Monday, 11 November 2013

A New Fan For Rate My Sausage

We have a new member of the Rate My Sausage Fan Club....

Junior Sidekick is on the right.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

West Norfolk Butchery - Heacham - Pork, Leek & Stilton Sausage

Sausages with cheese in them were a surprising and enjoyable revelation for me when I discovered that such a combination existed, in 2012  What started out as a potential assassination of a supermarket banger ended up being thoroughly positive about Tesco Pork & Red Leicester Sausage.  And then we visited Ely Farmers Market in Cambridgeshire and found Grasmere Farm's Pork & Stilton who took my new-found adoration for cheese-in-bangers to a whole new level. Grasmere Farm’s offering featured on Sausage Of The Year 2012  which speaks volumes for its quality and for how RMS saw the light last year.

So fast forward to our awayday to Norfolk coastal village Heacham, and we visited West Norfolk Butchery, a tiny shop affiliated to the West Norfolk pub next door.  As soon as I clapped eyes on the Pork, Leek & Stilton sausages I just HAD to have them. The same emotion that King’s Lynn’s womenfolk feel when they see me walk into the bar in Chicago’s on a Saturday night. Helpless desire (oh yes, they try to disguise their desire with obviously-fake pure indifference, or occasionally blatant disgust, but we all know that deep down, I am the top dog in Battersea Dogs’ Home. Not intending that metaphor to reflect the women, natch).

That was a slight tangent.  Back to Heacham, and the cheesey sausages.  Having spotted the bangers and waited for maybe six or seven minutes for the Stan behind the counter to finalise his golfing arrangements for the next day, I introduced myself and explained a little about Rate My Sausage. I never expect or want the red carpet rolled out but on this occasion the reaction was practically ridicule. When I asked if I could review the sausages Stan replied “If that’s what ya wanna do soldier!” The whole encounter left me feeling or knowing that the butcher seemed to be cocky, self-interested and not particularly customer oriented.

As Peter Griffin once said to Chris, in one of the Star Wars tributes, “That’s good kid, don’t get penis-y”.

But! This is Rate My Sausage and not Rate My Butcher, so ignore all that and let’s see how the sausages got on....

Meat Content:

I didn’t note the percentage, sorry. And the butcher was way too “in yer face, geezer” to even consider quizzing him about the amount or provenance of the pork.  These sausages are not overly piggy, but I guess there’s enough pork going on to contribute to this quite nicely balanced banger.  


The first slice was all pork and leek – our current fave variety – but where is the stilton?  Second slice was porky and deliciously cheesey, no leek!  And so it continued, with each successive forkful handing you a different combination of flavours.  I quite like this, it hints that the sausages are hand-made and mixed, and not done by machine. Don’t know if that’s true or not, maybe West Norfolk Butchery may tell me?  Overall this is a good mix of ingredients giving a nice banger, the pork generally takes a back seat and allows the zingy cheesiness to romance your taste buds along with sweet leek.  This all adds up to a flavoursome, enjoyable product, well done.

Certainly not the worst, but ever so, ever so regular.  There are hardly any nuggets of porky variety, be it fat, gristle, whatever, which regular readers know we love.  So – the texture is the weak point in this otherwise half-decent sausage.

Average weight uncooked - 61g
Average weight cooked - 51g

Shrinkage - 16%

Quite good.

Value For Money:
£3.20 for 8 sausages, weighing 484g - this works out as a price of £6.61 per kg, or 40p per snorker.

The concept is really good, the flavour is varyed and interesting, the texture’s average to disappointing. So overall we’ll have to describe West Norfolk Butcher’s Pork, Leek & Stilton Sausages are “not too bad” value for money.

The Bisto Factor:

Great cheesey aroma towards the end of cooking process, unusual and great!

Opening Hours:
Monday: 0900 - 1500
Tuesday: Closed
Wednesday: Closed
Thursday: 0900 - 1500
Friday: 0900 - 1500
Saturday: 0900 - 1600
Sunday: 1000 – 1600

Opening hours are obviously aimed at the tourist trade from the surrounding caravan parks. Fair enough.

And Finally, Esther:

I liked the sausages but deplored the buying experience.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Howard's - Heacham - Heritage Sausage

Our sausage safari around Heacham continues, and this week we’re visiting Howard’s butchers, which you will find on the High Street. Just across from the Post Office (maybe, memory not so good at my advanced old age).  The area is predominantly residential streets so you should be able to find somewhere to park quite easily while you pop inside for some great meats.  It’s not just meat though, check the pic further down, Howard’s sell a really good range of very local sauces, fruit, juices, pickles, etc.

Now, the name Howard’s may be familiar to you if you’ve been Rating The Sausage for a long time.  We have rated sausages from a Howard’s before – not this one but the shop in Gayton, a few miles out of King’s Lynn. We absolutely loved their Howards Pork Sausages, and the review contains the phrase “six year old Junior Sidekick”.  He’s ten now, we’ve been doing this for a while then! Two Howard’s butchers? Is there a connection you eagerly ask? Yes there is!  The Howard name comes from Old Farmer Howard, who ploughed Norfolk’s green and pleasant landscape for many years. Sadly Old Farmer Howard passed away two years ago.  But if nothing else, his legacy of Most Excellent butcher shops is something he would be extremely proud of.  There’s rivalry between Heacham and Gayton outfits – Heacham tell me that everyone at Gayton is hirsutely challenged (i.e. bald as a coot). This is a direct quote from Richard Howard, boss of the Heacham shop! Are you going to put up with that, Gayton?

Family fun-feuding aside, you’ll receive a wonderful warm welcome here. And, best of all, there’s a stunning, hot girlie behind the counter. Yes, we’re getting all chauvinistic here, but you Have to check out this complete hottie. Brenda is an ex Heacham Carnival Queen. She is delicious!  But enough of the background information that you, the readers, love so much, here’s what we thought of their bangers:

Meat Content:

70%.  This little piggy put his heart and soul into these sausages, not to mention the more traditional and higher quality cuts of pork which we know go to making a good banger, such as arse, belly and shoulders. His sacrifice is greatly to our benefit.  These taste MEATY (capitals intended), which in itself is a good thing, and it’s a neat trick when Howard’s claim a healthy but not record-breaking 70% pork content.

Simply put, “sweet and meaty”.  Really rather splendid.  I’ve no idea why they’re called “Heritage” though, I don’t “think” it’s an ages old recipe.  Maybe it’s simply clever marketing?  I tried to work out where the sweetness was coming from....sweet basil?  Nutmeg?  The flavour is tenderly light on the palate and it’s a brilliant contrast with the rough and ready, agricultural texture. Nice!


Huge shock.  Grainy, almost gravel-y, this is by far the best texture of 2013 so far.  The sausage filling is on the dry side, which simply serves to emphasise the component pieces of meat. You can’t push your fork easily through these babies, compare and contrast with the bloody awful Iceland sausages that we tried so hard to eliminate. Top marks Howard’s, bloody lovely.

Average weight uncooked - 71g
Average weight cooked - 55g

Shrinkage - 23%

Unimpressive stats for an otherwise superb banger.

Value For Money:

£2.61 for 6 sausages, weighing 424g - this works out as a price of £6.16 per kg, or 44p per snorker.  That’s kind of bang in the middle of this year’s range of prices, but you have a Champions League sausage for that money.  I can only rate Howard’s (of Heacham)’s Heritage sausage as bloody fantastic value for money/ Bravo!

The Bisto Factor:
There wasn’t much going on in the olfactory department when I fried these beauties.  But there was plenty going on in the “you ain’t gonna eat ME, sucka!” department.  These are Feisty sausages., in that they have apparently evolved a self-defence capability - they spit Extremely Molten, Liquid Fat. Straight at you.  Wherever you stand the jet of lava-like fat comes straight for you, it’s uncanny, and obviously deliberate. These sausages spit more often, and further, than the front row at a Stiff Little Fingers gig.

Through A Child’s Eyes:

No chance matey, these were all long gone before Junior Sidekick could even get a sniff!

Success! There was a Stan in action, and, brilliantly, the Stan was hailed to come and talk sausages! Stan makes the bangers at this excellent little butcher’s shop, and you’ll be able to spot him as he’s the only (male) member of staff with a full head of hair. We like to call it “Stan Fluff”.

And Finally, Esther:

Superb sausages.  Please go and buy some as soon as you can....

Monday, 1 July 2013

Baker's - Norwich Market - Norfolk Pork Sausage

I found Bakers the butchers on Norwich Market in February, when visiting the Norfolk Diet farmers’ market outside the Forum.  Their stall is very close to that of the most excellent Pickering's butchers, whose sausages we loved.  Pickering's Norwich Sausage  Could this smashing city centre market provide us with two smashing butchers, selling super smashing sausages?


You only get one chance to make a good first impression, and sadly Bakers fluffed their lines.  I had to loiter with intent for several minutes before I was noticed, and then, when I did eventually show up on their Customer Radar, the demeanour was gruff and surly.  Seriously Not Good guys!  There was no please or thank you during the transaction, another huge disappointment.  Frankly I felt as if my presence and potential custom was something of an inconvenience. Very depressing.  The sausages would need to be absolutely exceptional if Bakers had any hope of emerging with their reputation intact.

How did they fare? Read on dear sausage lover....

Meat Content:
70%.  The lumps and bumps of meat inside indicate a decent amount of pork content, and it “seems” to be decent quality pork at that.  Not bad but nothing to write home about. 

Warm on the tongue, there is a Lot of salt included here, in my opinion too much of the warm stuff.  Very little going on, flavours-wise, and these sausages taste cheap.

These snorkers looked very finely chopped when sliced, as you can see, and smelled exactly like a motorway service station banger (tasting notes show two “sad-face smilies” at this point).  BUT! Amazingly, and a first positive note in this entire review, they were much lumpier than they looked.  Disappointment melted away and became “OK, not too bad”....actually the texture was very good, lots of chunky bits and bobs, and a lovely welcome surprise.

Average weight uncooked - 65g
Average weight cooked - 52g

Shrinkage - 19%

Average numbers for this average product. Neither good nor bad, unremarkable sums it up.

Value For Money:
£2.54 for six sausages, weighing 390g - this works out as a price of £6.50 per kg, or 42p per snorker. For me this price is on the lofty side for what you get.  Based on this pricing I’m rating Baker’s Norfolk Pork sausages as below average value for money.

The Bisto Factor:
Notes read “smell fab when frying”.  These are short and stubby, smell great, and appealing - just like me!

The Imaginatively Titled Next Day Cold Sausage Test:
Tasty! Surprisingly the skins became rather chewy and weren’t a patch on the hot version.  The filling was juicy and crumbly.  Some like it hot but taste-wise these bangers revel in the cold. Worth buying some just to fry, chill, and enjoy.

Stan Spotting:
There was a Stan in the background, but sadly he was either engrossed in the butchering he was undertaking or completely disinterested in customers.  The former, I hope.

And Finally, Esther:
Great texture, shame about the taste.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

How To Kill An Iceland Sausage #7 - Call In The Royal Air Force

It's the final day of Rate My Sausage's attempt to win the Nobel Prize for Services To Ridding The World Of Crap Sausages.  We've whacked them, chucked them, dragged them, you name it, but the bloody things have proved extremely difficult to kill.

For our final attempt we call in the world's finest military operation, the Royal Air Force....we hope you have enjoyed our sausage-smashing antics over the last week....

We spied a bunker in the distance.  A bunker made of mashed potato?  And they're flying a German flag!

Closer surveillance revealed some of the inhabitants.  That looks very much like Adolf Shitler to me.  And what an appropriate name for an Iceland sausage.

Let's get him!  We need a sniper and Junior Sidekick boldly stepped up to the mark.

A full magazine of rounds were expended and did some damage.  One of Shitler's henchmen was laid low.  And the bunker didn't like it either.

But that wasn't the outcome we wanted.  Call in the RAF!  Junior Sidekick's boots were given insignia and we were good to go.  Time on target?  About six seconds....

SPLAT!  The airstrike hits the target with deadly accuracy. Mash and Iceland sausages scatter every which way.  Surely this time we have MULLERED the bloody awful Iceland bangers?

The thing to remember is....if there are no Lancasters available, a Wellington or two will do the job just as well.

Oooooh, nasty. There won't be any survivors out of THAT little killing zone.....

DAMMIT!  We were wrong again, and Adolf Shitler survived intact.

The final score is Rate My Sausage 2 Iceland Sausages 5

The conclusion we draw is that you must NEVER buy these foul tubes of mushy crap.  Because if you do, they are almost impossible to dispose of.  Thank you for reading our light-hearted series of banger-busting efforts.  And.....don't have nightmares.