Pork, Apple & Sage Sausage Rolls

Sausage rolls, alongside meat pies, have got to be one of the most iconic Aussie childhood treats we've grown up with.  Who doesn't have fond memories of waiting in anticipation for the lunch break at school so you could get one from the tuckshop, or riding your bike down to the local bakery on a Saturday morning so you could enjoy a quick snack?  Whilst the filling may differ depending on where you bought one from, the one thing they should all have in common is a flaky, buttery pastry casing.  Whilst I have enjoyed my fair share of store bought sausage rolls over the years, these days I prefer to make my own using quality pork mince, as I know exactly what's in it, and the flavour is far superior to that of sausage mince.  I guarantee once you've made these yourself, you'll think twice before buying another store bought sausage roll again!  These are delicious and moreish, and very easy to make.

1 kg pork mince (good quality, finely minced)
2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and finely grated (squeeze well to get rid of juice)
1 large brown onion, finely diced
1 large clove garlic, crushed
4 sprigs fresh sage leaves (1/2 bunch), finely chopped
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed in a mortar and pestle
1/3 cup dried breadcrumbs
5 puffed pastry sheets
Olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Salt flakes
1 large egg
Splash of milk

Pre heat a fan-forced oven to 200C.

Take the 5 sheets of puff pastry and slice them horizontally in half.  You should now have 10 large rectangles.  Leave the pastry rectangles out of the fridge to bring them to room temperature.  Ensure they are left on their plastic film, or alternatively you can place them on sheets of baking paper to ensure they don't stick, so they can be rolled easily at at later stage.

Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan, and add the finely diced onions and crushed garlic.   Cook over a low to medium heat for approximately 15 minutes until soft.  Add a little salt flakes during this process to prevent the onions and garlic from browning.

When the onion and garlic mixture has softened, add the finely chopped sage leaves and some cracked black pepper (to taste), and continue to cook for a couple more minutes to allow the flavour of the sage to permeate and intensify.

Remove from heat and spread mixture onto a plate to allow to cool.

Place your kilo of pork mince into a large mixing bowl.

Once the sage and onion mix has cooled, pop it into the bowl with your mince, along with a handful of dried breadcrumbs, the crushed fennel seeds, and the grated apple.  Make sure you have squeezed out all of the juice from the grated apple first, otherwise the mixture will be too wet.

Add some more salt flakes (to taste) and a little more freshly ground black pepper to the mixture.

Using your hands, squish all the ingredients together until very well combined, and set aside.

In the meantime, mix the egg and a splash of milk together using a fork in a small bowl until combined, and set aside.  This mixture will be used to brush onto the rolls before they are placed in the oven.

Using one pastry rectangle at a time, take a couple of handfuls of pork mixture and using your hands, shape the mixture along the centre of each rectangle so it resembles a long thick sausage.  Be careful not to overfill as it will be difficult to roll them up.

Using a pastry brush, brush each edge of the pastry with the egg and milk mixture then fold one side of the pastry over to the other side, encasing the filling inside.  Press the pastry down with your fingers to seal it, then using a fork, press the fork down along the entire edge of the roll to seal it up properly.  This also gives the edge of the rolls a pretty look.

Cut the rolls into the size you want - you can choose to cut them in half, or in quarters like I did.

Brush each roll with the egg wash and bake in the oven until they are puffed and golden, and the mixture has cooked right through.

Serve your rolls with a lovely tomato relish or some caramelised onion chutney. These are also a healthy alternative for the kids' lunches at school instead of the old tuckshop variety.


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