|a splendid sausage sandwich|
For me it is all about the rugby. I am reminded of it this weekend - the penultimate weekend of the Rugby 6 Nations tournament. It's going to be a pretty nail-biting weekend, particularly if you're Welsh. Will they sew up the Triple Crown today? And more importantly, will they beat France next week to win the Championship trophy and the Grand Slam? (I have mixed feelings! It depends on whether England can beat France tomorrow!) Honestly, my fingers are ragged. But while the tournament is of course about a fabulous game, in my family it was also about the sandwich.
I was reminded of this last weekend, having gone to visit my aged parent, Henry, in Yorkshire. Knowing that I was visiting for the weekend, he had been to Bingley Market to get in supplies. (He very kindly lets me do all the cooking when I visit!) He had visited Graham the Fish Man and Tim the Pie Man, my two favourite purveyors in the market, who sell simply sublime fresh food. This last week my father's loot included some meaty butcher’s sausages from Tim’s market stall.
My family came back to live in England when I was eleven years old: it was at the beginning of what was then the Rugby 5 Nations. Actually I didn't know much about sport in those days. I thought that if the team wore white shirts then they would lose and if they wore red that they usually won. It didn't take long from the ridicule I received from my father and little brother for me to learn the stupidity of this belief! It turns out that this was because Wales were in the ascendancy and England, well, weren't. But my father forgave all of this. His joy of rugby was that of the true lover of the game.
Henry supported England but also Ireland (his parents were Irish). He had grown up in Wales so they were alright, and had spent his honeymoon there (in January. Which shows commitment, if nothing else).. He was married to a Scot, so he admired Scotland (not that he had much choice if my mother had her way). He would even have nice things to say about the French, particularly if they were playing one of the southern hemisphere teams. Actually, he just loved and loves the game when it is played really well and it really doesn't matter who wins. The enthusiasm and exuberance was always there. He would sit on the edge of his seat, eyes full of mischief, slapping his knees with enthusiasm and getting crumbs all over himself and the furniture as he wolfed down one of my mother's bacon or sausage sarnies.
Last weekend during the Ireland-France match was a case in point. It was a thrilling game; going right down to the wire. And my father's enthusiasm is as infectious now, at the age of 81, as it was all those years ago. And he still loves his rugby sandwiches. He looked mournful, when I suggested a pre-match sandwich. "No, Darling" he said, sucking in his stomach, trying to look like a man who could deny himself the simple pleasures in life. "No, these days, I don't have much for lunch. Perhaps a small bowl of soup and a biscuit." Well he didn't fool me and since he had these lovely herby pork sausages and a loaf of artisan bread from Tim the Pie Man, I set about making him the perfect accompaniment for an exciting game of rugby.
So if you should find yourself this weekend, in front of the telly, but at a loss as to what is the best food to eat during an international rugby match, may I suggest a simply spendid sausage sandwich?
Skill level: Easy
4 thick good-quality sausages
1-2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 large bread rolls, (such as sourdough or ciabatta, or soft floury baps), warmed through and split open
1 x large tomato
a splash of Lea + Perrins Worcestershire sauce (or if in Yorkshire, Henderson's Relish of course!)
a handful of wild rocket leaves (optional)
1 x small red onion, thinly sliced (optional)
- Preheat the grill to medium.
- Grill the sausages for about 10 minutes, turning every now and then. Split them open and grill for a further 5 minutes, then set aside. (Actually these are even better if you fry them on a very gentle heat for about 20 minutes and then split and grill them!)
- I save some of the fat from the tomatoes and usually coat the tomato slices in this before grilling, The tomatoes can be put on to grill with the sausages but they won’t take as long to cook.
- Combine the mayonnaise and Dijon mustard. Season with pepper.
- Warm the rolls through, halve and smear with a generous smear of mustard mayonnaise.
- Add a layer of grilled tomatoes and a good splash of Worcestershire sauce on each half of the bread.
- Pile high with slices of sausage.
- Add a little of the rocket and red onion if using. Top with the other half of the roll and serve immediately, with plenty of napkins or perhaps bibs!