Simple, Fatty Christmas Goodness… A Little Bit Early (Sausage Rolls)

November 29, 2010 | By | COMMENTS

Simple, Fatty Christmas Goodness... A Little Bit Early (Sausage Rolls) 1
As I sat eating breakfast at a rather lovely hotel in Milwaukee this past Thanksgiving weekend, my eardrums were assailed by what I now realize is quite possibly the most annoying traditional Christmas carol in history: Deck the Halls. The fa-la-la-la-las are excruciatingly painful in their repetitiveness and, in the context of the song, seem remarkably ridiculous.

But, since one should attempt to look for the silver lining in all things, I started to think about the Christmas phrases that don’t seem akin to nails on a chalkboard (I admit I’m probably being a little harsh on poor Deck the Halls but after four days of constant Christmas music, I feel entitled to a little bitterness). And, in my family, the phrase that seems most oft repeated come Christmas time is “Mmmmm, sausage rolls.” Now, the spelling does not do justice to the manner in which that phrase is uttered; it lingers on the tongue, as though one were savoring the fatty, flaky goodness of the puff pastry and the equally fatty, spicy-sweetness of the maple flavored sausage links.
What is truly amazing is that in two bites (one if you happen to be a male prone to late-night parties, even later waking hours, and occasionally final exams), a whole host of Christmas memories come flooding forward, linking past and present in delicious happiness. The making of sausage rolls on Christmas morning began with my British maternal grandmother. She used puff pastry sheets just as I do now, but she would always buy the uncooked sausage links (sans maple syrup) and cook them on the stove before baking the tiny rolls in the oven. As my grandmother got older and eventually passed away, my mom carried on the tradition and for the longest time, she too would buy the uncooked sausage links to make the sausage rolls. There was no recipe for these little goodies; everything about the simple recipe had been committed to memory. But, when my mother died when I was 15, the lack of recipe and the fuzzy notion of what we were supposed to do to make them necessitated an ingenious stroke of laziness/absence of cooking expertise on my dad’s part: pre-cooked maple flavored sausage links. Now, admittedly, I could have asked my aunt what the “correct” way to make the links was, but she was so kindly insistent that I carry on the tradition for my mom that I shied away from such questioning and scoured the internet for appropriate baking temperatures for puff pastry and proper edge-sealing techniques.
So now, every Christmas morning, before the boys and my dad have even begun to empty their brains of visions of dancing sugar plums, I defrost the puff pastry, partially nuke the sausages, and bake the simplified sausage rolls to golden-brown perfection. The crackling of the fat on the baking sheet and the savory smell of buttery, maple sausage wafting through the kitchen are as much a part of the sounds and smells of Christmas as jingle bells and hot chocolate. And as the little bundles of yumminess cook, I imagine my grandmother and mom lovingly snarking about my short-cut sausage rolls. But I know the short-cut just makes them my own… and the disappearing act which the sausage rolls pull once the boys (my dad included) have arisen (and trust me, the 48 rolls are all but consumed by the time the presents are unwrapped) is proof enough that my version of our Christmas morning treat is just as good (and to be perfectly honest, I think they happen to be just that much better.)
(Yes, I do realize that it’s still only November, but again, FOUR DAYS of Christmas music!)

Categories: Cooking Stories