Humble perhaps, but what would Christmas be without sausages? You can make your own special batch at Sausology in Newcastle’s Grainger Market. Rosie McGlade has some festive fun 

Sausology. The art of making delicious sausages from your favourite ingredients, which may or not be commonly associated with sausages.

It’s not a definition you’ll find in the Oxford English Dictionary because the term was really coined, or certainly favourited, by Claire Watson-Laney, director of the Northumberland Sausage Company, who opened Sausology in the Grainger Market, Newcastle, recently. But if the word conjures sizzling and irresistible smells and having a go stuffing sausage skins with flavours you’d only dared dream about, all by yourself while being egged on by experts, you’re not far off.

Dean Barbour (pictured right), in his Sausage Wizard-emblazoned fleece, Head Sausologist at Sausology, has assembled the ingredients we discussed on the phone before I arrive with appetite photographer Nicky. It’s Christmas and I’m thinking of the delicious things you put in your stuffing. Nutmeg and chestnuts. Dean’s enthusiasm is boundless. Cranberries, he suggests. Cranberry sauce. Just to put this in context, so you don’t turn your nose up immediately, Dean can already testify to having helped people make hair-raising varieties like bubble gum and chilli sausages. M&Ms and marzipan. He won’t say what they tasted like, but his customers, albeit these particular ones very young, were delighted (kids love making sausages, by the way).

“Because we’re in the Grainger Market, we can find pretty much everything in a couple of minutes,” he adds, “though some customers have also brought in their own ingredients. A man came in last week with some smoked moose sausage, a bit like chorizo, and some blue cheese and paprika. We made up a kilo and they were really nice.”

The shop, with its sparkly red walls, is well stocked with Northumberland Sausage Company favourites, from the traditional to less likely best-sellers with marmalade and fiery chilli to their names. You can get five packs of six fat beasties for a tenner. But also for a tenner, you can come in and spend up to an hour as a sausologist, bringing to life your unique vision of what a beautiful banger should be.

Dean takes out an A3 sheet of paper onto which he’s drawn a sausage so we can brainstorm our recipe scientifically. There’s a line marked ‘Flavour’, and another, ‘Texture’. My initial list is nutmeg, chestnuts and chilli. Dean suggests bacon, for taste, walnuts to add a bit of crunch, and cranberry sauce for moisture and sweetness.

His current obsession is cheese, he says, which once cooked flows through the meat in riverlets. Photographer Nicky lights up at the thought of bacon, and we settle on pretty much everything, bar, coming back to our senses, the chilli and cheese. I’m a bit nervous of the cranberry sauce, but Dean assures us it will be lovely. I’m also a little dubious about walnuts, but again, remind myself who the expert is here.

We start with 750g pork shoulder, minced, to which Dean adds 70g organic bread rusk and 20g standard seasoning: salt, pepper and mace. This is the mainstay of all NSC sausages.The walnuts and cooked chestnuts (from the health food shop next door) are chopped into chunks whose size we all carefully consider (big enough to identify). Dean spoons in half the cranberry sauce, then adds the rest of the jar as it disappears into the paste, meaning we no longer need the 150ml water you’d normally add to bind it all to the rusk. Last, the nutmeg and three rashers of chopped bacon.

The Nigella Lawson moment comes next: the filling of the skins, made of pigs’ intestines, which are lifted from their jar of water and rolled onto the rod of the sausage machine. You can only imagine her adjectives, her sideways glance…

Sausage making can be a bawdy affair. At Brocksbushes Farm Shop near Corbridge, where 6,000 people have now taken part in Northumberland Sausage Co’s two-hour sausage-making course, adults on the course are kept separate from families. Course leader Timothy Sausage once had a hen party in from Glasgow and by all accounts has never been the same since.

Back in the Grainger Market, the skins fill steadily and by the end we have a beautiful coil, like a Cumberland. By nipping and twisting it in sections, it transforms into the perfect string.

Ben, a sort of commis-sausaulogist, has heated up a frying pan and added a glob of oil. They’re delicious, reader. They’re quite sweet – I might tone down the cranberry element. Add a bit more nutmeg and bacon. And chestnuts, actually, as they’re rather subtle. The walnuts are the big surprise, a terrific addition. They stay. In our recipe, I mean, as we can now call Dean and have him make up our next speciality batch for £7.99 a kilo, ready to pick up at our convenience.

He halves what’s left into two lots for Nicky and I to share, and wraps them in brown paper with Sausage Company stickers and the ingredients written in large purple felt tip. They look lovely. We’re very proud. We pick up a few ready-made seasonal specials – Christmas Pud sausages, Santa’s Favourites – and think we’ve stumbled upon the perfect stocking fillers for friends. Who wants fizzy wine when you can have bespoke bangers?

For the true sausage lover, I recommend you purchase a voucher, so they can follow in our footsteps and make their own. Sausage heaven. Merry Christmas!

Recipes: Northumberland Sausage Co Enchiladas 

Recipes: Northumberland Sausage Co Sausage Rolls 


Sausology, Alley Two, Grainger Market, Newcastle, tel 01434 270 657
For more on the two-hour sausage-making course at Brocksbushes, visit
The Brocksbushes course is £80 per person, – check Groupon, Living Social, or Taste Club for special vouchers

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