Today probably doesn’t mean much to most people, unless you live in Belgium where they are celebrating ‘Verloren maandag’ (Lost Monday) today. On this day they traditionally eat sausage rolls or baked apples in pastry so in honour of my roots I created my own sausage roll recipe, with some great winter ingredients and lovely herbs and spices.
Now what is this ‘Lost Monday’? Although it’s generally known in Belgium, this tradition is mostly celebrated in Antwerp, in the North of the country. It’s always held on the Monday following Epiphany/Nollaig na mBan/Three Kings Day but the history behind ‘Lost Monday’ is not entirely clear as there are many stories trying to explain the name and meaning.
Most stories however come down to the fact that on this day, people weren’t working and it was therefor a lost day. The reasons for them not working vary per story, some say it was because on this day civil servants had to go swear an oath after which celebrations were held, paid for by the city. To keep cost down they served sausage rolls and a baked apple (with pastry around it).
Another story says that it was the guilds who organised their New Years party for their members, which was then held in pubs and bars. The owners of those pubs and bars wanted to keep their customers in the pub as long as they could and would therefor serve them free sausage rolls, which not only kept them fed but the salt in the meat they used kept them thirsty and got them to order more drinks as well.
The last story has its origin in the harbour of Antwerp, where it’s believed that the workers were allowed to go drink, at their bosses expense. The bosses then offered them a warm snack to go along with those drinks, but to keep it cheap they got them sausage rolls made from unsellable meat and bread that would otherwise be lost.
I’m of course not going to follow that last tradition and went for good quality pork mince. You can of course also use real sausages and squeeze out their meat, but if you like creating your own flavours I’d recommend making the sausages from scratch. I added some cranberries and red onion for a sweet flavour, and mustard to give it some sharp contrast. For the herbs I went for sage and tarragon as they match pork meat perfectly.
I used ready made puff pastry as well, but you can make this yourself by mixing 125g salted butter with 250 g plain flour and 3 tbsp of ice cold water. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes, then roll out.
Makes: 6 large sausage rolls, or 18 small ones
- 500g pork mince
- 2 sheets of puff pastry (square ones, around 375g each), you can use gluten-free ones if you like
- 1 red onion
- 100g dried cranberries
- 1 teaspoon of English mustard
- 1 teaspoon of mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon of sage
- 1 teaspoon of tarragon
- 1 egg yolk (or olive oil or melted butter)
- pepper & salt
- Optional: handful of sesame seeds
Chop red onion up and mix it in with the mince and cranberries, then add mustard, mustard seeds, sage and tarragon. Season with pepper and salt and set aside.
Lay out your puff pastry sheets with the long side horizontally. Slice up in 3 parts vertically .
Knead your mince into a sausage shape and place it at the bottom of your pastry. If you want the sausage to be visible, make sure to go over the edges a little bit as the pastry will expand in the oven, but the meat wont. Brush some egg yolk along the sides and roll up your pastry. You can now slice up the pastry in more pieces if you want bitesize rolls or leave it as it is for larger sausage rolls. Brush some more egg yolk on top for a golden-brown and shiny finish. You can add some sesame seeds on top if you prefer and slice two diagonal cuts at the top, but both are optional.
Place in the oven at 180°C for 20 minutes, or until golden-brown.