The English Banger is an essential part of a traditional UK breakfast. While the breakfast itself has no rules as to the type of sausage offered, Bangers are very traditional, as is the blood sausage/pudding or Boudin Noir. Although mainly served at breakfast, they are also featured at lunch with rich onion gravy or as a snack with a good, stout English mustard.
Sausage making in the UK goes back to Roman times (approximately 400 C.E.). ‘Banger’ is a colloquial term for this particular sausage. Legend has it that during the meat shortages of WWI, sausages often had more stock and fillers included in them. When cooked in a hot pan, the water turned to steam and the sausages exploded thus giving us the name ‘Bangers’.
During a recent sausage making class at my home, we made up a batch of English Bangers. I have it on good authority by our resident Welshman, that these are indeed some of the best he’s ever had outside the UK. It’s super easy to do, but a little time consuming. I’ve broken down the steps to make this recipe as easy as possible. It will yield about five pounds of sausage and freezes remarkably well.
*Special equipment needed! You will need a meat grinder and sausage stuffer to make homemade sausage.
Special Equipment: If you wish to grind and stuff your own meats for making sausage and you have a KitchenAid mixer try the Gvode Metal Food Grinder Attachment. There is a less expensive plastic version KitchenAid FGA Food Grinder Attachment, which works but is prone to cracking under heavy use. If you wish a dedicated meat grinding machine try Altra Stainless Steel Meat Mincer and Stuffer, this is a fine machine for the money.
Traditional English Bangers
- 2 1/2 lbs pork, butts/shoulder-cut off the bone or purchase boneless cut into 1 inch cubes
- 2 1/2 lbs veal, whole or ground (optional, you can use all ground pork)
- 1 cup bread, (white) crumbs
- 5 tsp sage, rubbed
- 4 tsp kosher salt sea salt (Maldon) is a great substitution
- 1 1/2 tsp black ground pepper
- 1/2 tsp mace, freshly grated is best but ground will do
- 1/2 tsp marjoram, dried
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated is best but ground will do
- 1/2 tsp ginger, ground
- 1/2 tsp white ground pepper
First, prep the sausage casing per the instructions on the package. This usually requires soaking the sausage casings for about 1 hour prior to use.
Drain and add fresh water at least once during the soak, to remove excess salt and preservatives.
Hand trim the excess fat from the pork shoulder/butt if needed. Most of the commercially sold pork shoulders have already done this (see the images of the one I'm using). You want a bit of fat for the sausages to taste right. If it's too lean, the sausage will taste dry.
(If purchased from a boutique meat shop, you may need to trim the pork shoulder/butt. They may have left on the excess fat. This is not a bad thing. Leaving on the extra fat allows you to trim as needed and make your own pork renderings for other cooking projects.)
After you've cut the pork into cubes, lay them out in a single layer on a large sheet pan.
Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 15-20 minutes, until the meat is just frozen or 33-35 degrees.
Doing this will dramatically help with grinding. Room temperature pork will bind up in the grinding process. Keeping the fat cold will help the blades in the grinder work properly. Do the same thing if you are using whole veal.
Once the sausage meat is well chilled, work the pork through a grinder fitted with the large or coarse grind plate.
If you are making more than 5 lbs of sausage, you may need to periodically clean and freeze all metal parts of the sausage grinder to get the meat properly ground.
In a large mixing bowl, add the ground veal to the ground pork.
Next, add all of the seasonings and mix thoroughly. If it is a warm day, mix in a little crushed ice to help keep the meat cold.
For the second grind, switch to the fine plate and pass the sausage mixture through the grinder once again.
Set up the stuffer attachment and lube the horn before adding the rinsed sausage casing. Follow the instructions with your sausage stuffer.
Place a large sheet pan under the sausage stuffer with a little water in it. (The extra water will help the casings stay moist and pliable. As more and more of the sausage comes out you can start coiling the sausage on the sheet pan while while helping the link form out of the stuffer.)
Keep your thumb on the end of the stuffer and process through until you feel the sausage coming out. At that point stop the stuffer and pull out enough casing so you can tie a knot at the end.
Gently push the casing back onto the horn until the knot end is flush with the sausage beginning to come out.
Proceed stuffing the sausage while supporting the link as it fills out of the stuffer.
When you see the end of the casing approaching, stop the stuffer and remove the sausage link onto the sheet pan. Do not tie off the sausage just yet. You will need the extra little space when you form the links from the long coil of sausage.
Start with a new casing and repeat the process until all the sausage meat has been used.
After the sausage has been twisted into the desired link size, use a sausage pricker, ice pick, or toothpick and poke a few small holes along the length of the sausage links. This will allow steam to escape the sausage during cooking so that they won't burst.
To cook the sausages:
Heat about 2 tbsp of your favorite oil (avocado/vegetable) over medium heat in a heavy bottom skillet.
Carefully place the sausages in the oil. Check often to gauge the doneness of the sausage. The cooked side should be brown before turning to the other side.
Once both sides of the sausage are browned, and the sausage is firm to the touch, they should be good to eat. (You can check the internal temperature with an instant read thermometer. It should be 160 or above.)
This recipe makes approximately 5lbs of sausage, so freeze the portions you are not going to eat in one week.
From my own experience, homemade sausage is eagerly accepted as gifts to friends and family.
Cook any refrigerated portions of sausage within 4-7 days of making them.