This column first appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald’s Domain magazine.
Generosity and hospitality are common themes in country cooking. And maybe its because I didn’t grow up in this environment, but I’m always amazed by the speed with which food is produced as soon as someone looks hungry in a country kitchen. A sandwich, piece of cake or biscuits appear from nowhere and it seems like the kettle is always on.
I love this easy generosity. I love that because shops are generally a fair drive away, kitchens are well stocked and ready to whip up any manner of sustenance. And I love the tradition of smoko.
Smoko is a substantial snack and rest break in the middle of a morning (or afternoon’s) work. Usually there’s something hot to eat and a big pot of tea to share. I’ve a friend who lives on her family farm west of Broken Hill and every day they make enormous trays of muffins, sausage rolls and quiches for 9am smoko – this is to feed the shearing crews who have been going since 5am so yes they are starving by then.
Here on our farm, somewhat further east, smoko is more of an early lunch. Or bribery to keep everyone working just a little longer. And these sausage rolls always do the trick.
Make up a double batch and freeze them (un-cooked) in long logs ready to bake from frozen and you too will be ready to feed the hungry hoards in minutes. Lesson two in tree-changing is complete.
Apple, pork and fennel sausage rolls
Prep time 20 mins
Cook time 35 mins
These sausage rolls would of course, be excellent for lunch, smoko break or dinner. If the former or latter, I’d just serve them with a nice big salad full of peppery greens. And either way, with a spicy tomato chutney like this one below.
1 tsp fennel seeds
2 Granny Smith apples, cut into small pieces
1 red onion, peeled and diced
500g pork mince
2 tbsp thyme leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
3 sheets butter puff pastry, thawed
2 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tsp sea salt
Place the butter in a heavy-based frying pan on medium-high heat. Once melted, add 3/4 of the fennel seeds and the apple pieces, then cook for a few minutes, or until softened. Reduce heat to low, add the red onion and cook, stirring often for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Preheat oven to 200C and line a baking tray with parchment paper. In a large bowl, mix together the pork, thyme, salt and pepper and cooled apple/onion mixture. Take a third of this and place it on one of the thawed puff pastry sheets, making a sausage shape along the bottom third of the sheet. Roll as tightly as you can to create one long sausage. Repeat with remaining pastry and pork mixture.
If freezing the rolls at this point, wrap in plastic and pop in the freezer. Otherwise, onwards! Break the egg into a small bowl and whisk yolks and white together. Using a pastry brush (or your fingers if you don’t have one), brush the egg over each sausage roll then sprinkle with the sesame seeds, sea salt and remaining fennel seeds.
Bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm or room temperature with the quick tomato chutney.
Quick tomato chutney
Cut up 1kg tomatoes and 4 red onions. Combine in a big pot over medium heat, add 1 1/4 cups brown sugar, 2 de-seeded and chopped birds eye chillies (or to taste), 1 tbsp sea salt and 2/3 cup apple cider vinegar. Bring to the boil and cook, stirring often (so you don’t burn the bottom of your pot) for about 40 minutes or until mixture is thick and glossy. Divide between sterilised jars. Makes about 4 cups.
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