Glamorgan sausages are first recorded in the 19th century, although I suspect that like many recipes had been around for much longer. Glamorgan sausages are skinless and don’t actually contain any meat, being a mixture of breadcrumbs and cheese.I am sure that any thrifty cook would have found these meatless sausages a bit of a frugal godsend, as well as being delicious.
George Burrow (a bit of a lively chap by all accounts) writing in the 1860s mentions a Glamorgan sausage, meat-free and made with a local Welsh cheese. He says that "it compares favourably with the sausages of Epping" although I had no idea what Essex has contributed to the world of sausages. However, a quick look through Florence White's Good Things in England, led me to a recipe from 1826 for these meaty, yet skinless sausages, which are flavoured with a mixture of sage, thyme, savory, marjoram, lemon, nutmeg and pepper. Which also makes me wonder why they declined in popularity as they sound rather nice.
However, the Glamorgan veggie sausage became very popular across Britain during World War II, obviously as it resonates thrift and frugality, with its use of leftover breadcrumbs and small nubs of cheese. But their frugal charms also seem to have fallen out of favour recently. This is a great shame as they are easy to make and very tasty.
This recipe, from the incomparable Jane Grigson's wonderful book English Food, is an excellent version. But I have always got a vast supply of breadcrumbs (since I make my own bread) and these are quick, easy and delicious.
Today is Saint David's Day and although it is chilly, spring is definitely in the air. I thought I would make some Glamorgan sausages to celebrate; I am not Welsh myself although my parents spent their honeymoon in north Wales . . . in January . . . and they say romance is dead . . .
I adore these tasty morsels, which make a brilliant lunch or light supper served with a light onion gravy and mashed potato. I like them in summer too with a light tomato salad. Actually they make a great savoury, party food and I am rather partial to them for breakfast.
Skill level: Easy
Preparation time: 1 hour (including optional chilling time)
ingredients:3 tbsp vegetable oil (preferable sunflower oil) or about 30-50g butter
200g fresh or dried breadcrumbs, 50g of which are for coating the sausages
150g Caerphilly or Lancashire cheese, finely crumbled. (I have used a sour Turkish cheese too as well as a strong cheddar. Goat's cheese would be excellent too. Time to experiment, I suspect).
6 x spring onions or ½ leek or 1 x shallot, very finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
2 x large eggs (or 3 x medium)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1½ tsp mustard (English or Dijon; you could use about 1 tsp of mustard powder)
2-3 tbsp milk
- Mix together 150g of the breadcrumbs (save 50g or so in order to coat the sausages) in a bowl with the cheese, spring onions (or leek), parsley, thyme and salt and freshly ground pepper. Make sure that it is mixed together well. Seasoning will depend on how salty the cheese is.
- Lightly beat the eggs with the mustard. Set aside about 2 tablespoons of the egg mixture in order to coat the sausages later. Stir the rest of the egg mixture into the cheesy breadcrumbs. If the mixture is too dry add a little milk, but don’t let the mixture become too runny. If it is too runny, add more breadcrumbs!
- Divide the mixture into about 8 balls (although you may get more) and then shape each into a long sausage shape (about 8cm long and 2½cm long. You will probably need to do this by partially rolling the mixture on a hard clean surface (I use a breadboard) and shaping them to keep them together as they will be a bit fragile and prone to falling apart.
- Put the egg mixture in a shallow bowl; put the leftover breadcrumbs on a plate.
- Take each sausage and dip it in the egg mixture and then roll in the crumbs.
- Chill the sausages in the fridge for about 30 minutes, to firm them up before cooking.
- Fry the sausages in the oil or butter. To fry the sausage, heat the butter or oil in the frying pan for 5 minutes, Turn half way through. Turn the heat down and continue to fry for another 3 minutes.
- These sausages can be grilled. Drizzle with a little melted butter and grill under a preheated grill until brown on all sides. Be careful when turning them.
- Bind with egg as above, but use it all. Use a beaten an egg white to roll the sausages in before coating with breadcrumbs. It helps the breadcrumbs stick effectively and gives a nice crunchy texture.
- I quite often add leftover pasta sauce to the mix as well - essentially the basic recipe made with the addition of Bolognese sauce and Parmesan cheese, which I call Boum-boum sausages.
- I recently used some Gorgonzola blue cheese instead of Caerphilly. The blue cheese needed using up as frankly if it had spent any longer in the fridge, it would have found a way to open the fridge door from the inside out! The end result was truly amazing, almost meaty tasting!