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Ballencrieff Rare Pedigree Pigs - Premium Pork

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By: Ballencrieff Rare Pedigree Pigs

The Great Taste Awards are the "Oscars" of the artisan food world. Independent food producers submit a wide range of food (Air Dried Ham to White Chocolate Truffles!) to the scrutiny of over 300 independent experts. Every items starts with 25 points and points are deducted for faults. The best products are awarded stars, one star means a top quality produce, two stars is faultless and very, very good and three stars is simply superb. Any product awarded three stars has been tasted by 16 experts in four stages. For more information have a look at the GTA Website

Premium Pork Sausages from Ballencrieff Rare Pigs were awarded the coveted three stars and Best Scottish Speciality at the 2008 awards. They are made by the McLaren family on the family farm in East Lothian. After farming for three generations they went through two pivotal changes, the first was to move from intensive pig farming with 100 sows to rearing a small number of slow growing rare breed pigs such as Gloucester Old Spot and Saddlebacks with around 40 sows. The second was to begin to make their own sausages and bacon. The now make around 150kg of sausages which mainly sold at Edinburgh farmers markets (recently voted best produce) and mail order. They only sell pork, sausages and bacon - keeping to what they are good at.

They make a range of around 20 different sausages, most are thin, meaty sausages with plenty of course cut chunks of meat and good flavours which live up to high expectations - the Pork & Apple was sweet with apple chunks and the Pork & Mustard had a good dose of mustard seeds. All are made with plenty of meat, the Three Star winner is made with 85% meat from the rare bred pigs. Rare breeds are slow growing, this gives them time to develop fuller flavours and a good fat covering. The Ballencrieff sausages are all meaty, they will lose a fair amount of fat during cooking but are still moist and plump, the fat gives then the special taste and ensures that a relevantly thin sausages packs plenty of flavour. They are pricey - quality does not come cheap, 12 a kilo is undoubtedly expensive when Tesco Finest Sausages cost 5 but these are special!

We also tried the bacon (two stars at the 2008 awards), again this has a good fat covering and absolutely no white gunk from added water, it is a seriously good bacon for cooking or a indulgent bacon sandwich.

The website lists a coarse cut Italian sausage flavoured with fennel seeds, red wine, oregano, red pepper - this sounds like a real winner!

Overall we tried 6 different sausages and 2 bacons, it was hard to pick a favourite but it was between the Premium Pork and The Pork & Herb, we give the whole range a Gold Star 10 out of 10 in our scoring system



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