Raglan is known for its iconic surfing culture, it’s eclectic mix of artisans and as a small town with enormous energy. It’s a vibrant community with a lot happening — including the making of some seriously good sausages.

Third generation butcher, Richard Jeffcoat from Raglan Topcut Butchery has grown up with sausages. He cut his teeth on how to make a great banger when, at the age of 19, he began working with his dad who owned Frankton Topcut Butchery for many years. Before this, there was grandad in Coromandel churning out the traditional sausage made with bread. “I have the original recipe for sausages using hand-rubbed spices and bread combined with meat that Grandad used — it’s well over 100 years old.” When asked whether these old relics ever see the light of day, Richard says they have given them a go once in a while.
“Some people like them on the BBQ — kids don’t.”

Over the summer months demand for sausages increases to the point where well over a ton of sausages are made each week. There is not only local demand to contend with, but also filling orders from businesses and customers in Auckland, Wellington, Rotorua and other places. “Dad comes out at Christmas and gives us a hand”, says Richard.
Watching Richard and butchery-hand Cole Rowley-Anderson producing a batch of their popular beef sausages gives opportunity to ask questions about the whole sausage-making process. It begins with 85 per cent lean 100 per cent beef put through a 10 mm plate to break it up.

The Dimmock mincing machine Richard has is technology from the past but it’s the best for making sausages. Large-scale sausage making set-ups these days use bowl-mixers to whip up the meat in an automated process. The meat comes out looking like ‘sizzlers’. They use plastic skins which are tougher and can cope with the process, whereas Richard only uses natural casings from pig and lamb intestines.
When Richard mixes the product with his hands between mincing it helps him assess how much, if any, extra water needs to be added to the mix.
“I know how much extra water, if any, is needed to help the sausage meat go through the mincer the second time once we’ve added the meal. You have to do this by feel”, says Richard.

The fat content in sausages is a critical issue — too much and the fat will leak out of the sausage; not enough and the sausage, when cooked, will be like rubber.
Meal, which looks like custard powder, is flour, beef bouillon, flavour and salt. It comes in a multi-mix bag made by Dunninghams, a company in business since 1921. A kg of meal to 5 kg of meat.
As the sausage-making session continues, Richard talks a little about the variety of sausages he produces. “Today we’re also making old-English beef and Guinness which are popular. This summer we’re going to give pork and cider a go. These are really popular in England”, says Richard.

When asked about preservatives, Richard puts the issue into context. Mixes come with them and we don’t add any more. If you didn’t have any preservative the customer would only get one or two days use out of them. There is no MSG used, or soy-protein added — a product some sausage makers use to ‘bulk-up’ the product because it absorbs a lot of water. Then after the second and final mincing process that’s it. From go to wo it’s taken about twenty minutes and the sausage meat is ready for filling into the casings out the back of the shop.
Again an old-fashioned water-pressured filler machine is used to push the meat into the casing tubes. Simple!

Watching Cole, who has worked at the butchery for nearly three years, manipulate the length of sausage into 6 inch lengths and then into a ‘link’ to be hung is fascinating. It takes next to no time.
Beef sausages use pig casings (intestines) while the little breakfast sausages use lamb. “I didn’t find it too hard to learn how to make sausages — took me about a week”, he says.
In all, 40 kg of beef sausages are linked and hung in the chiller within half an hour where they will set for 12 hours before being put out for sale. It’s a common misconception that there is a lot of processing involved in making sausages — quite the reverse in fact.

“I’m really conscious of getting the sausages made in the shortest time because the mincing creates heat. This meat we’re using has come from a beast slaughtered only two days ago — fresh meat”, says Richard.
A request from Richard — please give him feedback as to how you find his sausages, especially new varieties. Pork and cider will likely be trialled during the world-cup. “I also like to hear what sauces people have used, so I can give recommendations to my customers”.

The final question is an obvious one — the best way to cook a banger.
Fry over a medium heat — not too hot or the skin will burst and the fat will leak out. If necessary, add just a little oil to begin with but not too much.
“Please don’t grill them on a rack to get the fat out. It comes down to trust. If you trust your butcher to do a good product you know there isn’t too much fat in them. Don’t murder them under the grill”, says Richard with a smile.
This summer don’t be surprised if even old grandads recipe sees the light of day and his sausages using bread are for sale.

Sue Russell