Ludlow Food Festival

Sausage and borlotti casserole

Autumn it seems has arrived.

With autumn comes the renewed need to eat warming stews and casseroles. Hooray for autumn.

When I was wandering around Ludlow Food Festival last week I spotted some very delicious looking venison, port and thyme sausages at the Legges of Bromyard stand. I couldn’t resist.  Then it occurred to me that in about an hour’s time I was going to eating quite a few sausages and they might not be the best thing to take home for my tea this particular evening.  So, as I walked out of the castle grounds and through the thronging crowds of the Castle Square I walked past an empty butchers shop ( I hope they had a very busy stall somewhere within the festival grounds).  I popped in for a hefty piece of rump for tea that particular night and saved my sausages for the next night. What a treat they were too.

We have some borlotti beans in the garden.  I had bought some Wenlock Edge Farm baked ham from the festival ready for the fidget pie I was going to be baking the next day and there is ALWAYS a bottle of red wine sitting by the Aga (it’s a very bad day if there isn’t). This was the result, served with a steaming pile of mash.  Hooray for autumn indeed.

Serves 2 hungry people

4 good quality sausages, venison if you can get them
2 onions, peeled and finely chopped
½ dsp juniper berries (I used 1 dessertspoon but it was a little too overwhelming), lightly crushed
2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme or 1 scant tsp dried thyme
300g fresh tomato chopped, or you could use a 400g can
100g ham or bacon diced
2 bay leaves
250g borlotti beans, fresh or canned
1 tbsp tomato puree
300ml red wine


If you are using fresh borlotti beans then boil them in plenty of water until tender (10-15 minutes), then drain.

Brown the sausages in a little oil in a pan and remove to a plate.  Add the onion to the fat in the pan and fry until translucent and just beginning to tinge golden. Add the ham or the bacon and fry for a minute or two. Return the sausages back to the pan and add the juniper berries, thyme, bay leaves and borlotti beans. Add the wine and let it bubble for a minute or two.  Stir in the tomatoes and the tomato puree.  Season with pepper (you probably won’t need salt with the bacon and sausages, but taste at the end and add then if you do need it).  Bring everything to a simmer and cook slowly for about 40 minutes. If you want a thicker sauce, mix 2 tsp cornflour with a little water in a cup and then pour into the casserole and stir in well.  Allow to simmer for another five minutes before serving. Serve with mashed potato or cabbage.

PS I can’t claim credit for the leaf shot, that is Mr OC doing the fancy things he does with that camera of his.


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Judging those sausages at Ludlow

Firstly, I must apologise for this post taking a week to write. My eldest was seven at the weekend (where did those seven years run off to?) and so last week was a frenzy of tidying, planning, buying and cooking.  (Note to self: next year convince her that a party at the ball pit or ice rink is a much better idea than a party in the garden).

Anyway, the Ludlow Food Festival was brilliant this year.  I had my best year yet there, wandering around finding all the brilliant local producers, trying and buying their wares.  I also met up with Jo and Louise from Midland Food Bloggers.  It was lovely to meet them and have a chat and a wander.

Then at 3pm the main event for me was being part of the judging team for the Expert’s Choice for the best sausage of the five sausages on this year’s Sausage Trail.  The judging panel this year was myself, The Sausage King and his very adorable young son The Sausage Prince (who of course was the best judge at the table – that kid knows his sausages) and Rosanna Taylor-Smith, Councillor for Ludlow North.

Every year, as part of the festival, there is a sausage trail, with two rounds of judging.  The Peoples’ Choice Award and the Expert’s Choice Award.  For the first festival-goers buy a Sausage Trail Leaflet and then set off to try a bit of each of the sausages.  (It is extremely popular and the queues at each sausage stand are a sight to behold.) They then award each sausage a score, decide which one is best, take their leaflet to the final sausage tent and swap their completed leaflet for their favourite sausage in a bun. All of these leaflets are sorted and the sausage with the most votes becomes the People’s Choice.  Then a panel gets to try all five sausages and decided which sausage should win the Expert’s Choice.  This is the second year I have been on this panel and the judging is great fun, if not just a little bit difficult because of the very high standard.

All five butchers are local to Ludlow and the surrounding area and all five are traditional butchers producing some excellent quality meat. The sausages were all of a very high standard and all tasted mighty fine.  However, for the expert panel there were two sausages which came very close to being the best.  We all tasted and then tasted again, and then tasted again.  But in the end we all came to the same conclusion, the sausage from D W Walls just about clinched it, with Griffiths’ sausage coming a very close second.

The People Choice Award also went to Walls, with the Ludlow Food centre coming a very close second in that competition.

The entries this year were:

Andrew Francis Butchers – Pork with cracked black pepper
A. H Griffiths Butchers – Pork with sundried tomatoes and mushrooms
Legges of Bromyard – Pork with smoked pancetta and rocket
Ludlow Food Centre – Pork with blue cheese, redcurrant jelly and port
D W Wall – Pork with camembert, chives and redcurrant jelly

I do hope I can do it all again next year.

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Judging Sausages at Ludlow

It’s going to be a busy and exciting weekend.  It’s Ludlow Food Festival weekend – a major highlight of the foodie year – and this will be the second time I am going to be a sausage judge for the Expert’s Choice and helping to decide which sausage should take the top accolade this year (banish all thoughts relating to either Julian Clary or Frankie Howerd immediately!).  It was great fun last year and so I very much expect it to be the same this year. I am looking forward to meeting The Sausage King this year, as last year circumstances meant he couldn’t be there to proffer his knowledge of all things sausage. You can see how I got on last year as a judge in this post.

Whilst I am there I am taking the opportunity to meet up with other fellow Midland Food Bloggers, including Louise of Comida y Vida and Jo from Jo’s Kitchen. I am really looking forward to what should be a great day out.  I will let you know next week how the sausage judging went and what the highlights of this year’s festival were for me.

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