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Sausage rolls are a snack food or appetizer made by stuffing puff pastry or bread dough with a mixture of ground sausage and other spices. The dish also can be made by wrapping a single sausage in dough and baking it. The end result is a compact food that can be eaten with the hands or on the go, and has a spicy filling and a crisp, browned-dough coating. Versions of the sausage roll can be made with other fillings so it more closely resembles a breakfast dish, or it can be made with only ground meat that has been spiced in a way similar to sausage. Parties, celebrations and other gatherings are all common places where sausage rolls are served, mostly as a fast snack.
The type of meat used in sausage rolls can vary from one recipe to the next. The dish is popular in several countries, though the sausage is made differently or is of a different consistency in some areas. In general, savory sausage such as hot Italian sausage or breakfast sausage is used, without the casing. A slightly different flavor and texture can be achieved by using ground meats and adding spices such as thyme, oregano and garlic powder. Different types of sausages — such as pepperoni, andouille or sweet Chinese sausage — also can be combined in the filling.
The filling for sausage rolls can consist of the ground meat, eggs to help hold the mixture together, and sometimes vegetables such as celery and carrots. Spices such as cayenne pepper and aromatics such as onions and green peppers can be diced and mixed in, as well. Breadcrumbs, sometimes soaked in milk beforehand, can help to fill out the stuffing and prevent it from drying out while the sausage rolls are cooking. The meat does not always have to be cooked beforehand, but many recipes call for it to help reduce the fat in the dish.
The wrapper for sausage rolls can be made from nearly any type of dough, although puff pastry dough is a common choice. Bread dough, phyllo dough and biscuit dough also can be used. Whatever the choice, the dough is rolled out into thin sheets and the stuffing is placed at one end before being wrapped inside the dough to form a log.
Sausage rolls can be baked as a single piece and then sliced into smaller pieces when it is done cooking. It also can be formed into single packets that are an appropriate size for a single serving. Alternately, a single log can be formed and sliced into bite-sized pieces before baking so they can be easily served as hors d’oeuvres.
Like Pippinwhite, I've seen pigs in blankets, but not the sausage roll as described in the article. I've seen the sausage pinwheels, and another very popular sausage appetizer: sausage balls.
Sausage balls are incredibly delicious little bites made with hot bulk sausage, sharp cheddar cheese and baking mix. That's it. You just mix everything up, roll it into balls and bake them for about 20 minutes. They come out meaty, cheesy and crispy, and yummy!
I prefer a higher proportion of meat and cheese to baking mix, which means they are more meaty and not as doughy. People have their individual preferences, though, and adjust the recipe accordingly.
I've had sausage rolls made from a crescent roll dough, rolled up and cut crosswise into pinwheels. Those are good, and are easy. Plus, they look great on a platter. They look a lot more difficult to make than they actually are. This is always a plus in my book.
Those are really the only sausage rolls per se that I've had. I always called a link sausage in pastry a pig in a blanket. Maybe that's more of a regional turn of phrase, though. Seems like I've seen pastry stuffed with ground sausage, but I didn't ever hear it called sausage rolls. As I said, maybe it's regional.
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