Masterclass in tying British Bangers

Well, I’m obviously not going to give it all away here on the blog - I’m still writing up the complete guide to making sausages for my next book. But, what I can show you is how to tie up a classic butchers string of sausages.

I spent an hour or so with Vince from Humphreys in nearby Clare. He’s an excellent butcher and patient tutor – I’m a lousy pupil. The trick is to make a loop, and tie that onto the string – sort of like pulling a U-shape from the whole length and then knotting that onto the string. Whereas, what I kept on doing, was making a loop which somehow left me having to thread a six foot length of sausage through that loop. Disastrous.

If you’re making sausages at home you can always do it like the southern Europeans do and loop a length of string around the sausage at appropriate lengths. Or, simply do what the Cumberlanders do – ignore the situation completely.

Obviously my apologies for the quality of the sound recording – I took this quick video so I could re-play it again and again whilst writing up the technique. I thought it was so fascinating, mesmerising even, that I should put it up on here.

You’ll have realised, of course, that I am the one holding the camera whilst Vince ties the sausages.

Vince demonstrating how to tie a string of British bangers from Tim Halket on Vimeo.

Steak and chips with Maite d’Hotel butter.

There’s nothing particularly amazing about a bloke cooking himself a steak and chips as a lonely writer’s Friday lunch. This lunch, though, is all about the butter.

It’s a good steak – ribeye today – cooked in one of those ribbed pans. A minute or two on each side until it’s done as you like it, served with a couple of handfuls of oven chips. In our house, the children favour those “American style chips”, skinny chips we call them.

What peps this up is the butter. I normally make a little tarragon butter and add crushed garlic, shakes of Tabasco, something sharp (lemon or vinegar) and plenty of salt and pepper. But today with the tarragon in the garden having gone a big leggy, I picked a small bunch of curly parsley. A niggling voice in my head said – woah, try something different.

It was one of those rare moments of clarity, I pulled out Larouse. Maitre d’Hotel butter. It’s good to cook something classic every now and then. Find a book, look it up, and stick to the recipe. I’ve so long been doing that tarragon butter thing that I had all but forgotten how fabulously simple this parsley butter is.

I was going to write the recipe for the butter in my own words, but it seemed more appropriate to offer you the original Larouse version, so here it is, verbatim:

BEURRE À LA MAÎTRE D’HÔTEL – Mix ¾ cup (200grams) of fresh butter with 1½ tablespoons of chopped parsley, 1 teaspoon (6 grams) of fine salt, a small pinch of freshly ground pepper and a dash of lemon juice and stir with a spoon until it forms a smooth paste.

Once you’ve made it, wrap it up like a sausage with clingfilm and put it in the fridge to firm up. Whilst you’re cooking the steak, take the butter out of the fridge, unwrap it and cut a decent slice from the middle. Place it on top of the steak. Watch it slowly melt as you eat.

The leftover (there will be plenty from the quantity above!) can be kept in the fridge for a few days. It also freezes remarkably well.

One last quick thing, I suggest you rub your steaks with a wee-splash of dark soy sauce before frying or grilling them. It does great things for the flavour.