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Jordan Ryan, head chef at The Weeping Willow, in Barrow near Bury St Edmunds, puts the pizazz into sausage rolls

And we’re back. I can’t believe I’m already sending out my next column, only feels like yesterday I wrote the last one. I hope you all enjoyed it, it’s been a very surreal experience for me. We’ve had a good few people come into the Willow since seeing the articles and saying they’ve read them and wanted to try the food. It’s been unreal, so thank you!

This time we’re going to do a little Christmas special. I spent a lot of time thinking about what to do on this one, I spoke with the team and friends about their Christmas Day and Boxing Day dinners and what sort of food is on the table. I found it very interesting listening to them about what they have during the Christmas holidays, and to what the favourite is - very surprised to hear one of my friends say that brussels sprouts were theirs, hands down my least favourite! In recent years I’ve learnt to enjoy them more as we now jazz them up a little bit, throw some pancetta, garlic, chestnuts etc in there to take away that brussels flavour.

For me, Christmas Day is all about the stuffing and pigs in blankets. Good quality sausage meat with some added extras to get a beautiful couple of rolls of stuffing and some lovely little pigs in blankets - we toss ours in wholegrain mustard, honey, and some chives for colour at home. Delightful every time.

Sausage roll
Sausage roll

We’re very lucky in Suffolk with the quality of the produce and suppliers around us, Our fields are full of lovely pigs, but not only that, we produce fantastic potatoes, cheeses, milk, all sorts of incredible vegetables, and my personal favourite. . . beer. This just makes eating local super easy.

Which brings me to what we’re going to be making. The humble sausage roll.

This was a firm favourite for a lot of the people I spoke with to have on Boxing Day. It goes so well with the cold meat, mash and pickles my family always has on Boxing Day. Or a Christmas Day evening snack when the games are out and the wine is flowing, it’s just always a winner and there’s so many variations of them. For me, there really is no right or wrong garnish to have with them, so I’m going to give you a couple of different ideas and you can decide what you want. I would love to know what you choose, so again, feel free to send photos to us over at the Willow.

The sausage roll in question is again going to be jazzed up a little just to make it extra Christmassy. So we’re going to add pancetta, apricots, sage, cranberries, and a cranberry hot sauce. For me, the hot sauce is delicious, but it works just as well without it being hot, just a nice cranberry sauce works lovely with it. With this, we’re going to serve it with a winter spiced red onion marmalade.

As I said I’d give a couple different garnishes to have with these, one of my favourites is brown sauce, but a lovely chunky pickle works, as does piccalilli and apple sauce, or you can leave some of the hot sauce we’re going to make aside to dip into. Let’s get into the making of the sausage rolls then.

Again, thank you for taking the time to read my article and I hope you all have a fantastic Christmas and a happy new year. I’ll see you in 2024.


For the sausage roll filling:

1kg sausage meat

100g chopped dried apricots

100g chopped dried cranberries

20g wholegrain mustard

100g pancetta

1 shallot / white onion – finely diced

1 clove of garlic#

Half a leek, finely diced

Half a bunch of sage – dried is fine

Half a bunch of parsley – dried is fine

10g salt

1 egg whisked

3 rolls of ready rolled puff pastry

Cranberry Hot Sauce:

500g of fresh or frozen cranberries

1 red chili

150ml red wine vinegar

100g dark brown sugar

Red Onion Marmalade:

1kg red onions, sliced

50ml balsamic vinegar

20g dark brown sugar

10g salt

2 teaspoons nutmeg

2 teaspoons cloves

1 mace

l Start by cooking down the pancetta on a high heat for about 3-4 minutes - you want it to go crispy and release all the natural fat it holds (we will add this to our sausage mix – fat is flavour!!)

l Once your pancetta is nicely cooked down, take it out the pan and add it to the sausage meat in a large mixing bowl. In the same pan the pancetta was cooked in, sweat down the chopped onion, garlic and leek, and once these are soft and almost translucent get them in the mixing bowl.

l Add the chopped dried fruits, wholegrain mustard, herbs and salt and mix well - you want the mixture to be fully combined with a nice equal spread of meat and ingredients. The idea is when you cut into the sausage roll, you’ll see a bit of all the ingredients. This will make roughly 3 rolls of pastry worth of sausage rolls – so plenty to go round the family.

l For the cranberry sauce, finely chop up the chili. Put the cranberries and chili in a pan and slowly cook down, once they start to break down, add the brown sugar and red wine vinegar and slowly cook for 30-40 minutes until its sticky and holds together nicely. Season accordingly.

l For the marmalade, cook down the sliced red onions with some salt, this will help release the natural sugars from the onions, cook until they start to catch then add the balsamic vinegar and the rest of the ingredients and cook out for roughly half an hour to an hour.

l You can either roll the sausage meat into a log or if you have any piping bags put it in them and pipe onto the pastry. Before you do this, add a layer of the cranberry jam then pipe/place the sausage mix on top, roll the pastry, egg wash the sausage roll and cook for 25-30 minutes at 180C.

Jordan Ryan is head chef at The Weeping Willow, 39 Bury Road, Barrow Hill, Barrow, Bury Saint Edmunds IP29 5AB

Jordan Ryan is head chef at The Weeping Willow in Barrow

See www.theweepingwillow.co.uk

Call 01284 771881