I have something to confess. I had forgotten all about Glamorgan sausages until just the other day when I was reading through a Riverford recipe leaflet. You know how it is. You make something, realise how delicious it is and add to your repertoire for the next couple of years and then bit by bit it gets nudged out of the way by new and trendier dishes. Something similar happened to me and Glamorgan sausage. I admit it; it shouldn’t have. These gorgeous little veggie sausages are jammed packed full of some of my favourite flavours and are a fabulous way to use up any semi-stale bread you might have hanging around. But with a cupboard full of leeks, a family always craving cheese, and a handy reminder from the Riverford kitchens, I figured now is the time for the sausages to stage a comeback.
Although you may hear that Glamorgan sausages (or Selsig Morgannwg as they are known in Welsh) are a product of War time rationing, they do in fact date rather further back than that. To 1862 to be precise when the writer George Burrows published his travel guide to Wales, “Wild Wales”. After a particularly satisfactory breakfast of toast, tea and Selsig Morganwg he was hooked and with good reason. It will undoubtedly happen to you too. You’ll find many recipes around if you do a quick google search, but they all follow along the same lines. Lots of leeks (they are Welsh after all), breadcrumbs and the infamous Glamorgan cheese. Unfortunately, you can’t get hold of that any more but a mighty fine substitute (so they say, I’ve never had the original and with only one herd of the Glamorgan cows left in existence nor am I likely to either) is Caerphilly. You’ll also get away with Wensleydale, or perhaps feta but I personally don’t think you can go wrong with a nice piece of mature cheddar. One thing is for sure though, whatever cheese combination you use they respond particularly well to being formed the night before and chilled until needed or given the fish cake treatment and frozen till the pan is ready and waiting for them. Even if you choose to make my fiddled with version. About that; perhaps I should apologise to all the Welsh out there for fiddling with what is already pretty close to perfection but I would argue that all good cooking evolves and would urge all of you to try this (ok rather predictable for me, I know) adaptation. The beans are the perfect partner for the leeks and cheese without turning the whole thing into a croquette which the more common addition of mashed potato tends to do.
When it comes to serving them, the world is your oyster as far as I’m concerned (although that may be a step too far for some Welsh chefs). Dish them up wherever you’d serve a regular sausage (bearing in mind that they probably won’t hold up as well as a standard banger to lashings of gravy). Stay traditional and dish them up next to a plate of mashed potato and swede or think full English (or possibly Welsh?) breakfast, or alongside a dish of lentils dressed with loads of fresh herbs and garlic or even a fresh tomato salad. Or go my way and take advantage of another new food trend and serve them with a warm salad of fresh, beautiful flower sprouts (the love child of kale and brussel sprouts); blanched for a minute or so and sautéed briefly in a pan laced with olive oil, garlic and fennel seeds then tossed through with fresh lemon juice.
Glamorgan Sausages Recipe
Makes 16 generous sized sausages, yours might be (who am I kidding? They are sure to be) more delicate than mine:
400g flageolets, blitzed roughly in a food processor
2 tbsps thyme
Salt and pepper
2 tsps English mustard
225g mix of Caerphilly and cheddar
200g breadcrumbs (half white half brown)
4 eggs separated
100g plain flour
200g breadcrumbs (your voice what type this time)
Start by softening your leeks with the thyme in a splash of olive oil and a good sized knob of butter.
Whilst they are softening, separate your eggs. Reserve the egg whites, whisk the mustard into the egg yolks and then stir in the cheeses. Add the flageolets then the leeks and the breadcrumbs. Season with some sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
Lightly whisk the egg whites, then pour them into a shallow bowl. Put the flour and breadcrumbs into two other shallow bowls. With damp hands, form the mixture into fat sausage shapes, then roll them quickly in the flour, then the egg white then the breadcrumbs. Lay on a lined baking sheet.
If you have time, chill for an hour or so, or if you are super organised freeze them. If not, don’t beat yourself up, just skip straight to the frying. Preheat your oven, then heat a frying pan with around 3 tbsps of olive oil in it. Brown the sausages in batches, then drain on kitchen paper.
When all of the sausages are golden brown, transfer back to the lined baking sheet and bake in the oven for around 15 minutes.
Serve as you see fit whilst they are still piping hot.