Sausages, Bacon And Ham

 

How ever you cook sausages or bacon, it is essential to use the correct techniques to enjoy them at their best. The preparation and presentation of a whole ham is a particularly useful technique when entertaining guests.

COOKING SAUSAGES

As sausages cook the meat expands; to ensure they do not burst, pierce the skins before cooking. Sausages have quite a high fat content, which helps keep them moist. To counteract their richness, they can be glazed with a sweet mixture such as mango chutney or honey.

PRICKING THE SKINS

To prevent sausages bursting, during cooking, prick all over with a cocktail stick or fork.

GRILLING

Most sausages take about 10 minutes to grill. Coil Cumberland sausages and secure with skewers.

POACHING

Add sausages to boiling water, cover and simmer for 3-5 minutes; Frankfurters only need 1-2 minutes.

TYPES OF SAUSAGES

Most sausages are made of pork, although beef, veal and lamb varieties are becoming more widely available. They can be plain or seasoned with herbs and spices.

VARIETIES FOR GRILLING:

Choose French varieties such as andouillette and boudin noir or English ones like chipolatas, Cumberland and Lincolnshire.

VARIETIES FOR POACHING:

Sausages that are most suitable for poaching are the French andouille, cervelat and boudin blanc, and the German Frankfurter, Bockwurst and Knackwurst.

USING BACON IN COOKING

Rindless streaky bacon rashers are used to line terrines and loaf tins, or rolled around a filling to be served as an hors d'oeuvre. They need to be stretched before use, to prevent shrinkage during cooking. Bacon lardons are used in French cooking as a flavouring ingredient - their strong, often salty, taste is essential in many classics such as boeuf bourguignon and coq au vin.

STRETCHING

Hold two rashers together and run the back of a chef's knife along their length.

ROLLING

Roll stretched rashers around filling; secure with wooden cocktail sticks.

MAKING LARDONS

Cut thick rashers lengthwise into strips. Stack the strips and cut crosswise into dice.

TYPES OF BACON

The flavour varies according to the curing ingredients (such as sugar for a sweet cure), and the wood that is used in smoking.

• Unsmoked bacon is also referred to as "green" and has a white rind. When smoked, the rind turns brown.

• Streaky bacon is from the chest of the pig; it is a fatty bacon called lard in French.

• Petit sale and pancetta are similar cuts from the belly of pork. The curing process makes them quite salty, with a strong smoky flavour.

PREPARING AND PRESENTING A HAM

A boiled ham must have its skin removed before serving or it will be very difficult to carve, but the fat underneath the skin is unappealing. This is essential for an attractive presentation if you are planning to serve the ham whole at the table.

1. Score the fat of the boiled ham attractively in a diamond pattern with the tip of a small knife. This will allow the glaze to penetrate and flavour the meat.

2. Warm the glaze until melted, then spread it evenly over the fat with a palette knife. Take time to work the glaze into the cuts so that it will seep into the meat and flavour it.