Last year, I was all about the quick and easy sausage rolls. This year, I have about a third of the spare time and yet I’m spending it caramelising onions with whisky. Such is the power of procrastination. Still, they’re no bother once you get them on and I’m definitely going to make a massive batch next time, to add to pies, sandwiches and, ooh! HOTDOGS!
Anyway, they’re incredible in these sausage rolls too, together with re-plumped dried apricots and a good pinch of chipotle chilli flakes to play off that smoky thing going on with the whisky. At first I was worried the rolls might be a little on the sweet side with the onions and fruit but god damn if they weren’t just plain sexy. So sexy in fact that we ate all 12 between the two of us in the space of a few hours and the boyfriend claimed they were the best sausage rolls he’s ever eaten. High praise indeed.
Sausage Rolls with Whisky-caramelised Onions and Apricots (makes about 12)
3 regular, brown-skinned onions, chopped in half and sliced
500g good quality plain sausage meat
A good slosh of whisky (I mean generous)
12 dried apricots
320g pack ready-rolled puff pastry
1 generous teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
A generous pinch of chipotle flakes
1 egg, beaten
Butter, for caramelising the onions
First, make the onions. Melt the butter in a large pan and add the onions plus a good pinch of salt, tossing them around to coat them evenly. Set the pan to the lowest heat and put a lid on, leaving a small gap at one side. Let the onions cook down for at least an hour but preferably longer, stirring occasionally. They’re ready when they’re very soft, golden and not too wet. At this stage, turn up the heat and add a really good slosh of whisky (the amount you add obviously depends on how much you want them to taste of whisky) and let it bubble down until there’s almost no liquid left. The onions are now ready, so set them aside on a plate to cool completely (this happens faster if you spread them out in a thin layer).
Soak the apricots in warm water for 20 minutes or so, then dice them. When you’re ready to make the sausage rolls and the onions are cool, preheat the oven to 200C. Give the onions a quick chop then add them to the sausagemeat mix, along with the thyme leaves, chipotle flakes, the apricots and a good seasoning of salt and pepper. Preheat a frying pan and make a tiny patty from the sausage meat mixture; fry it in the oil and taste it for seasoning. You may want to add more salt or chilli, depending on how it tastes.
When you’re satisfied with the mix, unwrap the pastry and lay it out on a lightly floured surface. It should be almost the right size, but I like to roll it out just a tiny bit thinner, making it easier to wrap around the meat. Cut the rectangle into two, lengthways, then make two long sausages with the meat down the centre of each strip of pastry. Brush one side of each pastry strip with the beaten egg, then fold each one over to make two long sausage rolls. Cut into two inch pieces and snip each twice in the stop, using scissors. Brush each with more beaten egg and cook on a baking tray for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through.