Battle of the Bangers on St George’s Day

The Welsh may have their leeks, the Scots their Haggis, and the Irish, er potatoes, but what do English Northamptonshire types have to celebrate on our patron saint’s day? Dragon burgers?  Nope – sausages.

I’d like to claim that the common sausage was English, and specifically – from Northants but it’s not, so bear with me dear reader. The manufacture of sausages began over two thousand years ago… The modern word “sausage” comes from Old French “saussiche”, which is derived from the Latin word “salsus” meaning “salted”. The term was probably used to describe just about any type of salted or cured meat.

So although we can’t lay claim to the sausage as our own, we can at least try some of the best made from within the county. We’ve got some amazingly talented butchers only a short car journey away, such as Waterloo Cottage Farm , WH Thomas of Wellingborough and CR Potter of Stanwick to name but a few. So yours truly has taken the opportunity to explore some of the tasty sausages on offer and (in my head at least) create a battle of the bangers to celebrate St George’s day on Sunday 23 April.

What ingredients make for the perfect Northamptonshire sausage?

On my short journey I’ve met some amazingly talented craftsmen and women and discovered there’s a lot more to making a sausage super, than I might have originally thought. Also dear reader, note that I am not the connoisseur of the pork banger in our household, but I have three pretty good judges of “delicious” and they were eager to assist. So Muddies let’s take a look at three of the best shall we…

Bakers Bangers – Super sausages and “the best” hot dogs – just in time for sunshine and BBQ 

My golly gosh there are super tasty sausages on offer at Bakers Bangers based at Pipewell Hall, just outside of Corby. BB is the family run business headed up by Shawn Baker and ably assisted by his daughter Daisy (currently on sabbatical as she undertakes a career as a full on chef in Stamford).  Shawn has spent years handcrafting artisan gourmet sausages and smoked meats from his family home where sausage making is considered an art form. He hails from a long line of farmers and he himself is a butcher by trade, he has been improving and building on old family recipes and has carried the family tradition on; creating each and every gourmet sausage with handmade care, always using the best locally sourced ingredients including his own herd of pigs at Pipewell.

During our visit we had a sneek peak into the prep room, and were given some inside knowledge on his specially sourced kosher salts; learned about the difference between cold and hot smoking, and also how carefully the meat is treated. It’s art and science combined, and Shawn is truly a passionate man on the subject. Bakers Bangers doesn’t do mass production. They don’t do artificial either – they smoke all their products using natural hardwood. They’re able to boast of a wide range of delicious sausages with something for every taste from their traditional breakfast banger to a more adventurous continental spicy Italian sausage.

Bakers Bangers most popular sausage is the Austrian cold smoked cheddar hot dog.  It’s a foot long my friends – and it’s so scrummy that maybe a foot isn’t long enough.

The great news is that Baker Bangers are on tour this year, and you’ll be able to meet them at most Northants Food Festivals, Country Shows and Game Fairs – starting at Althorp Food and Drink Festival on 6/7 May, soon followed by the Oundle Food Festival 2017 on Saturday 24 June. It’s here that you’ll be able to sample some other products in Bakers Bangers range which include Breakfast Banger, Italian Venison, Bratwurst and Lamb Merguez and Beef and Guinness.  So if you are planning to meet Shawn and his lovely family at any of the events, perhaps skip your breakfast that day?

If we’ve tempted your tastebuds you can order on line via info@pipewellhall.com.

Bakers Bangers also offer a butchery course for £125 a day so you can learn how make your very own sausages, salami and black pudding (Mr Mudy is very keen)!

Muddy Verdict: It’s not just your average bangers from Bakers. Great local and international sausage recipes are complemented with some gorgeous tasting “dogs” – perfect for the BBQ. Some of the best we’ve had.

Bakers Bangers @ Pipewell, NN14 1QZ

Squ!sito Deli – Fine Italian sausages – grown and made in Northamptonshire

All natural high quality ingredients. Including Viagra?

The multi award winning Squ!sito is hidden away in the lovely village of Yelvertoft, and it’s a haven of good taste and artisan foods with a distinctly Italian theme.  Perhaps even more remarkable is that owner Alex Chambers, isn’t Italian – he just has a great feel for food to make people happy, and his heart lies in the family led, flavoursome, quality and farming that accompanies his tasty offering.  For this feature he rolls out the Brixworth sausage which is a simple recipe to satisfy sausage purists.  It’s delicious, but the more adventurous Northamptonshire palate could venture towards the spicy Viagra – a spicy powder keg of a sausage made with flavoursome chilli – the natural equivalent to Viagra we’re led to believe. Then Muddy tries out Napoli and Tuscan sausages so delicious, great cooked with a can of tomatoes or with chick peas/beans.

Alex, a pile of recipes, and great ingredients; the secret to Sq!sito sausage success

So at Squ!sito every sausage tells a story.  Alex almost single handedly produces a unique range of over 150 handmade sausages from Tuscan to Napoli and Luganega to N’duja plus over 100 specialities from around the world from South African Boerevors to Mexican Chorizo, Northamptonshire Beer & Rosemary to Worcester Apple & Perry. All of their sausages are produced from family recipes using Italian cuts and methods so they contain absolutely no additives, no artificial preservatives, no water and no gluten – “No Hooves & Eyelashes”.

Muddy Verdict: Good gracious me, multiple taste sensations on offer in Yelvertoft and certainly had our pulses racing. These sausages sizzle – they don’t bang.

Squisito Butchers & Provisions, The Butchery, 46 High Street, Yelvertoft, NN6 6LQ

Sauls of Spratton – Low fat sausages and much more

What you see is what you get at Sauls of Spratton

Sauls of Spratton are jacks of many trades and equally masterful.  You may remember Muddy’s pie haul from them during the recent British Pie week.  There’s also a full range of sausages on show (!) in amongst all of the other goodies, including the delicious pork pinwheels (which our Mudlets love), traditional favourites such as Cumberland, plus tasty Tomato and Basil or garlic and oregano.

Yes these are low fat, but it’s only calories that are missing – all the taste is present and correct

Of special mention are the Saints low fat chipolata sausages made with a much higher percentage of lean pork making them lower fat – seasoned with sage – a perfect protein hit for top performing athletes and a tasty, lower fat supper for those just watching their calories! All Sauls of Spratton sausages are homemade by them to a family recipe and use only English red tractor pork. Notably, Sauls offer an on line ordering system for those of us who like our home cooked food, but haven’t got time to nip over to Spratton and collect – delivery is free.

Muddy Verdict: Locally farmed produce makes for super sizzlers to savour.  Also look out for Saul’s new venture at Smiths Farm Shop, Chapel Brampton.

Sauls of Spratton Ltd, 27 Brixworth Road Spratton, Northants NN6 8HH
So there you have it, any excuse for the Muddy household to taste a bit of local produce. And the winner is…not really – they’re all great in their unique way – so we’ll just keep going until we’re full.
Check out the real Muddy Award 2017 – which will feature both Best Northants Local Producer and Best Northants Farm Shop awards – details here. You’ll be voting for one of these fine establishments very soon…

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside - Northamptonshire