One of the reasons I love teaching sausage-making classes is that I often learn something from the students.
There was a time when I assumed “banger” was just the British dialect word for sausage, and that it didn’t necessarily imply anything about the ingredients or technique any more than “sausage” would in North America. Turns out that is not quite true. One Scottish student of mine asked where he could procure the rusk necessary to make bangers. I had never heard of rusk. The word can refer to two different things: sliced bread that has been baked or toasted until crispy throughout (like a Melba toast), or crumbs that have been made from such a bread.
I have eschewed “fillers” for my entire sausage-making career. But regardless of why rusk has become so commonplace in British sausage-making (is it a legacy of war-time rationing and post-war austerity?) it has become an essential component in the minds and mouths of the British people. You’ll find it in almost every British sausage, including the famous Cumberland and Lincolnshire varieties. In Heston Blumenthal’s book In Search of Perfection he takes great pains to make sure the flavour and texture of bread come through in his perfect banger.
Many classic recipes call for 20% of the total mixture being rusk (ie. 200 g rusk for every 800 g meat). I use fine bread crumbs instead of authentic rusk, and I’ve opted for 10% (100 g bread crumb for every 900 g meat). And since my breadcrumbs already contain salt I’ve calculated by salt weight at 1.5% of the weight of the meat and fat. If using un-salted rusk you will have to increase the salt in the recipe below.
When I finally tasted my first batch I realized that this was the exact type of sausage meat that was in the sausage rolls of my youth. Post forthcoming. I imagine this mix would also be fantastic in Scotch eggs.
The breadcrumbs disrupt the protein network, a little like how fat disrupts the gluten network in flour doughs, so these bangers don’t have the cohesive “spring” that I demand from bratwurst and most other sausages.
- 900 g pork butt, roughly 1:3 fat to lean, cut into 1″ cubes
- 100 g fine bread crumbs, toasted till a deep golden brown
- 13.5 g kosher salt
- 2.0 g black pepper
- 2.0 g white pepper
- 1.5 g mace
- 0.5 g nutmeg, freshly grated
- 100 g cold water
- Thoroughly chill and grind the meat and fat using a 3/16″ plate. Detailed procedures for chilling and grinding can be found in this post.
- Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix with a paddle attachment on low speed for 60 seconds.
- Stuff into 32-35 hog casings. Twist into 5″ links.
Yield: English Bangers