Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Fosters Butchers - Lincoln - Lincolnshire Sausage

 I was born in Lincoln and spent the early part of my childhood there. We lived in Spa Street, a neat terrace on a steep hill, leading off the main Monks Road downwards towards the railway lines. It therefore made sense to start my search for Lincoln sausages in a butcher on that very road, Monks Road, just a stone’s throw from my first primary school.

Instead of writing my own background info I will quote from the Fosters’ website. “We are a local family run business, which has been trading from the same premises for over 130 years through 6 generations of the Foster family. During this time our business has changed considerably. We not only operate a top quality retail butchers and bakers shop but we also supply a wide range of catering outlets including pubs, restaurants, hotels, canteens, schools and nursing homes.

We also operate our own bakery which produces homemade Lincolnshire pork pies, meat pies, sausage rolls, homemade bread and cakes. We also produce our own top quality Lincolnshire sausages and haslet.

We particularly pride ourselves on the reputation that we have built up for our Lincolnshire Beef. We still select direct from the farm, choosing local farms that we have built up a good relationship with over a number of years. The Beef is butchered on our premises and then most importantly matured correctly for perfect eating quality.
The current owners are brothers, Mark and Paul Foster who along with their skilled and experienced staff work hard to provide all their customers with top quality local produce.”

Where To Find Them:
The address in 111 Monks Road, Lincoln, use the postcode LN2 5HT if using SausNav. You can park in the side road adjacent to the shop.

Opening Hours:
Monday – 0730 to 1700
Tuesday – 0730 to 1700
Wednesday – 0730 to 1200
Thursday – 0730 to 1700
Friday – 0730 to 1700
Saturday – 0730 to 1300
Sunday - Closed

Owners Mark & Paul Foster were both a-choppin’ and a-slicin’ away when I arrived first thing on a Monday morning. They weren’t alone, at least one other smartly overalled Stan was busy at the block. I like to see the chaps preparing the produce fresh and on-site.

First note reads “spot on the money for a Lincs”.  You’ll find very well combined flavours of pork and sage with just the right amount of seasoning. There’s a very gentle heat of pepper as an after-taste but it’s balanced out by the sweetness of the locally sourced pork. Fosters have got the ingredients mix exactly right here, well played lads! I did ask for the recipe but as always “It’s an ages old secret, passed down through the generations”. Bah.

To start, the skins here are fabulous, natural casings and when fried have that snappy quality when you cut them. These snap like an overweight rugby player’s jockstrap.  The filling initially seems quite fine but when you push it apart there are plenty of decent sized niblets of niceness to keep you happy. These sausages fall apart beautifully in the mouth. I’d say “an eight and a half, maybe a nine in a few beers time” – can you spot the music quote there?

Vital Statistics:
Average Weight Uncooked = 64 grams
Average Weight Cooked = 55 grams

Meat Content = 65% minimum. As with any good quality butcher they add more than this but state 65% as a safe benchmark for the Food Standards people.

Value For Money:
£3.23 for 8 sausages weighing 512 grams. This works out as £6.29 per kg and 40p per banger.
We rate this as fantastic value for money.

The "Aah, Bisto" Factor:
They looked a little pale and uninteresting before cooking but bulked up manfully and impressively while browning in a most pleasing style. Irresistible aromas wafted around the kitchen as these sausages fried in the pan. There were also lovely bubbly sizzling sounds as the fat content melted and did its job, moistening the filling beautifully. Cooking them was almost as much fun as eating them.

And Finally, Esther:
These are brilliant bangers at a barmy low price. You’ve simply got to try some as soon as you can.

Friday, 22 February 2019

Manor Farm Butchers - Leasingham - Breakfast Sausage

We reviewed some Lincolnshire sausages from  Manor Farm in 2016 and were interested to see if standards had been maintained (if you want to read what we said click here MANOR FARM LINCOLNSHIRE). I have been shopping regularly at this farm shop ever since, to me it means guaranteed high quality produce, be it veg, dairy, meat, you name it.
A traditional Breakfast Sausage has a light flavour that should not dominate the other items on the plate – it should act as supporting actor and not a self-proclaimed  spotlight attracting star. A Brian Murphy instead of a Brian Blessed. This is not to say that they should taste bland, they certainly should not, ideally the breakfast sausage will contain delicately seasoned meat that should still please the taste buds. How will Manor Farm’s version rate? Read on, sausage fans...

Where To Find Them:
On Moor Lane in Leasingham, just north of Sleaford off the A15. If using SausNav the postcode is NG34 8JN. There is free on site parking.

Opening Hours:
Monday – 0830 to 1800
Tuesday – 0830 to 1800
Wednesday – 0830 to 1800
Thursday – 0830 to 1800
Friday – 0830 to 1800
Saturday – 0830 to 1700
Sunday – 0900 to 1600

The boys were actually linking the bangers when I visited, and doing a grand job. When you visit look out for the butchery cubicle, it looks just like an old-fashioned ticket kiosk at the cinema! I hope they let the stans out for a cup of tea now and again.

Warm and rich flavours with no over-powering individual ingredient. Just as any good breakfast sausage should be – the sidekick to the other superhero ingredients. The back-up to some special bacon. The henchman for the, errrrm, hidneys (hidneys is copyright to RMS, we really mean kidneys). If you are looking for a powerfully flavoured banger as the centre-piece for your meal then these sausages are not the ones you seek.

Firm and resistant to the eating irons, quite fine filling which sticks together like a bunch of missionaries trekking up the Amazon. I prefer a much coarser filling in a sausage but in this case it suits the bijou size of each link. If you could magically enlarge these bangers to the size of a regular sausage the filling would be lumpier, and more to our peculiar taste. Nowt wrong with the texture in these snorkers!

Vital Statistics:
Average Weight Uncooked = 39 grams
Average Weight Cooked = 29 grams
Meat Content =  71% lean pork. I forgot to ask in the shop so had to message later on – and received a very prompt reply. Cheers

Value For Money:
£3.99 for 12 sausages weighing 466 grams. This works out as £8.56 per kg and 33p per banger.
The label states “Minimum 445 grams” and I am pretty sure that every pack contains more than that. We rate this as good value for money.

And Finally, Esther:
A decent breakfast sausage. Would play a perfect foil to some high quality black pudding. Or maybe kidneys. Or beef bacon. Try some!

Thursday, 7 February 2019

Ancaster Butchers - Sleaford - Pork & Tomato Sausage

I popped into the Bristol Arcade in Sleaford to find some interesting bangers, and visited Ancaster Butchers’ (fairly) newly opened premises. Times must be good for this outfit to be expanding from their shop in Ancaster, which is great news. We visited them before Christmas and picked up lots of high quality meat products, including their Lincolnshire sausages which we reviewed here – ANCASTER BUTCHER LINCOLNSHIRE SAUSAGE

Bristol Arcade is a quaint fifties curiosity, a miniscule shopping mall with vaulted glass ceiling. The entrances are directly opposite the market place and also on Southgate, you can’t really miss it....Ancaster Butchers are towards the market place end. I highly recommend their beautifully thick pork chops....

Opening Hours:
Monday – 0730 to 1630
Tuesday – 0730 to 1630
Wednesday – Closed
Thursday – 0730 to 1630
Friday – 0730 to 1630
Saturday – 0730 to 1200
Sunday - Closed

It’s a satellite shop from their main base so there’s only one Stan here – helpful and informative though. 

In light of previous reviews of tomato sausages I was a little dubious about trying them again. I shouldn’t have worried. Although still not exactly as I fondly remember from childhood – which was a long time ago – these sausages certainly do have a lovely tomato flavour, my first written note was “YES! TOMATO!” The taste is sweet and really lovely, which you wouldn’t maybe expect when you look at the uncooked photo – they appear brooding and a little satanic. The previous tomato sausage reviews are listed at the bottom if you would like to do some additional reading.
Skins are good, quite brittle, therefore snappy and first-rate. The filling is a decent mid-thickness, you can see tempting lumps of pork and fat which I like. I wonder if it’s harder to create a decent filling when one of the ingredients is so watery, as tomatoes are? They are certainly very juicy as the photos show, Ancaster Butchers have done a good job here. They cooked up nicely with no drama although there was a little opaque red seepage. 

Vital Statistics:
Average Weight Uncooked = 57 grams
Average Weight Cooked = 55 grams
Meat Content = Sorry, I forgot to ask. But I was extremely impressed with the lack of shrinkage here,  only 2 grams lighter after cooking than before. Outstanding.

Value For Money:
£2.83 for 6 sausages weighing 341 grams. This works out as £8.30 per kg and 47p per banger.
We rate this as good value for money.

The Imaginatively Titled Next Day Cold Sausage Test:
I saved two sausages for this test but they mysteriously disappeared from the fridge overnight. Where’s Scooby Doo when you need a mystery solving?

Previous Tomato Sausage Reviews:

Vox Pop:
I asked people their thoughts on tomato sausages, and here are some of their replies....

  • Bit like cheese with fruit in it - may be quite tasty but I don’t really see the point. Sausage with a tomato is good, this would have to be even better.
  • I like tomato sausages with, say, egg and chips but not with gravy or mash. Cold in sandwiches good also. Nana at York used to like them.
  • Love tomato sausages.
  • They are the Devil's sausage!  

And Finally, Esther:
A good attempt at the mythical tomato sausage from my childhood – will I ever find what I’m looking for?

Friday, 1 February 2019

Wetherills - Sleaford - Plain Pork Sausage

“Local Lincolnshire pork sausages med by a yeller belly...”

Have you ever heard the phrase “No Frills” when applied to goods or businesses? It’s fairly synonymous with the words basic, rough, cheap, and other not particularly nice phrases. However, in the case of Wetherills Butchers you will find a No Frills operation that provides high quality produce.

As far as I can see this business is housed in an old stable down an innocuous looking side passage off Southgate in the south Lincolnshire market town of Sleaford. Take a look at our photo and keep your eyes peeled for the sign on the wall – it’s on the same side of the street as the Wise Owl discount store.

The Weight-loss Club Controversy:
One reason that I was interested to try these sausages was to investigate the alleged link with a major weight-loss club....we’ll call them Dieting Planet. A few years ago Wetherills sold lots and lots of sausages to members of.....Dieting Planet....and there was some confusion over whether this was an official endorsement or not. It appears that it was not, although this was no fault of the butcher, who had never claimed such a link. As soon as word escaped that their low fat sausages were suitable for the....Dieting Planet....scheme it spread like wildfire. Sadly, rather than enjoying a little free publicity, Dieting Planet came on heavy handed and threatened all kinds of consequences. Very disingenuous. For the record, Wetherills butcher makes no claim whatsoever to any kind of association with....Dieting Planet....or any other organised weight-loss organisation.

However, if you are looking to lose a few pounds then Wetherills sausages can definitely help. I watched as nearly all the fat was trimmed from the pork before mincing. Also there is less rusk in the low fat versions. Still tasty, but less on the waisty. For the record, Paul believes that each low fat sausage counts roughly one “naughty point”.

Opening Hours:
I love quirky opening hours and these are crackers...
Monday – 0730 to 1400
Tuesday – 0730 to 1300
Wednesday – 0730 to 1300
Thursday – 0730 to 1400
Friday – 0730 to 1300
Saturday – 0730 to 0830 and then 0930 to 1300
Sunday - Closed

What you see is what you get here. Paul and Tanya are the full complement of staff, and you can see everything that they’re doing. Nothing hidden away “round the back” in this shop. Flipping cold in the winter I bet.

Low cost but far from low quality...the nice Lincolnshire bred pork is allowed to shine through in these uncomplicated sausages. The seasoning is subtle, just sufficient to highlight the sweet porkiness, and in summary these bangers “do exactly what it says on the tin”. The butcher doesn’t add any fancy stuff at all, it’s pork, just pork, and it’s all the better for that. 

My notes say “Initially – juicy! A very decent chewy mouthful”. And there you have it really. The cut is quite fine but the filling becomes more crumbly as it cools after cooking. Priced very similarly to retail rubbish such as Richmonds, the gulf in quality is immense; these have the feel of a proper banger as opposed to the sludge-like plop inside a mass-produced monstrosity.

Vital Statistics:
Average Weight Uncooked = 85 grams (EIGHTY FIVE!)
Average Weight Cooked = 67 grams

Meat Content = Wetherills declare the meat content as 65% but in a recent Food Standards test the actual figure turned out to be 72%.

Value For Money:
£2.57 for 6 sausages weighing 510 grams. This works out as £5.04 per kg and 43p per banger.

We rate this as blooming marvellous value for money. As previously mentioned the pricing is very similar to, say, Richmonds or Walls, but you would be mad to buy those when you could have these! And remember, each of these weighs in at 85 grams, the Richmonds only 56. What would you rather pay for?

The "Aah, Bisto" Factor:
Frying these sausages was a painful experience – but only because I had been slicing onions to make the onion gravy and my eyes were on fire! I can’t tell you if there was a delicious aroma wafting around, I was too busy crying my eyes out.

And Finally, Esther:
I said it before and it’s worth repeating - Low cost but far from low quality. Try some as soon as you can.

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Dorset Meat Company - Pork Sausage - Reviewed by Boris the Irish Water Spaniel

We’re not known for innovation but we think this is a first – the world’s first ever sausage review written by a dog. In this case written by Boris the Irish Water Spaniel.....here he is....

As promised here is my review of The Dorset Meat Company’s lovely pork sausages. I am quite an expert on sausages and rate this as the best one ever ! 10/10 .The only negative thing is that mother over cooked them as she likes them well done - it went very quickly!

Not only do I and my brothers and sister eat cooked sausages as a treat we also eat a raw diet. We love meat in this household!

If you would like to peruse the products from the Dorset Meat Company then click on these links:

And to wrap up this ground-breaking tour de force, here is how Boris' owners enjoyed their bangers - in a sausage and onion sandwich. Thanks for the review Boris, look forward to the next one!