Monday, 9 April 2018

Lincolnshire Sausage Season #9 of 13 - Simpsons - Sleaford



Simpsons is a chain of butchers in Lincolnshire, and are part of the Q Guild – this is a real mark of excellence, and my dealings with them have so far confirmed that they are deserving members. If you want to learn more about the Q Guild then click here Q GUILD. I visited their Sleaford shop (see Where To Find Them) and was, as usual, impressed with the experience.

Unusually for a high street butcher Simpsons run their own Rewards scheme, available for both in-store customers and for online shoppers. This is a great marketing idea to ensure their customers keep returning – however I think people probably make return visits due to the quality of produce on offer, and not just to top-up their Simpcard.


They have a nice functional website too, have a look, but only after you finish reading this review! SIMPSONS BUTCHERS


Where To Find Them:
There are six lovely Simpsons stores dotted around, but this one is located inside Four Seasons Garden Centre at Silk Willoughby. Head out of the market town of Sleaford on London Road and after a mile or so you will find them on the right hand side. Don’t turn to the left or you’ll find yourself in Birdies, which claims to be a golf centre and not a “gentlemen’s club” but we shall never know the truth....
If you’re using SausNav use the following postcodes for their shops:
Sleaford – NG34 8NY
Spalding – PE11 1SG
Heckington – NG34 9RW
Lincoln – LN2 4SX
South Hykeham – LN6 9NT
Stamford – PE9 4BB

Opening Hours:
Unusually for a butcher their opening hours are regular and extensive, not a quirky “half day closing on a Tuesday” in sight.
Monday – 0800 to 1700
Tuesday – 0800 to 1700
Wednesday – 0800 to 1700
Thursday – 0800 to 1700
Friday – 0800 to 1700
Saturday – 0800 to 1700
Sunday – 1000 to 1600


Stanwatch:
If you’re a fan of the men in white coats pottering around behind the scenes then you will love this place. There’s an almost constant buzz of activity behind the counter. Stans carrying freshly baked pastries hither and thither, stans topping up the professional looking chilled display cabinet, and a whole host of stans in the actual butchery area, which you will spot off to the right behind the counter.

Flavour:
These bangers are very herby, the mouth is filled with sagey flavour, almost (but not quite) too much. Did Stan the butcher cough when weighing out the herbs and adding them to the mix? The pork is light and sweet and definitely takes a supporting role. These sausages taste a million times better than some sludgy monstrosity from a supermarket. 


Texture:
First thing to note is the skins – and how they are not like Amanda Holden’s lips. That is, they are not made of collagen. These natural sausage skins are a delight, there’s a lovely snap when you cut them and a nice resistance when you’re chewing. Take a look at the filling in the pictures and you’ll see that is quite fine and quite juicy – a little too fine to be perfect for us but still pretty good. We love the range of sizes we found in this offering from Simpsons, from the proverbial “blind cobbler’s thumb” right the way up to some large and chunky meat torpedoes. Good stuff, and proof that these are hand-made and not squirted out of an automated machine onto a conveyor belt.

Vital Statistics:
Average Weight Uncooked = 61 grams
Average Weight Cooked = 52 grams
Meat Content = 68 %

Value For Money:
£3.69 for 8 sausages weighing 485 grams. This works out as £7.60 per kg and 46p per banger.

We rate this as very good value for money.


Three Word Verdicts:
Junior Sidekick – was playing basketball with his mates.
Ruth “I liked those”. Ruth went on to say “The skins were tough. Initially sweet then a nice, strong flavour without being overpowering”.
Jacob – was playing on his Playstation.

The "Aah, Bisto" Factor:
Only a slight hint of herbs in the air.

The Imaginatively Titled Next Day Cold Sausage Test:
Now here’s a spooky tale. There were three Simpson’s Lincolnshire sausages left over, and these were stashed away in the fridge for next day testing. But hey presto, next day the sausages were gone. It’s a complete mystery and I’m thinking about giving Yvette Fielding and Derek Aporkah a call....


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

And Finally, Esther:
A good quality Lincolnshire sausage. Give ‘em a go.


Monday, 19 March 2018

Southern & Thorpe - Ruskington - Chicken & Sage Sausage (aka Chicken Linconshire)



We’ve tasted sausages from this place before and we were very impressed. Last time we tried their Lincolnshire sausages as the first part of Lincolnshire Sausage Season (further reviews coming soon, by the way), and after eight tests so far they are currently top of the table. Must tell you something. If you want to read what we wrote then click on this link – SOUTHERN & THORPE LINCOLNSHIRE SAUSAGES– but do so after you finish reading this one!

The obvious question you’d ask is “Why chicken?” Their pork Lincolnshires are so good there would seem to be little point in diversifying. The answer lies in Southern & Thorpe’s desire to provide their customers with exactly what they want. There was a request for a slightly healthier version of the Lincolnshire sausage and instead of altering the recipe mix of meat,/bulking,/seasoning etc it was decided to produce something completely different. A side effect of this is that these bangers are less fatty than usual and therefore popular with customers who are watching their waistlines - but still offer high quality flavour and texture.

Where To Find Them:
Point yourself towards the large village of Ruskington in south Lincolnshire, then aim for the middle of the village. There is a babbling brook (called The Beck) running down the main street and you can park either side of that or in the Co-op car park, for free. Head towards the church and Southern & Thorpe is directly opposite – look for the shop with a conservatory on its roof! If you’re using SausNav the postcode is NG34 9DY.

But beware! These are definitely a limited edition product, produced in small batches. Very much an “under the counter” offering, available only if you know the password and roll your trouser leg up to your knee while singing Waltzing Matilda. Well, maybe not quite “that” extreme, but if you’re visiting specifically for these chicken sausages I’d strongly recommend phoning ahead to ensure you’re not disappointed.


Opening Hours:
Monday – 0800 to 1300
Tuesday – 0800 to 1700
Wednesday – 0800 t 1700
Thursday – 0800 to 1700
Friday – 0800 to 1700
Saturday – 0800 to 1300
Sunday - Closed

Stanwatch:
No Stans as before, but the lovely helpful Stanettes were there in force, delightful as always.


Flavour:
It’s finger-licking tasty! Lighter flavour than the pork version but bloody lovely nonetheless. There’s a healthy hit of sage as you’d expect backed up with nicely balanced seasoning. The pepper content is just right – you can tell it’s there but it stays in the shadows and lets the sage and chicken take centre stage. Most chicken sausages you can find are bland, mass-produced and quite flavourless – these ones are a delight.

Texture:
The chicken is crumbly but moist, how they’ve done it is beyond me. Crumbly but they stick together bravely until you get a forkful in your mouth – this disintegrates and allows the flavours to introduce themselves to your taste buds. The sausages shrink noticeably to the eye during cooking but retain a very healthy and creditable percentage of their initial weight. Good texture!


Vital Statistics:
Average Weight Uncooked = 61 grams
Average Weight Cooked = 53 grams
Meat Content = yet again I failed to make a note. Call them and ask – 01526 834359.

Value For Money:
£3.60 for 8 sausages, weighing 484 grams. This works out as £7.44 per kg and 45p per banger.

We rate this as very good value for money. Maybe more costly than other chicken sausages you may use if you’re trying to lose weight, but oh so much better in every way.


Three Word Verdicts:
Junior Sidekick “Need more chicken”
Ruth “Different and interesting”

The "Aah, Bisto" Factor:
Little aroma during cooking, certainly not as tempting as your average pork banger. Don’t let that put you off though. There is a constant low level sizzle during cooking, even at a low temperature – what a tease!


And Finally, Esther:
Different and delicious sums it up. Buy some!


Thursday, 16 March 2017

Lincolnshire Sausage Season #8 of 13 - Redhill Farm Free Range Pork



Have you heard of Fifty Shades Of Grey? Maybe not the kind of thing you’d talk about in front of the vicar or your nan, but it was a global sensation. Well take a look at the photo of the two chaps behind the Redhill Farm Free Range Pork stall. On the right is Terry, co-owner and married to boss Jane. On the left is part-time rock god and expert sausage-maker Steve Shelley.

Steve is an interesting character who juggles the butcher business with aspirations towards Hollywood – and the breaking news is that he will be starring in the 2018 blockbuster “Fifty Shades Of Pork”. Script and plot details are very hard to unearth, but I can confirm that it is certainly not “Babe 3 – When The Cash Runs Out”. Oh no, this movie is going to be high quality as shown by the choice of Steve’s co-star, Kerry Katona.


Enough of the showbiz fluff, I am not Perez Hilton after all. Let’s press on to the real meat of this review, Steve’s lovely porky Lincolnshire sausage. This is not the first time we have reviewed these bangers and usually our revisits are a purely public service to confirm if a truly dreadful product – Iceland sausages, Tesco Everyday Value sausages, etc – is still terrible. On this occasion this was a wholly selfish visit as we’ve never had a poor product from Terry, Jane and the team.


Where To Find Them:
This company has won more awards than Ant & Dec so you will always be assured of great produce, whichever method you choose to find them:
Physically – You can take a road trip to the farm itself which is located near the village of Morton, outside Gainsborough. If using SausNav type in DN21 3DT. There’s a farm shop there which is open from 0900 to 1700 Tuesday to Friday and 0900 to 1500 on Saturdays, Everyone deserves a weekend right? The shop stocks a great range of indulgent, local goodies, including:
·    The Tracklement Co. Mustards & Chutneys
·    Belvoir Cordials & Presses
·    Lincolnshire Poacher Cheeses
·    Kitchen Garden Preserves
·    Free Range Eggs - from their own Maran Free Range Chickens
·    Free Range Chickens
·    Their own Fresh Lamb - Zwartble and Charollais Breeds
·    Their own Home Grown Beef (limited supply) - British Blue
·    Ownsworth's Rapeseed Oil
·    Ivy House Sloe Gin
·    Olives Et Al - Olives, Dressings
·    Moden's Lincolnshire Plum Bread

Redhill Farm Free Range Pork are also ALL OVER the local farmers market scene – we found them in Sleaford – and you can check if they will be in a market place near you soon by clicking this link - Redhill Farm at Farmers Markets
Virtually: They have a nice website that is easy on the eye and easy to navigate: Redhill Farm Free Range Pork


Stanwatch:
As described at the start, Terry and Steve were manning the stall with enthusiasm and knowledge.

Flavour:
FAB! Ingredients are simply the high quality pork, sage, breadcrumbs, rusk, black pepper and salt to preserve and this all adds up to a sweet and smooth taste with no sharp corners. The sage and pepper are well balanced and do not overpower, and the combination is bloomin’ beautiful. Word of warning – these are big sausages and we don’t recommend that you tackle too many in one sitting. But don’t panic, there is as much pork and flavour in one of these sausages as in two of most other butchers’ bangers.

Texture:
Very crumbly at the right moments, which is a good thing. Sometimes the skins fall off which may be viewed as a negative but could also be seen as the sausage showing itself off. The filling falls apart when you push and then clings together like survivors in a Titanic lifeboat. The skins are not snappy, simply functional, to keep the good stuff inside properly contained.

Vital Statistics:
Average Weight Uncooked = 90 grams
Average Weight Cooked = 69 grams

Meat Content = 75-80 %



Value For Money:
£6.09 for 8 sausages, weighing 716 grams. This works out as £8.51 per kg and 76p per banger.

We rate this as Fantastic value for money.

Three Word Verdicts:
Ruth “Much better sensation on the taste buds when cold. When warm skins were non-existent”



The "Aah, Bisto" Factor:
Nice gentle aroma during cooking. We’ve pretty much returned to frying instead of grilling, it’s the Proper Way to do your bangers. These sausages are huge logs of meat and eight of them barely squeezed into the pan. Several ends burst out (which we like), and one split lengthways (which we don’t like so much – makes it look like Jack The Ripper’s been making your breakfast).


And Finally, Esther:
Big, beautiful, bruising bangers that taste terrific! Buy some as soon as you can. And grab some of Steve's collar bacon too!

Table so far:

1= Bycroft's, Boston
1= Southern & Thorpe, Ruskington
3 - Redhill Farm Free Range Pork
4 – Lyell's, Boston
5 – Hambleton Farms, Doddington Hall
6 – Manor Farm, Leasingham
7 – Dunham's, Boston
8 – Sainsburys, Sleaford

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