Regiments of Sausage Rolls, ready for the oven
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I don’t like surprises. I do like apple pies. My husband is an avowed, unrepentant, sour-face-making apple-hater, so, to avoid the calorie intake involved in eating an entire apple pie by myself, I satisfy my apple pie craving with a weekly purchase of the single-serving version at McDonald’s. The Egg McMuffin I get with it is strictly for justification. That makes it breakfast, not just a pie binge. But my whole focus is really on the apple pie, which I think McDonald’s does well.
So you can imagine my chagrin a couple of weeks ago when I bit into my much-anticipated weekly ration of McDonald’s apple pie only to come away with a mouthful of cold, bland, yellow pudding inside a stiff cookie crust dotted with sprinkles. Bleh. I let the gelatinous blob roll right out of my mouth just like our dog Kita did that time she insisted on trying fresh pineapple.
(Hey, if you hang out under my kitchen island, you take your chances with what falls off the cutting board. Sometimes it’s a piece of chicken, sometimes it’s not. Life is like that.)
I checked the box that had held the mystery food product. Oh, the betrayal. It was an apple pie box. Some joker had stuffed the wrong pie in it, and now I was a mile away, reaping the bitter harvest. A search on Google revealed that what I had was a Holiday Pie, although how rainbow sprinkles and pudding should relate to Christmas or Hanukkah was not at all clear. I tossed the pie in the trash and spent the rest of the day in a huff.
I have a point here, mainly this: Please make these sausage rolls, but be sure to tell everyone who eats them that they are a SAVORY holiday food. Food surprises are unpleasant. You don’t want a situation where someone’s expecting to enjoy a sugary treat, only to find themselves with a mouthful of pork sausage unexpectedly. It might be as if you (speaking hypothetically, of course) were at a meeting of your church’s women’s guild where the bishop of your Catholic diocese was set to speak, and he might have (again, hypothetical here) opened his remarks with a comment about the pastry rolls on the potluck buffet table. And you might (hypothetically) have puffed with pride because you’re the only one who brought something wrapped in pastry, and by golly the bishop had singled out your potluck offering as worthy of special mention, and then, oh dear, the bishop instead was saying something about having his mouth primed for a sweet pastry only to be completely shocked by a mouthful of pork sausage, and it wasn’t a good surprise. And you might (oh, how I wish this were hypothetical) have wanted to crawl under the table because your sausage rolls were the reason this mild-manned, elderly bishop was now peeved, and one of your tablemates with a wicked sense of humor might possibly have grinned at you and said softly, “Didn’t you bring those, Kath?”
I swear I’m almost over it. Hypothetically.
So, to review:
Always check what’s in your apple pie box before you leave McDonald’s.
Never give a dog pineapple, even when she begs for it.
Put a label on the platter of delicious, but non-sweet, sausage rolls before your bishop gets hold of one.
Sausage Rolls, traditionally served at my house on Thanksgiving and Christmas mornings. In general, a British holiday treat that my mother showed me how to make many years ago. Amounts are estimates, mostly because I usually assemble these at 2 a.m. on those holidays due to a masochistic streak of poor planning, and I am too bleary-eyed to take notes.
Enough flaky pastry dough to make about 4 single crusts (Yes, mine is homemade, but if you must, buy the pre-made stuff. Just don’t tell me.)
About 2 pounds bulk sausage (I prefer the Jimmy Dean brand, regular flavor.)
Egg wash (1 large egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water)
Preheat the oven to 425°F., and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Roll pastry in a rectangular shape on a lightly floured surface to a thickness between 1/8 and 1/4 of an inch. Cut chunks of raw sausage lengthwise and squeeze with your hands into tube shapes, placing them in a solid line down one side of the pastry. With clean hands, gently roll the sausage-edged pastry over itself, stopping just short of encasing it. With a sharp knife, cut the pastry dough along the side, leaving enough room to overlap just a little. Brush a strip of egg wash down the sausage side of the cut, and gently roll the pastry completely over, pressing gently to seal the edges together.
Carefully transfer the tube of pastry and sausage to the baking sheet. Make short cuts at 1-inch intervals along the top of the pastry (to release steam as it cooks), then cut through the tube to make individual pieces about 1 1/2 inches long. Pull apart gently to separate slightly. Repeat with another tube of pastry and sausage, until you fill the baking sheet.
(At this point, the sausage rolls can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated a day or two before baking. As if anyone plans ahead like that.)
Brush the tops of the rolls with egg wash. Place the filled baking sheet in the center of the preheated oven. Bake for about 35-40 minutes, or until the rolls are golden brown and the sausage is cooked through. This process always takes longer than I think it should, so keep an eye on the sausage rolls and check earlier in the baking time, in case yours cook more quickly than mine.
Transfer to a rack to cool for several minutes before serving.