Two best words in the English language? Sausage and Bacon
Updated: Oct 4, 2023
A hotly contested category. Every self-respecting supermarket, farm shop and butcher will have a range of sausages up front and centre. The great British banger is big business. There is an annual sausage week, and national sausage awards – not surprising as we consume 175,000 tonnes of them a year. I’d be surprised if there has been a week in my last 13 years as a parent where sausages have not been on the menu in some shape of form. A family staple, and when of the right quality, they are delicious too.
Add that they are relatively cheap, freeze brilliantly and - even for an limited chef such as myself, easy to cook, and there are many good reasons to buy them regularly, especially if they are locally sourced from creditable suppliers.
Bacon is a happy pan-partner, particularly at this time of year when we are beginning to think about the ubiquitous Christmas lunch trimming, pigs in blankets. Wiltshire has always been famous for bacon and at one time each town had its own bacon curer.
That said, bacon does not need to ride on the back of the sausage! Many consider bacon to be without rival in a bap with a bit of Tommy K, so it deserves time on its own in the limelight. It also lasts in the fridge and also freezes well.
And so to some local producers.
The Farm at Avebury
I’ve always thought that one of the ways to tell how strong the artisan/ small batch credentials of a sausage producer are is to look at the size and shape of the sausages. If the sausages, and indeed a pack of 6 sausages, are all identical in size and weight, then you know that perhaps to an extent the accountants have moved in, and a manufacturing process invested in to deliver larger numbers of uniform sausages.
However, if the sausages are all a slightly different size, and the pack weight is a bit random and always above its published weight, then you know that an artisan’s hand is at play. Basic techniques are in play and I don’t mind adding a bit extra for that.
And this is very much the case at Galteemore Farm in Beckhampton. Rob Hues has taken over the reins of the farm now from his dad to become the 4th generation of Hues to run the farm.
Rob is passionate about producing native breed pork, as well as slow grown, grass-fed beef and lamb, all fed exclusively on farm grown produce. His Oxford Sandy and Black pigs are the farm’s newest residents and love being left to roam through the woods around the farm — their natural habitat.
In addition to traditional pork sausages (£4/500g pack of 6), bacon (£4/500g) and various roasting joints, Rob has started making their own charcuterie – although you need to stay in touch with Rob if you want some as they disappear fast, a small (?) proportion having never quite making it to the sales counter!
Having had a happy life roaming the woods, the pigs are slaughtered and butchered within 5 miles of the farm – keeping meat miles to a very minimum. It almost goes without saying that everything we have bought from Rob tastes delicious as he has all the right attitudes and aspirations.
Rob’s rapeseed oil is another good addition to our kitchen counter, costing £7 for 500ml, or £35 for a box of 6.
The best way to buy his produce is to email email@example.com or phone Rob on 07790 026 363 and arrange a time to collect – there are good directions to the farm on the website https://www.thefarmatavebury.co.uk/contact.
You won’t be disappointed!
Chris at Downland Produce gets another mention here (see my blog on Ham), as he produces our children’s favourite - Lincolnshire sausages. There has been much dedicated testing over the years, and research conducted at many local and farm shops, and Chris’ Lincolnshire sausages still win the day.
Most of Chris' wide range of sausages are priced at around £3.50 for a 420g pack of 6. His bacon prices are around £15-£16/kg, prices varying slightly for smoked/ unsmoked/ back/ streaky. By way of example, £3.19 for 200g of smoked back bacon.
Lawn Farm in Pewsey
Lawn Farm hit the headlines in 2017 (possibly not is a way they intended) when they thanked the local fire brigade for saving their piglets in a barn fire with a gift, some months later, of sausages from the then fattened and slaughtered pigs. The present still seems to me to be on the button – and an important reminder of the circle of life. Despite the media storm at the time (even the NY Times covered it), the farm and its farm shop, which opened in 2020, have gone from strength to strength.
The resident pigs are also Oxford Sandy and Black. They roam the fields all year round, giving them plenty of opportunity to root around and forage in the soil. Also reared on the farm and sold in their farm shop is beef, eggs, and honey.
Sausages (traditional pork, sage and onion) are £9.80 per kg which works out to approx. £6 a pack of 8 or 10 sausages, or 14 chipolatas.
Bacon is £10.00 per kg which works out to approx. £5 a pack. They sell smoked and unsmoked, back and streak.