France is big on the potted meats, as you are probably aware, and never more so than at Christmas. This time a year ago, I was complaining about the sheer amount of meat I’d been guzzling. I can’t say the same for this year though, and that is because I’ve been trying out an anti-inflammatory diet (a half-hearted one, there has been cheese fondue). Yes, I started a healthy meal plan at Christmas. No, I don’t think I’m insane. Anyway, no one wants to hear about anti-inflammatory diets NOW, so I’ll save it for #newyearnewme, and instead focus on the food that at one point veered me off my virtuous course – the best pigs in blankets I’ve ever eaten. Considering how resistant I’ve been to temptation lately – as in, guys, I’ve been choking down Lidl rye bread and haven’t touched a baguette in weeks – a cheeky sausage wrapped in bacon shouldn’t be an issue.
Last December, it was my friend’s 40th and for her birthday party she suggested a pot luck where everyone could bring a dish from their home country. Toulouse is home to a huge number of internationals, and my friend – who is Mexican herself – was excited to have tables laden with foods from around the world, symbolising us all.
When it came to my contribution from the UK, I was stumped. British food is without a doubt one of the most maligned cuisines in the world. If you can think of another that is as ridiculed, please let me know, but the Brits didn’t make a good name for themselves back in the day with the likes of jellied eels and the still-favoured side for fish and chips, mushy peas. Of course, anyone who has any sense knows that British food isn’t all about haggis and Marmite – nowadays, just dare to breathe such a question online about why British food tastes so bad and you’ll be cowering behind your keyboard. Even so, I was still uncertain – what easy yet delicious British party food could I take that would make everyone in attendance realise that British food is so much more than the cruel rumours?
What else other than the ultimate pigs in blankets?
What makes them ‘the ultimate pigs in blankets’ you may ask?
In the US, pigs in blankets are cute little sausages wrapped in pastry, basically a quick sausage roll. In the UK, pigs in blankets are sausages wrapped in streaky bacon – a kind of pork on pork situation. If you ever thought that there wasn’t enough pork in a chipolata, don’t worry, pigs in blankets have got you covered.
Typically, pigs in blankets are made with little chipolata sausages, dinky and child-friendly. However, for this pot luck in question, I searched the sausage chiller cabinets at my local supermarket to no avail – the French clearly don’t see the point in a bite-sized sausage.
So, what could I do other than make jumbo pigs in blankets?
And rather than just wrap some bacon around a sausage and bung it in the oven, a few extra ingredients were incorporated to take these pigs in blankets to the ‘ultimate’ stratosphere.
Jamie Oliver’s recipe was the one I reached for, as he not only sprinkles fresh woody herbs – whether it’s thyme or rosemary – on the inside of that bacon layer, but also deglazes the hot pan in Worcestershire sauce. You may have thought sausages and bacon were already savoury enough, but no, just add the funky umami of Worcestershire sauce and you’ll see what it’s been missing all this time. Finally drizzle these ultimate pigs in blankets in honey as you caramelise them in a frying pan. Each piggie glistens in a sticky Worcestershire-honey glaze.
Last year, I put all these bacon-wrapped sausages in a plastic tub and took them and a bottle of Baileys to my friends’ house. (The Baileys is an inside joke.) (Also I love Baileys.) I piled the ultimate pigs in blankets up, all sticky and caramelised, onto a flimsy paper plate and put them on the coffee table. Eventually, not that I had been watching or anything, someone picked up a sausage and took a bite. Her eyes widened. ‘Who brought these?’ she asked. Gaylord pointed at me. Her mouth full, eyes still round in surprise, she managed to mumble, mouth full, ‘They’re so good!’
My dearest wish had been fulfilled. A British Christmas snack that everyone will love. (Except vegetarians.)
Merry Christmas everyone! xxx
The Ultimate Pigs in Blankets
- 6 large pork chipolata sausages
- 6 slices of smoked streaky bacon
- A few sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce (there are gluten-free versions available if you are intolerant)
- 1 tbsp honey
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/400°F. Place the bacon on a chopping board and, using a knife, stretch it out so it is long and thin.
- Shred the thyme sprigs and sprinkle the leaves over the bacon strips.
- Twist the each bacon strip diagonally down each sausage and wrap it up tightly.
- Place them all in a baking tray and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden – turn them halfway through cooking.
- Remove the tray from the oven and pour over the tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce. Toss the sausages around to coat.
- Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat, and once hot, add the sausages. Pour over the honey and quickly fry until caramelised. Serve with your Christmas lunch or as a delicious side or sandwich filling because you deserve it.