Thursday, 3 October 2019

The Decent Company - Abergavenny - Pork Sausage

Is it too soon to mention Christmas? In my humble opinion it definitely is. Having said that, is it too soon to mention Sausage Of The Year? Weeelll....maybe. But you might well be looking at it right here...

Do the names Tom and Barbara mean anything to you? They were the main characters in the classic sitcom The Good Life, in which a couple left the rat race behind and tried to live a self sufficient life. The story of The Decent Company has echoes of this story, in that the founder, Martha Roberts, also quit a life of spreadsheets and meetings to become, in her own words “A former suburban, corporate woman, gone rogue!” They share values and beliefs but the difference between the two is that Martha shares her vision, and the meat that it creates, with a loyal following of extremely satisfied customers. The most common way to purchase the end product is via the half pig, quarter pig or taster boxes. I'd love to describe Martha's life and her smallholding to you but it's done much better on her own website (a link can be found further down the page).

Before ordering my quarter of a pig I did a little research online, and asked people for their opinion on the sausages – here are some of those views:
We like them so much we bought a year's supply!”
I highly recommend them (and Martha's pig-keeping skills/high welfare standards).”
Oh yes, loved them. And reordered.”
Previous customers seem happy enough eh?

Where To Find Them:
The Decent Company is of course a real-life smallholding, but you can only purchase their piggy products online. The website is beautifully designed and gives a great insight into the high welfare standards employed. As it's such a small scale operation the meat is not available all day every day, and becomes available only when the current broods are ready. For this reason I would seriously advise contacting Martha via the order form on the website, or via Twitter (@MarthaRoberts). The online form also let's you know when the next batch of pork will be available.
If for no other reason, visit this website for lots of lovely pictures of piglets doing what piglets love to do: THE DECENT COMPANY

Opening Hours:
The internet is open 24 hours a day, every day, except Easter Sunday. Early closing Thursday afternoons.

The pork from the mostly Gloucester Old Spot pigs is so sweet, it provides a prominent yet delicate flavour here. My notes say “Absolutely bloody lovely”. There's seasoning here but it's subtle, just enough to give the taste a boost but not so that the meat is overpowered. It's a smooth, old-fashioned deliciousness that I loved, and frankly can hardly wait to get the next lot in the frying pan!

The filling is quite fine but beautifully firm at the same time, you're hard pushed to squish these through your fork (unlike poor quality offerings from the likes of Richmonds, Iceland, etc). In the mouth the sausage breaks apart allowing thousands of tasty bobbles of flavoursome pork to run riot. The skins snap just perfectly when cut, and squeak in the mouth. Near perfection...

Vital Statistics:
Average Weight Uncooked = 59 grams
Average Weight Cooked = 48 grams
Meat Content = 85 %

Value For Money:
Our sausages came as part of our “quarter pig” box so it's impossible to separate their price. The webite though lists a kilogram of sausages for £10, so I'll use that. We ordered the quarter pig box, at £90 which iis a good price for the large amount and variety of meat that you receive.
£3.51 for 6 sausages weighing 351 grams. This works out as £10.00 per kg and 58p per banger. Far from extortionate for such a quality item.
We rate this as fabulous value for money.

The "Aah, Bisto" Factor:
We've always fried sausages for our reviews, and this time was no different. As I've recently moved house I am still trying to get the hang of using a gas hob (had a couple of disasters so far too), so these sausages were fried very slowly. Oh my goodness, oh my goodness....the whole house was filled with the most mouth-watering aroma, which just got better as the bangers browned. Lovely.

The Imaginatively Titled Next Day Cold Sausage Test:
Yeah, right. You think any of these beauties would survive overnight? No chance.

And Finally, Esther:
From start to finish there is nothing not to like about The Decent Company and its products. Sausage Of The Year? Maybe. Martha Roberts is a food heroine.

Thursday, 26 September 2019

Player Profile - Lee Horsley Frost

Welcome to the second of our "player profiles" in which we find out more about sausage fans and producers, in the style of Shoot football magazine in the seventies. This time we've been speaking to that gobby butcher from Manchester, Lee Horsley Frost, read on to have a look inside his head...

Full name? Lee Frost, you daft ****

How old are you? 46

What was your first car? Cavalier

Where were you born? Manchester

What pets do you have? Labradors, black

What’s your favourite type of sausage? Pork & sage or a Lincolnshire. Must use British large white pigs, the meat is nice and fatty. Texture should be fine.

Which shop do you buy sausages from most often? Never bought a sausage in my life! 

Should sausages be dirt cheap or reassuringly expensive? Reassuringly expensive.

Invent a new type of sausage: We’re working on a chilli and chocolate sausage at the moment, but it needs some more work...

Which non-politician should be the UK Prime Minister? Alan Sugar.

Which 3 people, alive or dead, would you like to cook sausages for on your BBQ? Elvis, Lady Gaga, Sophie Raworth.

Would you prefer to be a billionaire or live to 103? Billionaire.

In what profession would you like to be the world’s best? Something to do with sports shooting

Blackjack or Fruit Salad? Fruit Salad.

Beatles or Stones? **** the Beatles, bunch of ******* scallies.

Clouseau or Poirot? Clouseau.

Tiswas or Swap Shop? Tiswas.

Alan Titchmarsh or Charlie Dimmock? Alan Titchmarsh, top man.

Frosty is a good sport and a self-proclaimed legend on Twitter - @FrostyButcher - but he does find some time to produce seriously good meat products including SUPERB sausages. Check our review then phone him up to order some:

If you would like to feature in a future edition please get in touch!

Monday, 23 September 2019

Wayne Howe - Misterton (near Gainsborough) - Tomato Sausage

Although universally known as “tomato sausage” this isn't yet another vegan hijacking of a traditional meat product. This sausage should properly be called a pork & tomato sausage as tomato is used as a flavouring rather than the entire filling. Here at Rate My Sausage we've been looking for a great tomato sausage for years but with mixed results, how would these from a highly recommended butcher go down?

First of all a little background, so bear with me. When we're not hunting out the perfect sausage, me and my junior sidekick Sam travel around lots of football stadiums, to enjoy the games but also to rate them in terms of atmosphere, food & drink etc. Last season we visited Barnsley FC at their Oakwell stadium, and ahead of the visit asked their fans via social media a few vital questions about parking, best chip shops etc. We were contacted by a very friendly chap called Derek Lindley, who not only gave us great insider knowledge about Barnsley FC but also pointed us in the direction of his favourite butcher – Wayne Howe in Misterton...

Where To Find Them:
With such a glowing thumbs up a visit became compulsory and so, a few weeks later, I found myself in the Gainsborough area hunting bangers and took a slight detour to Misterton to find this legendary shop. You can't miss it, it's on the main road through the village, directly opposite the Co-op (where you can park safely and for free). If you're going to use SausNav the postcode is DN10 4BU.

If you're looking online you can find their website here: Wayne Howe website

Opening Hours:
Monday – Closed
Tuesday – 0800 to 1730
Wednesday – 0800 to 1730
Thursday – 0800 to 1730
Friday – 0800 to 1730
Saturday – 0800 to 1600
Sunday - Closed

One Stan on view, extremely helpful and immaculately turned out in traditional butcher's garb, shirt tie, green apron and hat. Perfect presentation. We were also told that these chaps have appeared on the telly show DIY SOS, when they donated trays of sausage rolls and pies to the building crew when the show was filming in the village.

Very decent tomato tones make these the best tomato sausages we have reviewed. The high quality pork plays its part too of course, Wayne uses belly and shoulder cuts provided from very local producers. The seasoning seems light which isn't such a bad thing here as it allows the tomato and pork to take centre stage. These are tasty sausages and I sliced the leftover links and added them to a salad – perfect contrast guaranteed.
If you have a specific type of sausage that you would like to try then please contact these guys – they will happily concoct any combination that you like, and have made many different varieties in the past including tomato & cheese and pork & Worcester sauce!

These are large lumps of sausage, and they do not shrink in the pan. Check out the vital statistics. Firm and unyielding under the knife but when you have a slice in your mouth it dissolves slowly and sensually into delicious and good-sized pieces. Take a look at the fork photo – lovely size lumps of porky perfection – contrast that to the smooth, squirty filling in the likes of a bloody awful Richmond “sausage”. No contest! Why would you waste money on plop when you can enjoy a properly built banger like this?

Vital Statistics:
Average Weight Uncooked = 70 grams
Average Weight Cooked = 66 grams
Meat Content = 65 % - as you will often find with independent producers, this is a minimum figure to ensure they pass any Food Standards inspections. The “real” figure is approximately 72%.

Value For Money:
£3.23 for 6 sausages weighing 420 grams. This works out as £7.70 per kg and 54p per banger.
We rate this as very good value for money.

The "Aah, Bisto" Factor:
There's a distinct lack of aroma when cooking which is a slight disappointment. But when you cut them open, YES, the tomato is there and smells delicious.

And Finally, Esther:
Very good sausages. You simply have to visit Misterton soon! Superb produce – and they're best mates with Nick Knowles!

Thursday, 19 September 2019

Pork Pie Of The Month - August 2019 - Marks & Spencers, Bourne

This is no ordinary pork pie....this is a Marks & Spencers pork pie. That's how the advert would probably sound. But would it be justified, is this really a superior product? I bought this example in the M&S foodhall in Bourne but I am sure you can find exactly the same product in any of their 959 stores across the UK. In sausage reviews we have repeatedly shown that supermarket versions are almost always inferior to the butchers' own offerings, is that same with pork pies?

Well this pie looks decent, a slightly irregular crimping is nice. There is some leakage during cooking, but I don't see that as necessarily a bad thing. But there's no aroma, none at all – very disappointing. The filling is fine cut and densely packed together, heavy on the pepper but pretty unremarkable. Pastry I quite like, it's dough-y and not overdone. And there's a good layer of jelly that actually goes right the way around the pie. So it's OK. It's par for the course. It's average.

This is no ordinary pie...oh, hold on....yes. Yes it is.

Appearance & Aroma 2.5
Filling 3
Pastry 3
Jelly 3.5
Total 12.0

Price £3.50

The year so far:
14.0– Manor Farm Shop, Leasingham (made by Southern & Thorpe, Ruskington)
12.0 Marks & Spencers, Bourne
8.0 - Chris’ Quality Butchers, Worksop (made by Potters of Barnsley)

Monday, 8 July 2019

Pork Pie Of The Month - July 2019 - Chris' Quality Butchers, Worksop

Welcome to the second edition of Pork Pie Of The Month! This time we’re rating a pie bought from Chris’ Quality Butchers in Worksop but made by Potter’s of Barnsley. I have to admit that I was a little disappointed when told that Chris’ didn’t make their own pies in-house, but that certainly wouldn’t affect our judgement of the product. If you want to check out Potters’ website click here - POTTERS

I was joined for this tasting by Tony Clarke, a pork pie lover from beautiful downtown Mansfield. Tony has some decent credentials for the job – his uncle worked at Pork Farms in the seventies and would bring the family a huge gala pie every Christmas. There were no leftovers...

But on to the job in hand, and Potters pie.  First appearance showed an obviously machine-crimped lid (compare it to the top of last month’s pie), which set some alarm bells ringing. The colour was also very much what you might find in a supermarket pie - bland. We cut into it and the pastry was mid-range, firm enough to keep things where they should be but also soft enough to allow easy slicing. This didn’t please Tony much as he prefers his pastry “very hard”. Each to their own....but he’s wrong, obviously!

The filling was very finely chopped and we prefer something much chunkier. “Needs more salt” said Tony, but he did prefer the filling to the case. The flavour was average at best, again very reminiscent of a supermarket pie. There was not a lot of jelly and this pie needs a lot more of the wobbly stuff to lift it out of its mid-table mediocrity.

This pie cost £2.39 – less expensive than last month’s but also much less quality.

Appearance & Aroma 2
Filling 2
Pastry 2.5
Jelly 1.5
Total 8      

The year so far:
14.0 – Manor Farm Shop, Leasingham (made by Southern & Thorpe, Ruskington)
8.0 -  Chris’ Quality Butchers, Worksop (made by Potters of Barnsley)

If you know of an excellent pork pie please tip us the wink!