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Top Sausage Fest Tips

When a sausage competition is complimented with the best sausage tips in the business!

Imagine, all 9 of the market’s butchers lovingly combining their favourite flavours, confidently putting their best snag forward in a bid to be crowned possessor of the best sausage in Prahran. There aren’t many places in Melbourne – let alone the rest of Australia – where a Sausage Fest could be so hotly contested.

There was only a point in it between first and second, with more than a hundred people coming out to the Blanco Kitchen to try the offerings in question and cast their vote in a blind tasting. If you’d asked me who the winner was after each tasting, I could not have given a definitive answer, that’s how varied the feedback was.

The final results were:

1st Prize: Gary’s Quality Meats in collaboration with Russell Gilbert (a butcher in a past life) with their Beau Thai Sausage (which, incidentally, also won a national sausage competition last year).

2nd Prize: Neil’s Meats with their Aussie lamb, honey and mint (a roast dinner in a sausage)

3rd Prize: J & L Meats with their pork, apple and pistachio (another classic combination of flavours – the pistachio chunks in this sausage really gave them an edge)

In order to ensure a fair fight, there was but one grill-master – the man who manned the snags like they were his own, allowing no one to come within a meter of the Weber. And this wasn’t just any man – it was The Grill-Master himself, Mr. Bob Hart, author of Heat & Smoke, the definitive guide on Australian Barbecue (with plenty of sausage tips) and founder of the Australian Barbecue Academy.

Watching Bob’s sausage sizzling technique made me realize that I’ve been doing it WRONG! All these years, I’ve been scorching my sausages to within an inch of their life, never giving them a chance to reach their full potential. Having taken on Bob’s sausage tips, I tried out a few of these sausages at home for myself, and it’s like a whole new world has opened up to me.


Here are 5 of the best sausage tips I learnt on the day:

  1. Choose a good quality sausage: This goes without saying, of course, and, as a Prahran Market shopper you’re all over it, but if you need any further convincing, check out this post I wrote a million years ago.
  2. Blanch: Too often we overcook our snags – literally. It’s one thing to make sure they’re cooked through, but quite another to wait until they’re charred to within an inch of their lives before taking them off the heat. Enter: blanching. Bring a pot of water to the boil, add the sausages and drop the heat down to a simmer, letting them bob away for a couple of minutes. Once they’re blanched, they can last in the fridge for a couple of days without being cooked through (I know this for a fact because I took some of the blanched leftovers home and feasted on them for days). Note: some sausages – especially game meats – don’t love a blanch. I cooked up John Cester’s duck sausages at home and found that they behaved much better when cooked on medium without having been blanched first. Duck a l’Orange in a sausage anyone?
  3. Oil the sausage: Brushing a layer of neutral oil over the casing will prevent the outside from burning and ensure a crispy outer coating.
  4. Grill marks not skid marks: Use the grill-side of your BBQ if you’re barbecuing rather than the hotplate – this will ensure a chargrilled finish, because, after all, the charred bits are the yummiest.
  5. Use the hood: Your barbecue is a grill and an oven in one- that’s the way it’s designed to be used. Leaving the hood off loses precious heat and leaves your snags exposed to the elements, risking a drier result.

If you’re using your cooktop and a pan to cook the snags instead, apply the same principles up until 4 – though investing in a good griddle pan (like the Le Creuset ones from Essential Ingredient) will reward you with the char-lines of your dreams.

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