Go outdoors with the perfect picnic
A picnic isn’t just a meal outdoors, it is an event that is shrouded with sunshine, loved ones and delicious food. For once, this week the weather in Manchester has been sublime (famous last words…it’s only Thursday.) The trees are a bushy emerald green, the sun has been shining and the general mood of the people is chipper. So, we have made an executive decision; It’s time to get out in the sunshine and enjoy our green and pleasant land.
“Think quiche, leafy green salad, cured meat, French cheese and copious amounts of crusty bread.”
“Your old friend, the prolific pork sausage, paired with his sexy Spanish cousin chorizo, all wrapped up in delicious, flaky pastry.”
If you are a country bumpkin at heart like T, you will quickly realise that finding a serine spot in which to eat al-fresco may prove a little more difficult in central Manchester. Toto, we’re not in Cheshire anymore. But, we promise you, they are there if you are willing to persist and look past the concrete. Chorlton Water Park is a beautiful area of reformed farmland and woodland situated around a reservoir. It is only a shocking five miles out of town, and it is safe to say it’s definitely one of Manchester’s best kept secrets. Other than there, a recent cycling adventure brought us upon Debdale Park, which was a great find and a little further afield would be the sprawling landscape of Dovestones quarry and reservoir outside Oldham, which will take your breath away.
Enough of that, who’s hungry?
Picnic food is really its own genre. The challenge? What can withstand the muggy conditions of the interior of a picnic basket for God knows how long before it’s consumption… Anything that is ideally served cold is a no-no. There is nothing worse than lukewarm dairy products on the verge of sweating. Temperature is key; food is ideally shareable and easy passed around by greedy hands as well as being fresh, light and summery. Think quiche, leafy green salad, cured meat, French cheese and copious amounts of crusty bread.
For the recipe this week, we went for a picnic classic, sausage rolls. However, it wouldn’t feel right if we went totally traditional… that’s just not our style. It seems we are feeling rather inspired by European cuisine at the moment, as these have a little Spanish flair from the inclusion of Chorizo. What’s not to love? Your old friend, the prolific pork sausage, paired with his sexy Spanish cousin chorizo, all wrapped up in delicious, flaky pastry.
The oil in the chorizo makes these go a fabulous deep, rich colour, and it seeps through filling each layer with flavour. They are topped with black pepper, chilli flakes and fennel seeds which goes so well with the punchy flavours of the Spanish cured meat. Eat them hot or cold on your picnic and serve with spiced tomato chutney for a little added sweetness.
In future weeks, and you can hold us to this one, we are going to give you a pastry masterclass, but until then, “rough-puff” is your new best friend. It’s sort of a cheat, but it isn’t like you are going to have Paul Hollywood scowling over your shoulder. Rough puff is basically quick puff pastry, which in comparison, takes literally days to make properly. It is slightly more robust and thicker, but still with a lovely flake and crumble.
Go forth into the big outdoors this weekend, it won’t bite, unless you sit on an ants nest. Just don’t forget to pack your hamper, and some fizz.
See you next Thursday,
Chorizo and fennel seed sausage rolls with “Rough-puff” pastry
12 sausage rolls, or two plaits
250g strong plain flour
Pinch of salt
250g chilled unsalted butter
150ml iced water
8 good quality pork sausages
250g cooking chorizo
1 tbs. fennel seeds
1 tsp. chilli flakes
Pinch black pepper
1 egg beaten
For the pastry, sift the flour and salt in a large bowl. With your hands, break the butter up into large chunks and rub it into the flour loosely. Make a well (so its looks like a volcano) in the middle of the flour/butter mix and pour the water in a little at a time. Mix until it starts to come together into a dough. It should be marbled with big chunks of butter. Cover with cling film and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
On a floured surface, shape the pastry into a rectangle with your hands. Roll out gently to 2cm thickness. Fold the top third to the middle of the rectangle, and again on the bottom third. This is called a ‘turn’. Fold the pastry in half, cover in cling film and chill for 20 minutes. After this time, roll out the pastry to 2cm thickness and repeat the ‘turning’ process, making sure to chill for 20 minutes in between each turn. The pastry will need four turns.
Meanwhile make the filling. Squeeze out the contents of the sausages into a bowl and break up the chorizo, season with pepper and mix. Roll out the pastry to 5-10mm thickness on a floured surface. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
For the sausage rolls: Cut the pastry into two long oblongs, roughly 24cm x 10cm. Place a generous line of sausage filling along the right-hand side of the pastry. Roll into a long cigar, using a little egg wash to stick it together. Brush the top with egg and sprinkle with fennel seeds, black pepper and chilli flakes. Chop into three inch pieces and place on a lined baking tray. Bake for 30 minutes or until puffed up, crisp and golden.
For the plait: Cut a rectangle of pastry 15cm x 24cm. Place a generous amount of sausage filling down the centre. Cut lines about 3 inches long diagonally going up the pastry on both the left and right sides, creating flaps. Take the flaps on matching sides and meet them in the middle on top of the filling. Do this all the way up and you should get a herringbone effect. Gently brush with egg, and sprinkle with pepper, fennel seeds, and chilli flakes. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.