Pigs-in-a-blanket are a tailgate staple, but you can do so much better than crappy cocktail wienies wrapped in a doughy crescent roll. To amp up you gameday goods, and add some wild game to the mix, take a gander across the pond to the Brits, who know a thing or two about meat and pastry pairings.
Order a sausage roll in jolly ol’ England and you’ll get a flavorful blend of ground meat punched up with sage and other spices, often nutmeg, coriander and thyme. All this is wrapped in a flaky pastry crust and generally served in portions that can be enjoyed in just one or two bits – in other words, the perfect finger food to watch football, whether that’s a soccer match or our more familiar American game.
Classic sausage rolls feature a handmade dough of flour, lard, butter and ice water that puffs up into a flaky roll that offsets the fattiness of a good mixed sausage. However, commercially available puff pastry found in the grocer’s freezer section makes for a fine substitute and helps these rolls come together a lot quicker and easier.
And speaking of sausage, our version is venison, but because ground wild game is often dry it’s important to mix in some moisture. One of the best ways to do this is with pork ground from a Boston butt, especially one that has plenty of fat. Beef tallow or leaf lard are also good, as is a squirt of olive oil for the health conscious. The fat not only adds flavor, but it’s also necessary for the sausage to bind together. Whichever option you chose, aim for at least ¼ fat to ¾ ground venison; one-third is even better, but any more and you lose the meaty taste of the deer, elk or other venison.
Venison Sausage Rolls
- 1 ½ lbs. ground venison
- ½ lbs. ground pork
- 2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 tsp. dried thyme
- 1 tsp. dried sage
- ½ tsp. ground coriander
- ½ tsp. nutmeg
- ¼ tsp. cayenne
- Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 egg, beaten with 1 tsp. water, for egg wash
- Place the ground venison, pork and all spices into a large bowl and, using your hands or a stout paddle, mix thoroughly until the sausage binds together. Refrigerate overnight to let the flavors meld.
- Preheat the oven to 400˚. Lay out a sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured countertop and, with a rolling pin, press into a thin rectangle. Cut the pastry lengthwise into three equal pieces. Form a handful of sausage into a cylinder and lay onto the center of one piece of pastry. Brush one edge of the pastry with water and fold the dough over the sausage. Seal the edges with a fork. Repeat with the remaining sausage and dough, then cut each crosswise into four to six pieces.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the sausage rolls onto the sheet. Brush with remaining egg wash and bake until golden brown and cooked through, about 20-25 minutes.