Tuesday 21 May 2013

Oaktree Farm - Norwich Farmers' Market - Rare Breed Pork & Leek Sausage

I stumbled across Oaktree Farm at Norwich Farmers’ Market in February.  (As an aside, this is a super little market which you can find right in front of The Forum in beautiful, downtown Norwich, and is held on the second Saturday each month (except June, for some reason)).  The genial chap beneath the Oaktree Farm stall was the one and only Brian Parkin, who is the ringmaster of the Oaktree set-up along with his wife Jane.  Brian is a truly lovely and fascinating chap, and I thoroughly recommend that you approach him for some fabulous and knowledgeable insight when you see him.  Hope that’s OK Brian?  Tell him Rate My Sausage sent you....

There is a website for your online pork-based browsing pleasure: http://www.sheltonfarms.co.uk/index.html which includes details of the various farmers’ markets where you may be able to meet them.

If you don’t want to visit the website, here’s what Brian has to say about their smallholding: “Oaktree Farm is located on the plain above the Waveney Valley at Shelton Common. The farm itself has been nestling in the landscape for several hundred years, although the house was rebuilt in the late 1800s and has been modernised and remodelled since.

Like most smallholders we raise a variety of rare-breed and native livestock, but we are particularly proud to be home to the Shelton herd of Pedigree Large Black pigs and the Shelton flock of pedigree Wiltshire Horn sheep. In addition to these we run a small flock of Soay sheep, have a couple of cattle and assorted ducks and chickens. Helping us with the sheep are Eve and Sam, our two Border Collies, and keeping them in order are our four (yes, four) cats.

So, you’re up to speed with who Oaktree Farm are, now read on to find out how we rate their sausages:

Meat Content:
70% according to the list of ingredients.  Rare breed pork carries a reputation for being higher in quality and finer in flavour than yer normal pig meat – would that be reflected in these sausages?  It sure is!  The meat is light and delicate, and pale in colour.  It’s sinew-ey (sp?), you can see the make up of the filling with plenty of decent-sized nuggets of pure high-class pork interspersed with the fragments of leek.  This is chilled-out pork, and marvellous for it.  Less High Street greasy spoon, more Amsterdam coffee shop.  And impressively, there’s the occasional glob of pure fattiness, thank you!

The flavour is subtle, and on the sweet side for a sausage – that’s what you get with pork and leek.  The relaxed and natural rearing process definitely seems to shine through in the taste, which is not in yer face, but more of a delicious porky arm around your shoulder.  The combination of leek and pork is the current Rate My Sausage favourite and Oaktree Farm’s version is seductive, gentle and full of flavour,  These bangers will lure you behind the summerhouse and fondle your taste buds.

Very good, nice large lumps in the filling, crumbles nicely.  Good natural skins which almost disappear during frying but have the distinctive kind of squeak when you’re eating.  Filling is soft, moist, bound nicely together.  Altogether, a jolly good offering.

Average weight uncooked - 72g
Average weight cooked - 59g

Shrinkage - 19%

Not too bad on the shrinking scale, which helps towards the following paragraph’s verdict....

Value For Money:
£4.42 for six sausages, weighing 431g - this works out as a price of £10.26 per kg, or 74p per snorker.  This is pricey, so the sausages have to punch above their weight to have any chance of a decent VFM rating.  Rest assured, these are fabulous bangers and I class them as Very Good value for money.  Treat yourself, you will not be disappointed.

The Bisto Factor:
No particular aroma during cooking, which is a slight shame – take care when cooking yours as they went from “not ready” to slightly over-cooked very rapidly.  You may be left smelling a faint burnt aroma.

The Imaginatively Titled Next Day Cold Sausage Test:
Very good when hot, Oaktree Farm’s bangers were simply divine when cold.  Muscly and solid to the touch contrasting marvelously with the delicate sweetness of the flavour. 

And Finally, Esther:
On the expensive side here, but definitely worth it for a treat.  Lovely.


Unknown said...

Thanks for the review, these do look super. Almost worth making the trip over to East Anglia just to try these out...

Do you have any plans to dip your toe into the budget/"value" end of the market again? I admit I enjoy reading your scathing, negative reviews even more than the glowing positive ones.

Rate My Sausage said...

Hi Simon, and thanks for your comment.

We certainly are looking at some VERY crap sausages soon, namely "Iceland Sausages". 27% "meat", need I say more? This will appear within the next three weeks.

Hope you keep on reading!