Ragley Pork and Pure UBU Sausages – the verdict

IMG_5452Running a food website has it’s perks, as I found out this week after a call from a PR company representing Purity Brewing Co and Ragley Estate Meats, inviting me to sample a brand new sausage made by Ragley Estate Meats, using Purity’s Pure UBU ale. Now, I’m not one to refuse free food so I was excited to try this exclusive Warwickshire collaboration. I’m also though, not one to have my food messed around with too much – I don’t like sun dried tomatoes in my bread, herbs in my tinned tomatoes, or chilli in my cheese (and definitely not my chocolate), so would I approve of beer in my sausages? Maybe more importantly, how the heck do they get beer into sausages? I was informed that the beer is heated, and the steam from the beer infuses the meat. Phew, that’s that question sorted then.

So, what to cook to allow me to properly test these sausages? It had to be simple to allow the sausages to be the main event – bangers and mash seemed the obvious choice. However when you’ve got posh sausages, I think it’s worth poshing it up a bit, so I put an Italian twist on bangers and mash and went for potato gnocchi with sausages and a Pure UBU gravy. Here’s the recipe (serves 2):

For the gnocchi

400g cooked and thoroughly mashed or riced potatoes (waxy varieties are good, I used Balfour and added a bay leaf and salt to the cooking water)
100g ’00’ pasta flour (plain flour will do)
1 egg – whisked

IMG_5462Ensuring the potatoes have cooled from cooking, combine all the ingredients and knead lightly for a minute. Divide into three and roll each out with your hands on a heavily floured work surface into a long sausage that is about 12mm thick. Then, using a knife divide into half inch chunks, and put aside on a floured plate until you need them.

For the sausages

I used 3 sausages for 2 people, but feel free to have more or less. Fry them in a little oil on a low heat for 15-20 minutes until just cooked through.

For the gravy and assembly

30g unsalted butter
60g Pure UBU ale
1 small handful of good grated parmesan (I used 22-month aged)
Salt and Pepper
Ground elder – 1 tablespoon, finely chopped (replace for chives or parsley if you like)
Edible wildflowers to garnish (I used dandelion and lesser celandine)

When the sausages are cooked, remove to a board to rest for a couple of minutes, then slice diagonally into nice chunks. Heat a large pan of water to a rolling boil for the gnocchi. Warm up the beer to just below boiling point in a pan. Prepare to get a bit manic, the next few things need to all happen within about 3 minutes flat! Scrape the frying pan used for the sausages clean and add to it the unsalted butter on a medium heat until it’s foaming. Add to this the warmed beer, and allow the bubbling to emulsify it. Quickly add the gnocchi to the boiling water. Return to the sauce and add the parmesan and stir to distribute throughout the gravy, and season with salt, pepper, and chopped ground elder. Turn down to a low heat. After the gnocchi has had about 2 minutes, it will float to the surface – it is done, drain the water off through a sieve. Now divide the gnocchi and the sausage chunks between two plates, spoon over the sauce and garnish with wildflowers or more chopped herbs, and freshly ground black pepper. Bon Appetit!


The Verdict

The dish was fabulous, the gnocchi was perfectly tender and tasty and the gravy was malty with a hint of bitterness, offset by the freshness of the ground elder. As for the sausages, they were very good – clearly a high pork content (66% according to the packet), very well seasoned, and a deep, rich character from the malt and hops of the beer. Had I not known there was ale in there, I’m not sure I would have been able to detect it, but I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. Overall, it’s a good product, and if you can buy it locally, it’s a good choice for a rich, tasty pork sausage to put centre stage in a posh sausage dish. If you’d like to try for yourself, they’re being formerly launched tomorrow, Saturday 24th April, at Alcester Food Festival. Sadly I can’t be there, although I was asked to do a stall, but if you’re in the neighbourhood, check it out, it should be a great day.

Simpsons vs Purity – matching fine food and real ale

Last time I had a pint of Purity Brewing Co’s Mad Goose, I think I was standing in The Wellington surrounded by the smell of sweat and salt and vinegar crisps. That’s probably a fairly typical accompaniment to real ale, but following a chance meeting between Andreas Antona (Simpson’s chef-proprietor) and Paul Halsey (MD of Purity) at the Taste of Birmingham festival, that might all be about to change…


Andreas and Paul decided to put together an evening to celebrate both artisanally made food and beer, and last week at Simpson’s there was a fantastic five-course menu on offer with a different beer to accompany each dish, including Purity’s real ales Pure UBU, Pure Gold and Mad Goose, and its imported beers Veltins Pilsner and Maisels Weisse. Although Loaf wasn’t there on this occasion (we found out too late!), reportedly the evening was a real success, with around 20 guests tucking into the delicious food and beer.

Purity also had Paul Corbett, the Managing Director of its hops merchant Charles Faram, on hand to talk to the guests about how the hops in its beers impacts upon the finished flavour. All of Purity’s hops are specially selected to produce unique tasting beers, making them a great choice to match to different types of food.

Paul Halsey was there to help host the evening and he said: “Andreas did a brilliant job of designing a menu that perfectly complemented our ales and imported beers. It’s great that people are starting to realise that real ale can be enjoyed with fine food just as well as, if not better than wine.”

Purity kindly provided Loaf with the menu from the evening – let this whet your appetite:

Terrine_of_HamCourse One – Terrine of ham hock, chicken & foie gras, sweet corn puree, truffle vinaigrette
(Beer Veltins Pilsner)

Course two – Escalope of salmon on a bed of sauerkraut, light mustard sauce
(Beer – Pure Gold)

Course three – Slow-cooked belly of suckling pig, ravioli of braised trotter, fennel compote, spiced baby pears, honey & cracked pepper sauce
(Beer – Mad Goose)

Caramelised_BananaCourse four – Caramelised banana, caramel parfait, peanut butter ice-cream
(Beer – Maisels Weisse)

Course five – Welsh rarebit
(Beer – Pure UBU)

Although Simpsons were unable to provide a specific example of supporting local farms through their delicious looking menu, they are stalwarts of the local food scene in Birmingham, buying from great Midlands butcher Aubrey Allen, and Staffordshire’s Manor Fruit Farm among other local producers.

A quick google search reveals there’s a lot of resources out there for would-be ‘ale sommeliers’. Try this CAMRA guide for a start, or if you can get hold of Purity’s excellent Ales (check stockists here, or buy from their shop), here’s what they recommend:

Pure Gold is a refreshing golden ale with a dry and bitter finish that is easy to drink. It would suit light savoury and spicy dishes, such as Indian, Thai and fish dishes, especially salmon.

Pure UBU is a distinctive premium amber coloured beer that is balanced and full of flavour making it a pleasure to drink. It would go well with any red meat in the form of casseroles, stews, steak and kidney pudding and also with most strong-tasting cheeses.

Mad Goose is a classic pale ale that is zesty and full-bodied. This light copper coloured ale would go with pork and lamb dishes. (what, not salt and vinegar crisps then?!)

These two great local businesses obviously hit it off, as they are hatching plans for a second date on the 12th November, where they’ll be matching game and beer. Stay glued to the site as full details will be published here when they are released.

Were you there? Tell us what you thought by leaving a comment below.