Devils on horseback, pigs in blankets, mini sausage rolls

When it comes to Christmas, we’re all-in with food.

You can’t just have a turkey and call it done and dusted.

Otherwise, you’ll miss all the other little treats that are usually reserved for the silly season.

And let’s not forget that it’s also sensible to have food with drink 😉

So, you’re almost obliged to whip up these tasty morsels.

I’ve chosen three of the Gunstone family favourites.

1. Devils on horseback

I have absolutely no idea the real reason they’re called Devils on horseback?

But I did read somewhere, it came from Norman raiders who rode into English towns wearing rashers of bacon over their armour to scare the townspeople during the Norman conquest of England.

Sounds a bit weird and a bit of a stretch but it’s worth saying out loud and with confidence over Xmas as you share them around.

Another theory is it’s the opposite of Angels on horseback (bacon-wrapped oysters).

Who cares, really?!

The taste of sweet prunes wrapped in smoky, salty bacon, roasted until crisp with a lovely sticky centre, is all I care about.

So make sure you add these little bundles of deliciousness to your Xmas.

  • MAKES: 20
  • PREP: 5 mins
  • COOK: 10 – 15 mins

Ingredients

  • 20 prunes (pitted)
  • 10 slices of smoked streaky bacon, halved

Method

  1. Preheat an oven to 180°C/gas mark 4
  2. Wrap the prunes tightly in bacon
  3. Place on an oven tray with the bacon seam at the bottom, to prevent them unravelling
  4. Bake for around 10–15 minutes, or until the bacon is nice and crispy

2. Pigs in blankets

This is a Jamie Oliver number and will give you super-sticky, caramelised little piggies.

Yum.

  • MAKES: 12
  • PREP: 5 mins
  • COOK: 25 -30 mins

Ingredients

  • 12 rashers of higher-welfare smoked streaky bacon
  • a few sprigs of fresh woody herbs, such as sage, thyme, rosemary (optional)
  • 12 higher-welfare chipolata sausages
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1-2 teaspoons runny honey

Method

Do ahead

  1. Lay the bacon out on a board and run the sharp side of your knife along the length of the rasher to stretch it out – this makes it nice and crispy.
  2. Dot with a few herb leaves, then place a sausage at one end and roll the bacon around it until it’s wrapped up then place on a baking tray ready for cooking.

On the day

  1. Pre-heat the oven at 180°C/350°F/gas 4 and cook the Pigs in blankets for 30 mins, or until golden and cooked through.
  2. Use a fish slice to scrape the pigs in blankets from the bottom of the tray (but leave them on the tray), then add the Worcestershire sauce and give it a good shake.
  3. Drizzle in the honey, then place on a medium heat on the hob and cook until caramelised, shaking continuously to coat.

3. Grandma Gunstone’s mini sausage rolls

Tim’s Mum is a great cook.

She’s given us many tips over the years.

Tips on making shortcrust pastry, tips on gravy, tips on pie-making

And sometimes a few too many tips on what our house ‘is missing’ or ‘needs’. Lol.

When it comes to Xmas, Grandma G is always put in charge of the pigs in blankets, the mini sausage rolls...

And of course, the big one the Xmas cake!

So, here is her recipe.

Well, I’ll be honest, Grandma wouldn’t think of using bought pastry.

But sometimes, I just want to go super-easy and convenient (sorry Grandma G x).

Ingredients

  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds (optional)
  • a handful of parsley, chopped
  • freshly ground pepper for seasoning
  • 400g sausagemeat or sausages (take the meat out of casing)
  • 375g pack ready-rolled puff pastry
  • 1 beaten egg, to glaze

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.
  2. In a frying pan, saute the onions until soft/translucent and add the fennel seeds for 1 min or until fragrant (don’t burn)
  3. In a bowl, mix your sausage meat with the garlic, parsley, pepper, fennel and onions (I use my hands to do this properly)
  4. Unroll the pastry onto a board and cut in half lengthways.
  5. Divide the sausage mixture in two and spread along the length of each pastry strip in a cylinder shape, leaving a 1cm edge.
  6. Tightly roll the pastry around the sausagemeat and brush the ends with the beaten egg to secure.
  7. Cut each roll into 10 pieces, each about 2.5cm long, and place on a baking sheet.
  8. Brush more beaten egg all over the pastry.
  9. Cook for 25-35 mins until the pastry is puffed and crisp and the meat has cooked through.

NB: you can make in advance to Step 6 and freeze for approx 1 month

What’s your favourite Xmas nibble? Leave a comment…