Juicy, slightly sweet, slightly spicy and well seasoned ground pork filling mixed with deliciously caramelized apple and roasted fennel spice, wrapped in a golden brown, buttery, flaky puff pastry. Up your sausage roll game with these Caramelized Apple and Fennel, Pork Sausage Rolls. These will be THE BEST SAUSAGE ROLLS you ever make!
So I heard that the USA is unfamiliar with these things. What the hell? That’s unacceptable! Time to change that! 🙂
While that may not be true for all Americans, I feel like those who don’t know about it might be seriously missing out on some amazing comfort food magic! Wikipedia calls it as a British savoury pastry snack that’s popular in many commonwealth countries, which I can totally attest to. I present to you, the wickedly delicious, Sausage Roll!
What is a sausage roll you ask?
It’s ground/minced meat (pork, beef, veel, chicken, lamb – whatever!), seasoned and spiced as a filling. Then it is wrapped in pastry (puff pastry or short crust pastry sometimes). Finally it is glazed with some egg wash and then baked to a golden brown, buttery, flaky, all kinds of drool-worthy savoury treat! No, it’s not “rolled sausage” and it’s not pigs in a blanket, though it may look like a closely-related cousin. It’s so much better than pigs in a blanket. It’s hard to beat a flaky, buttery, well-seasoned sausage roll, warm out of the oven. Very hard. Maybe even impossible.
Sausage filling – pork, salt, thyme, fennel, black pepper, caramelized apple mix, butter and garlic
Today I’m going to give these an even more flavourful twist by making Caramelized Apple, Fennel and Pork Sausage Rolls! Deliciously caramelized sweet apple and roasted fennel spice (with undertones of mint), mixed with pork. This gives you a well seasoned, sweet, juicy, slightly spicy and spiced pork filling that is wrapped in a buttery, flaky puff pastry.
If you haven’t had sausage rolls before, there’s really no time to waste. 🙂
Just like Wikipedia says, sausage rolls were a quintessential part of my childhood while growing up in New Zealand and later in Australia. As kids, this was one of our absolute favourite party snacks. And as adults, it was an easy to make, yet delicious meal when you were short on time and cash. These are widely popular in cafes, and available in supermarkets in frozen form, so all you got to do is bake ’em at home and serve fresh for lunch/dinner, for guests or at parties as a snack/appetizer. I can’t even recall the number of times I used a couple (or more, there may have been more) of these to substitute a full meal aaand…
Something this good needs a bit of love. That is why I’m not going to just take some minced meat and then slap it on a pastry, bake it and be done. Nope, no can do.
The caramelized apple and fennel take these to a whole new gourmet level, so that a glass of wine would not be out of place next to a plateful of these.
Notes about the recipe –
Caramelizing apples adds another layer of flavour to the sausage rolls. Apple sauce was an option, but that would have integrated with the pork filling too much and not given me a distinct apple flavour. So I went with bits of caramelized apple that gave me bursts of delicious flavour, every time I bit into the roll.
The apple is cut into really small 1 cm thick batons and sliced thinly. These pieces, when caramelized, didn’t interfere with the integrity or the consistency of the pork filling, since you don’t want a separated or crumbly sausage filling either. You want it nice and smooth, juicy, without large pieces of anything. I achieved that with the really small pieces of caramelized apple, while adding a wonderful sweetness to the filling too.
And to balance that sweetness, I added roasted fennel. The fennel was ground to a powder (or you can use already ground fennel powder). This has undertones of mint, along with some chilli flakes for some heat.
Plus I added some breadcrumbs with some melted butter to keep the pork really nice and juicy. Since I used lean pork, the extra fat from the butter will help to keep it juicy. If you’re using pork that isn’t lean, then you can skip the butter.
I sprinkled some black sesame seeds on top but that was purely for aesthetics. You can use white sesame seeds, poppy seeds or just keep it plain. I also sprinkled some sea salt on top, but that too is optional.
You can make these Sausage Rolls with Homemade Rough Puff Pastry, instead of store bought too! Here’s my go to recipe to make my own Easy Puff Pastry! 🙂
Did I mention how great these taste? Well, I think it bears repeating. 🙂
You can serve these with some ketchup or tomato sauce on the side (I made some from scratch). Personally, I very much prefer eating them without any kind of dipping sauce. Too much ketchup or dipping sauce can hide the flavours of the apple, fennel and pork filling.
Adding finely sliced apple is much better than adding apple puree. This is because you can still taste the caramelized apple quite distinctly. They add a subtle sweetness that’s present throughout the pork filling. Rather than the apple disappearing into the filling, you can taste and feel the fruit sweetness in every bite. The fennel adds a nice spicy freshness too.
So if you’ve never had sausage rolls before, go ahead and give these a try. You too will regret nothing. Nothing!
Caramelized Apple and Fennel, Pork Sausage Rolls
- 2 tbsp butter
- 7-8 oz Granny Smith apples cored and cut into 1 cm thick batons and sliced thinly (as seen in image above)
- 5 oz finely diced sweet onion
- 3 tbsp white sugar
- 2 tbsp apple cider
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ tsp chilli flakes
- 1 lb pork
- Caramelized apple
- 2 large cloves of garlic chopped finely
- 1 tsp thyme leaves
- 2 tsp heaped fennel seeds dry roasted and ground to a powder (about 2 tsp of ground fennel)
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ cup bread crumbs
- 2 tbsp butter melted
- generous pinch of cayenne pepper
- 2 sheets of frozen puff pastry 9 x 9 inches
- 1 egg – for egg wash
- Sea salt flakes
- Sesame seeds black or white / poppy seeds
- Heat 2 tbsp of butter in a nonstick pan. When melted, add the onions & sugar and saute over medium heat until the onions start to turn golden brown, about 15 minutes.
- Add the apple, apple cider and salt and cook for another 20-30 minutes until the liquid is reduced and the apples have caramelized. Add the chilli flakes and cook for a few more minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
- In a bowl, place the ground pork, breadcrumbs and pour the melted butter over the bread crumbs, and then add the cooled caramelized apple, chopped garlic, thyme leaves, ground fennel, salt pepper and cayenne pepper. Mix with your hands or a spoon, until everything is mixed through well. Divide the mix into four portions.
- Lightly flour your work-space with some AP flour. Place one puff pastry sheet on your bench and cut it in half, so you have two 9 x 4.5 inch rectangles. Take a single portion of the sausage filling and while leaving a 1 cm margin, place the filling along one long edge of the puff pastry rectangle, evenly. Brush both long edges with some egg wash, and carefully roll up the pastry sheet with the sausage filling, until the ends overlap by about 1 cm. Gently pinch the two ends together to create a seal. Place the seam side down, and cut this roll into 4 equal parts (with a back and forth motion using a serrated knife so that you cut evenly and smoothly). Place the 4 sausage rolls on the baking tray, slightly apart.
- Repeat with the remaining puff pastry sheet to make 16 sausage rolls in total.
- Using a small sharp knife, make two slits on the top of each sausage roll. Brush the tops generously with egg wash (highly recommended) and sprinkle some salt and sesame seeds (optional).
- Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, and then increase the heat to 375°F and bake for a further 30 minutes or until they are golden brown.
- Take out of the oven, allow them to rest for a few minutes, and serve while warm.