Traditional Cumberland Sausage Ring

This page on the traditional Cumberland sausage ring will cover the recipe for making Cumberland sausage and also the classic way of presenting it... a practical way to cook a long large sausage.

Sausages are an absolute BBQ staple so trying a different way to cook and present a sausage is the order of the day.

Cumberland sausage ring

Before we go any further I'm going to declare myself a sausage snob. I make my own because commercial sausage makers these days are more concerned with profit than tradition. To put this into context this is the typical process that a sausage maker uses (remember water is profit):

1. Grind lean meat with fat (proportions vary)

2. Add a manufactured seasoning which contains:

  • Carmine – a pink colouring that gives the impression of a higher meat content
  • Maltodextrin – a binding agent that gives that rubbery texture to many sausages. (Coeliacs should take care because maltodextrin can be derived from wheat or barley)
  • Stabiliser (E451) – this helps emulsify fat and also aids water retention therefore making the sausage heavier and more profitable.
  • Flavour enhancer (E621) – Monosodium glutamate
  • Antioxidants E304i & E307 – added to extend the shelf life of the product
  • Preservative (E221)

3. And finally comes the rusk (commercial breadcrumb) which soaks up yet more water.

In other words:

  1. Get the cheapest cut of meat
  2. Add as much fat as possible
  3. Dilute with water until colourless and flavourless
  4. Add flavour enhancers to make it taste better
  5. Add colour to make it look like meat

A typical blend using a commercial sausage seasoning is as follows:-

  • 6 Kg pork trim (fatty off-cuts)
  • 1.2Kg fat
  • 1 Kg rusk
  • 2 Kg water
  • 1 x sachet of seasoning chemicals

All the sausage maker has to do is vary the seasoning, maybe use a alternative sized casing and a different variety of sausage has been made.

Call me a snob (it's OK I've already admitted it) but I don't want to eat that.

Moreover this doesn't reflect the tradition, eg.the English breakfast sausage contains rusk so fair enough but Cumberland sausage and many other varieties do not. Thus the only logical conclusion that I can come to is that rusk is added to keep costs down and profit up.

What Is Cumberland Sausage?

Cumberland sausage is one of the oldest and most popular sausages in England originating from the an old English county in the North West of the country whose most notable national park is the Lake District. Cumberland sadly lost it's identity in the 70's when the administrative regions of Cumberland and Westmorland were combined to form Cumbria.

The Cumberland sausage is classically made with roughly chopped meat and lots of pepper. It is stuffed in natural hog casing, is traditionally coiled (not linked), sold by length and because it's not linked you can cook it as a ring.

Ingredients For A Cumberland Sausage Ring:-

  • 1kg (2.2lbs) pork trim
  • 115g (¼lb) streaky bacon
  • 2½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon mace
  • 60ml (¼ cup) ice cold water

Method:-

Grind the pork trim and bacon using a 6mm (¼ inch) plate and place it in a mixing bowl.

Add the seasonings to the ice cold water and ensure the salt has dissolved. Read my page about making homemade sausage to understand the science behind this point.

Add the seasoned liquid to your ground pork and mix thoroughly either by hand or use a food mixer and a dough hook. (If mixing by hand the use rubber gloves to protect your hands from the cold).

The best way to mix by hand is to fold the ground meat over on itself and punch in with your fist - a bit like kneading dough for bread.

You need to mix enough to ensure that the seasoning is evenly distributed through the meat and also to ensure that you have made a good emulsion. If doing this by hand it may take 10 - 15 minutes hard exercise and you'll know when complete because the mix will be a little gloopy.

When everything is thoroughly mixed, run it through the grinder again and then place it in the stuffer cartridge. Give the cartridge a good few punches with your fist to eradicate trapped air.

Stuff into 30mm hog casings and coil to form your Cumberland sausage ring (you don't need to create links).

Preparation, Cooking & Presentation

The best way to present it and cook it is as a ring so you'll need a couple of pre-soaked bamboo skewers. Coil the sausage up and then truss it as you can see in the picture at the top, you'll need a 60cm (24inch) length of sausage to do this.

Note: I wouldn't normally be recommending that anyone puncture the skin of their sausages prior to cooking (see sausage cooking tips) because this only lets the fat drip out and the inside of the sausage will dry out quickly.

Trussing the sausage makes it easy to flip and because it is a thick sausage with a large cross section the impact of the puncture is minimal, especially on the internal part of the coil.

Cook you Cumberland sausage ring indirectly at 160°C (320°F) for approximately 30 minutes.

Cumberland sausage ring is traditionally served on a bed of mashed potatoes lashings of hot onion gravy poured over.

See Also:-

How To Make Sausage
How To Cook Sausage
How To Link Sausage
What Are Wienies?
Gluten Free Sausages

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