St David’s Day approaches. I’ve been marking just about every high day and holiday that I possibly can recently, in a bid to differentiate my lockdown days. But with a Welsh husband and Welsh in-laws, I don’t need any extra encouragement to celebrate St David’s Day. Joining the obligatory Welsh cakes, and possibly some bara brith, this year is the Glamorgan sausage.
If you’re thinking ‘what the hell is a Glamorgan sausage?’, then come over and join me in my corner, it’s cosy here, and we have snacks. I confess that when I first decided to make glamorgan sausages, I wasn’t 100 per cent sure what they actually were.
It’s a vegetarian sausage, but not the Linda McCartney variety. They’re sausages in the technical sense, in that they’re sausage-shaped, and they have a filling kept in place by a casing, but they’re much closer to a Spanish croquette than a banger or a frankfurter. In place of the bechamel you find in a croquette is Welsh cheese – lots of Welsh cheese – along with breadcrumbs, leeks, and some herbs and seasonings, and it’s then coated in more breadcrumbs, which are fried until crunchy.
In its earliest incarnation, the sausage was a more traditional one, containing pork meat, but during the meat shortages of the second world war, it became something quite different. Named after the historic county of Glamorgan, the sausage originally used Glamorgan cheese, but the near extinction of the Glamorgan dairy herd put an end to that, so the nearby Caerphilly cheese tends to be used instead. For the aforementioned reason, I’ve never tasted Glamorgan cheese, but Caerphilly is excellent here: crumbly, almost bright white, and with a slight sourness for a cow’s cheese. It melts beautifully, which makes it perfect for the Glamorgan sausage, which should be a little gooey when warm.
The leeks are cooked slowly until soft, sweet and gentle, before being blended with the cheese, breadcrumbs, an egg yolk, and a little seasoning and herbs. Divided and shaped into sausages, they’re rolled in flour, egg white and breadcrumbs, and fried until crisp and crunchy. Just to be really awkward, I use different breadcrumbs for the filling and the coating – Japanese panko breadcrumbs are particularly crunchy when fried – but it’s not essential. The sausages also reheat really well in a medium-hot oven for ten minutes, so that when broken into, the cheese oozes irresistibly.
Takes: 15 minutes, plus chilling
Bakes: 10 minutes
1 leek, trimmed and sliced finely
150g caerphilly, crumbled
1 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped
100g white breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon mustard (any mustard is fine)
2 eggs, separated
50g panko breadcrumbs
Oil, for frying
- Melt the butter in a pan and cook the leeks over a low heat, stirring occasionally, until they are soft and translucent, but haven’t taken on any colour.
- Put the cooked leeks, cheese, egg yolks, mustard, parsley and breadcrumbs in a bowl and, using a wooden spoon or a spatula, beat them together well, and season generously with salt and pepper. Divide the mixture into six and, using damp hands, gently roll each portion into a squat, sausage shape.
- Put the flour, egg whites, and panko breadcrumbs in three separate saucers. Roll each sausage first in the flour, then in the egg whites, and finally in the breadcrumbs, then transfer to a lined baking tray, and chill for 30 minutes.
- Pour enough oil into a frying pan to create a thin layer in the base of the pan, and heat until the oil is shimmering.
- Transfer the chilled sausages to the pan, and cook for 10 minutes, turning regularly, to ensure that each side turns golden, and creates a firm crust. Serve warm.