My Lincs links

Our home chef of the year cooks up a storm at the Big Nor­folk Sausage Bash


This month’s col­umn re­sults from the first of two in­vi­ta­tions I have re­cently re­ceived from Nor­folk food cham­pion Char­lie Hod­son. On the best day in May weather-wise so far, I am mak­ing my way to Aylsham to pro­vide a cook­ing demon­stra­tion at The Big Nor­folk Sausage Bash.

The mar­ket place is crammed with peo­ple en­joy­ing the sun, the sausages and many other stalls, in­clud­ing cur­ries, ve­gan of­fer­ings and var­i­ous Nor­folk-based drinks com­pa­nies. The Black Boys Ho­tel out­side bar is also do­ing a great trade. So why is it that when I take to the stage, I am not cook­ing with good old Nor­folk sausages? The an­swer is I was do­ing as I was told.

The host’s culi­nary feel­ers reach far and wide. Char­lie won the na­tional sausage roll prize in 2017 and to­day, I share the demon­strat­ing bill with the cur­rent cham­pion, Adrian Oliver, who has trav­elled from Ply­mouth.

I was there­fore asked to give an­other geo­graph­i­cal di­men­sion to our favourite porky treat and I didn’t need ask­ing twice to pop over the bor­der to my roots in south Lin­colnshire.

My butch­ery of choice, which I visit when I can, is G Shearer & Son in Hol­beach. It has been in busi­ness since 1974 although its sausage recipe goes back over 100 years.

While all Lin­colnshire sausages fea­ture sage heav­ily, the ex­act mix of in­gre­di­ents is a close­ly­guarded se­cret and when recipes do come up for sale, they change hands for sig­nif­i­cant money. I am served by man­ager Ben Tin­dale with Mark Shearer with two other staff mem­bers in at­ten­dance. Busi­ness, even at 8am on a Satur­day, is brisk.

Back in Aylsham, I’m on stage af­ter Tim Allen, a pig farmer from South Creake. His knowl­edge is awe­some and his wit as dry as pig skin should be for that all im­por­tant crack­ling. An­other Nor­folk food hero, whose pork I have eaten many times with gusto.

My dish – per­haps not the most

apt for what feels like the height of sum­mer – is my creamy, cheesy, spicy sausage pasta. I’ve made the tagli­atelle the day be­fore, on my re­turn to Nor­folk, my home county for the last 26 years with 300g of 00 flour, three eggs and a hand­ful of chopped oregano. Pretty sim­ple.

The sauce prep starts with fry­ing off an onion and gar­lic clove. I then de-skin six of Lin­colnshire’s finest, which take the veg­eta­bles’ place in the fry­ing pan. Their crumbly na­ture helps me get a good brown­ing. Af­ter I have loos­ened the pieces into some­thing re­sem­bling a coarse mince, I de-glaze with a big slug of ver­mouth. It’s then a mat­ter of adding basil, mas­car­pone, Dol­celatte, sin­gle cream and some dried chilli. A la­dle or two of the pasta wa­ter, (the pasta takes around 12 min­utes to cook) and we’re there, sub­ject to a fi­nal sprin­kling of more basil and a few Parme­san shav­ings.

I didn’t say this was go­ing to make you any friends at your lo­cal WeightWatc­h­ers club, but if you have earned a treat, this, in my hum­ble opin­ion, is sausage heaven...

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In­sta­gram @ nor­folkhome­chef2018

ABOVE: Mark in full-on cook­ery ac­tion in Aylsham

BE­LOW: At Shear­ers, the source of the chef’s sausages of choice

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