Here’s the story behind these dumpling-flavored sausage rolls. We had friends over at Christmas, and while serving up a plate of pigs-in-a-blanket, my friend pointed to them and said “Hey, what do you British call those? Isn’t there a crazy, funny name you have for those?” I was momentarily nonplussed as, a) we usually DO have a crazy, funny name for things, but b) I had no idea what else we might call them, having been out of the country, and therefore the loop, for about twenty years. (“Her Majesty’s Tiniest Corgis”? “Cheeky Blinders”? Answers on a postcard, please.)
A brief research session reminded me that Brits traditionally reserve the term “pigs in blankets” for small, un-cased sausages (which we call chipolatas) wrapped in bacon, not puff pastry, and that they’re a Christmas staple. (I then asked both my siblings to confirm this and they went straight for the sausage-in-pastry option instead, which, honestly, helps NOBODY.)
But while this post is about sausages in puff pastry, we’re not making pigs in blankets. We’re making sausage rolls. And we’re making them dumpling-flavored – seasoned with ginger, garlic, scallions and chili. Buckle up!
Though we’re seasoning the filling with flavors you would find in Chinese-style dumplings, the concept and technique are 100% British. The key to a really good sausage roll, regardless of seasoning, is starting with really good sausage. British sausages are really quite different than what we usually find in American meat cases. Often called Italian sausage, the product most often found in the American meat case is coarsely ground, usually quite lean, and seasoned with garlic and fennel. Most British sausage is more finely ground, often has a breadcrumb filler (called rusk) and is seasoned with sage.
More about British vs. American sausage can be found in our post and recipe for Scotch Eggs with a Perfect Runny Yolk. These can be partially assembled and stored at several stages making party or game day a breeze. Look for our ‘Make Ahead Tips’ below.
Even though our sausage rolls are dumpling-flavored, we’re still basing them on British-style sausages. In order to mimic the texture of British sausage, we combine ground pork with a bit of fattier breakfast sausage along with some panko breadcrumbs. Whipping the mixture in a stand mixer or food processor creates the finer, springier texture we’re looking for. The little bit of sage and other herbs from the breakfast sausage is mild enough not to overpower the gutsy dumpling-style seasoning we’ll be adding, but avoid using breakfast sausages that have added flavors like maple or brown sugar.
Making Dumpling-Flavored Sausage Rolls
Making dumpling-flavored sausage rolls isn’t hard at all, but it’s worth going through the steps in some detail.
If your puff pastry is still in the freezer, transfer it to the refrigerator so it will be defrosted by the time you’re ready for it. If you’re going to cook the sausage rolls right away, heat the oven to 400°F and set a rack in the middle. Line a rimmed baking tray with foil, parchment or a silicone mat.
Begin by adding the water, baking soda, salt and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer and give it a quick stir (if you’re using a food processor, mix those ingredients together in a small bowl and add it once the pork is in). The baking soda helps the sausage retain moisture, so it will stay juicy, and helps promote browning.
Add in the breakfast sausage, ground pork and all the ingredients except for the scallions (and chives, if you’re using them). Turn the mixer on medium and let it beat until the mixture becomes a uniform paste. It will turn slightly lighter in color as it whips. This will only take about a minute. Scrape the bowl down as needed, then add the scallions and chives (if you’re using them), and turn the mixer on low just until they’re fully mixed in, about 5 to 10 seconds.
If using a food processor, follow the same instructions, but pulse the mixture in one-second bursts until it reaches the desired consistency, about 20 one-second pulses. Add the scallions and chives, and pulse a couple more times to mix them in. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate the filling while you prep the dough. Make Head Tip #1: You can make the sausage filling up to 24 hours ahead.
Once the filling is made, it’s time to prep the dough. We used Pepperidge Farm which comes as 2 sheets, and only requires a little rolling to flatten out the seams. Lightly dust flour over a work surface and set out a sheet of pastry. Dust the top with flour and roll the pastry sheet into a large rectangle, roughly about 14 by 9-inches. Use a sharp knife or a pizza cutter to cut the sheet in half lengthwise, into two long strips. Then do the same with the other sheet, so you have 4 strips total. Take one quarter the filling mixture and form it into a long sausage shape down the middle of one pastry strip, leaving a clean border on either side. Repeat with the remaining filling and the other strips of pastry.
In a small bowl, beat the eggs with 1 teaspoon water. Lightly brush the egg wash over the exposed pastry on either side of the sausage. Fold the pastry over the filling, pressing the egg-brushed edges together to form a seal and crimp the seam with a fork to make sure it won’t split open. Repeat with the other pastry strips.
Cold pastry is much easier to work with than room temperature, so it’s a good idea to place the rolls on a baking sheet and chill them before cutting. Make Head Tip #2: the rolls can be chilled overnight, just cover the tray with plastic wrap so they don’t dry out.
Once they’re cold, brush the top and sides of the rolls with the egg wash and sprinkle over the sesame seeds. You can cut them any size you want but we found 1-inch pieces to be perfect for appetizers/party food. You’ll get about a dozen pieces out of each roll. Transfer them to the prepared baking sheet, leaving a little space in between each one (you may need 2 trays, or bake them in batches). Bake them until the pastry is crisp and golden and the filling is fully cooked, about 20 to 25 minutes.
We like to serve our dumpling-flavored sausage rolls with sweet chili sauce, for dipping.
Make Head Tip #3: You can freeze un-baked sausage rolls prior to glazing with the egg wash. Cut the rolls into the desired size and freeze them on the baking tray for a few hours before transferring them to a freezer-safe bag or air-tight container. The sausage rolls can be frozen for three months. Defrost the sausage rolls on a baking tray in the refrigerator overnight, then brush with the egg, sprinkle with sesame seeds and bake.
Dumpling-Flavored Sausage Rolls
For the Filling:
- 2 tablespoons cold water
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 1/2 pounds ground pork
- 1/2 pound bulk breakfast sausage or links removed from casing
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs (30g)
- 2- inch knob ginger grated (about 1 heaping tablespoon), 25g
- 4 large garlic cloves finely grated or minced (about 1 heaping tablespoon), 25g
- 2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine sake or dry sherry
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon chili garlic paste (Sambal) or sriracha (or more, to taste)
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- 4 scallions finely chopped (50g)
- 1 small bunch garlic chives finely chopped (optional)
For the Pastry:
- 1 box 2 sheets puff pastry, thawed but cold
- Flour for dusting
- 2 eggs
- 3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds white, black or a mix
- Sweet chili sauce
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (you can also use a food processor fitted with the steel blade), add the water, baking soda, salt and sugar and whisk to combine. Add the ground pork, breakfast sausage, panko, ginger, garlic, Shaoxing wine, soy sauce, sambal, and sesame oil to the bowl. Beat on medium speed until the mixture lightens a bit in color and becomes almost like a paste, about 1 minute. (If using a food processor, pulse on and off for about 30 seconds). Add in the scallions and chives if using, and beat or pulse again just until the scallions are distributed. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate it while you prep the dough. (The filling can be made up to a full day ahead).
- Preheat the oven to 400°F and set a rack in the middle. Line a rimmed baking tray with foil, parchment or a silicone mat.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll the puff pastry sheet to approximately 14 x 9-inches. Cut the sheet in half lengthwise to make two long strips. Repeat with the other pastry sheet so you have 4 strips. Take 1/4 of the filling mixture and form it into a long sausage shape down the middle of one pastry strip, leaving a clean border on either side. Repeat with the remaining filling and pastry.
- In a small bowl, beat the eggs with 1 teaspoon water. Lightly brush the egg wash over the exposed pastry on either side of the sausage. Fold the pastry over the filling, pressing the egg-washed edges together. Use a fork to crimp the pastry edges together to seal it. Repeat with the other rolls. To make them easier to cut, place the rolls on a tray and pop them into the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 24 hours
- Brush the top and sides of the pastry rolls with the remaining egg wash and sprinkle over the sesame seeds. Cut each long roll into about twelve 1-inch pieces. Transfer them to the baking tray, with a little space in between them. Bake until the pastry is crisp and golden and the filling is fully cooked, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve with sweet chili sauce for dipping.