that on this occasion because OH MY GOOD LORD, these skins is perfection.


Vital Statistics:
Average Weight Uncooked = 64 grams
Average Weight Cooked = 54 grams
Meat Content = 82 %
Unusually you don’t pay for the exact weight that you purchase at this shop. Nope, instead the packs are labelled “Minimum weight 360g”, or some such. In our pack we actually came away with 386g, well over the guaranteed minimum. I like this way of selling.


Value For Money:
£4.20 for 6 sausages weighing 386 grams. This works out as £10.88 per kg and 70p per banger.
We rate this as good value for money.

 
The "Aah, Bisto" Factor:
Now you see, since we’ve been grilling instead of frying this part of the test has lost a lot of its significance. The aromas simply aren’t the same from a closed grill compared to the open, living, hissing frying pan. Not sure whether to stick with the healthy option or revert to type and dig out the pan again. What do you think?



The Imaginatively Titled Next Day Cold Sausage Test:
There were none left for next day nibbling.


And Finally, Esther:
Visit the hall and take some sausages home with you. Please. And when you cut into these superb skins, look towards Lincolnshire and thank us.

 
 Please enjoy some pictures of the exhibition: