Ross Cooks: Inexplicable Success – Irish-Italian Sausage Rolls

Irish-Italian Sausage RollsThis is adapted from a recipe I saw on Cooking Tip of the Day. I basically made a couple of changes out of necessity and had a couple of serendipitous mistakes, and the result was good enough that I wanted to write down what I did in case I want to do it again. I assume it’s a lot more flavorful than the standard Irish Sausage Roll, but it’s not too spicy. The texture and seasoning is very similar to meat loaf, but being made of pork instead of beef makes it a little more exciting. The kale is mostly just there for the nutritional benefits. And because we had a whole bunch of kale left over after a St. Patrick’s Day party. Kale is a tricky ingredient. You can use it like you would other leafy greens and it has a nice enough texture, but it isn’t as flavorful as mustard greens and it isn’t as inoffensive as spinach. The trick to using it, I think, is to pair it with things that play down its bitterness, and it works well here.

This is one of the few “exciting” dishes I’ve made that Dylan was willing to try, and he loved it, even asking to take one to school for lunch tomorrow (he’ll probably forget, but still). I paired this with a hybridized mashed potatoes I’ll document in the near future.

For the Filling:

  • 1 lb mild bulk pork sausage
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
    • We don’t keep breadcrumbs on-hand, so I made mine by sending 2 cups of croûtons through the food processor
  • 1 large onion, chopped fine
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp basil
  • ½ tsp thyme
  • ½ tsp tarragon
    • There was supposed to be two cloves of crushed garlic in here too, but when I realized I’d put in tarragon instead of thyme, I got flustered and forgot to add it.
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ tsp marjoram
  • 1 big handful chopped kale

For the crust:

  • A sheet of puff pastry (This comes frozen, two to a pack. Thaw one in the fridge overnight
  • A beaten egg.
    • If your eggs come in quantities smaller than “one egg”, you really only need half of an egg.

Mix everything from the filling list together by hand in a big mixing bowl. I did this the night before, and I think that’s a good idea because the filling is easier to work with when it’s cold.

Heat the oven to 400°F. Unfold the puff pastry. Puff Pastry sheets come folded into thirds, and you’ll want to separate it at the creases. It will want you to do this to itself probably and will conveniently start to break there as you unfold it. I gather you’re supposed to use a thing called a pastry razor for cutting puff pastry. I don’t have one, but you can generally get away with using a paring knife if you dip it in warm water before each cut. Now you want to add about half-again to the width (the short dimension) of each third with a rolling pin. You’re shooting for something in the neighborhood of 5-5½ inches wide (the sheet is about 10 inches tall). The source I’m cribbing from said 4½ inches, but I couldn’t fit all the filling in without an extra inch or so. The pastry should be pre-floured, but because of the way it’s packaged, one of the pieces will probably not have enough flour on it. Even adding some more to my rolling pin, I had trouble with that piece sticking to the pin, and I ended up stretching that piece out to something ridiculous like a foot by six inches, but it ended up okay.

Separate the filling into thirds. Press each third into a long log along one of the long edges of each sheet. Brush egg onto the rest of the sheet. Now, roll each sheet into a log. Basically take the bit where the meat is and roll it over onto the exposed bit of the sheet where you just brushed egg. It’ll probably be a tight fit. Before you roll it all the way closed, I’d brush a bit more egg on the now-exposed underside of the pastry sheet where the edges are going to meet up. Press the seam closed as best you can — this is tricky because the filling is pretty squishy and will want to come out the end. You can roll the log back and forth a couple of times to get it nice and round if you want, but the next step is kinda gonna squish it again. You should have three 10-inch sausage rolls by now. Cut each one into four pieces (again, wet paring knife trick) and brush the outside of the whole thing with egg.

Place the rolls seal-side-up on a parchment-lined baking sheet and cook for 25 minutes, at which point the sausage should be cooked and the pastry nice, firm and puffy. These will render out a lot of fat, so get them off the parchment and onto a paper towel right away to rest for 15 minutes. If the seals have held (all but one of mine did), turn them upside down so the bottoms don’t get soggy. You’ll want to turn them again before serving because the seal side is the pretty one.

I used the sausage drippings from this to sauté some more kale to accompany dinner in a nice mornay sauce.

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