To me sausages are a bit of a strange commodity. They tend to be at either one end of the scale or the other – cheap nasty brand/supermarket trash (I’m always inclined to think of off-cuts and less delicious parts of an animal for these) or superb, hand-crafted sausages from the butchers. When it comes to the latter of these I quite enjoy when there is something more to the sausage than plain old pork – if it’s to really stand out it needs to be more original.
This is the point at which we cut to me standing ogling (and trying not to drool. too much.) at the sausage counter in Crombies of Edinburgh. If you know food in Edinburgh then it’s likely that you’re aware of this wonderful butchers – Crombies is something of an Edinburgh institution, which is why when I was asked if I’d sample some of their sausages and create a recipe around it I happily agreed. I got a little over-excited in the shop though and when asked if I wanted one type or a variety I opted for the selection. It was only when I got home I realised that I had created a bit of a quandary for myself in that I was really going to struggle to make a dish that did justice for each flavour.
Never one to be defeated, I enlisted the help of my flatmate and we channelled our inner Mary Berry (we felt she’d appreciate the innuendo minefield that is a sausage tasting) and embarked on sampling the flavours and generally having the most fun we’ve had eating dinner in ages.
Our Crombies contenders were ‘Pork & Edinburgh Ale’, the ‘Wine Merchant’, ‘Rum & Ale’, ‘Pork, Spicy Mango & Ginger’, and the ‘One O’Clock Banger’. Quite a diverse collection, we got stuck in accompanied by a posse of balsamic roast veg and a spiced sweet potato mash.
Naturally we couldn’t decide on a winner, but hearty meaty taste and accompanying bang of chilli put the One O’Clock Banger on top, tied with the delicious lingering flavour of the Pork & Edinburgh Ale. Both, we felt, merited a delicious amount of mash to go with them.
In fact, we liked all of them. Perhaps the Pork, Spicy Mango & Ginger could have had a little more spiced-ness and the Wine Merchant be a little less of an indulgence, but in all honesty we had to dig pretty deep to find any improvements and would have happily sat and eaten a full compliment of any of them. If you’re going anywhere near Crombies, I’d strongly suggest you pop in and see if you can resist buying everything on offer.
Crombies Sausages with Balsamic Roast Veg & Spicy Sweet Potato
This recipe is an original to The Usual Saucepans, featuring some delicious Crombies sausages, who can be found on Broughton St. in Edinburgh. It feeds two hungry people, with a few bits of leftover veg for a salad the next day.
1/2 a medium butternut squash
1/2 a red onion
2 small sweet potatoes
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp milk
Salt & pepper
To begin with roughly chop your peppers, onion and butternut squash (remember to peel the latter) and arrange them on a non-stick, or foil-lined, tray. In a small bowl mix together the rapeseed oil (use olive oil if you don’t have any), balsamic vinegar, mustard and the fennel seeds, then drizzle evenly over your chopped veg, add a little salt and pepper on top to season and shake to ensure everything is fully covered. Allow this to sit for at least half an hour (a couple of hours is even better).
For the mash, peel and dice up your sweet potatoes and boil them in salted water until they are soft (exact timings will depend on how small you chop them!). Once they are cooked and soft, drain them and transfer to a bow. Grind in some pepper then add the smoked paprika and the knob of butter (the 10g is an approximation if you really want to measure it), allow it to melt a little and then mash. If the mixture does not feel like it is becoming smooth add in the mild (this is an optional step). Use a fork to mix it all up so that it is smooth and creamy – taste it to see if it needs any more seasoning or paprika, but remember the paprika flavour will build over time.
Once rested, roast your veg in the oven for 20-30 minutes at 180°C, or until they are roasted and slightly turning at the edges. At the same time grill your sausages, remembering to prick them slightly first to allow any air and steam to escape.
When you’re ready to serve try to remember what order the sausages are under the grill in (if using multiple types), or like me have a bit of paper stuck to the fridge door.
Our sausages were kindly proved to us by Crombies, but as always this had no bearing on the positive review, they’re genuinely just delicious.