Jackbit... 'a nice bit o'jackbit'... food! From a very early age food or more so the preparation of food and providing delicious meals has been a central focus in my family life. I have vivid memories of my great-grandmas 'back kitchen' (as it was referred to), it always had the most amazing aroma. She made fresh bread early each morning and although I could have been no more than 3 or 4, I can still remember the wonderful homely comforting smell drifting down the hall from the kitchen as you entered the house at any point in the day.
My Grandma Lan (Mullaney) was raised in Yorkshire and was the eldest girl of 13 children so as a child was involved in helping her Mother cook, clean and look after the family. My Grandma (her daughter) passes down the stories of what it was like for her Mother and from her kneading bread as a small child to working as a land army girl during the War and then raising and caring for her own family, Grandma Lan was always cooking.
It was a hard life, a harsh life and although she was a strong woman who maybe didn't always show her feelings in a tactile manner, she provided warmth, love and affection through her food. This has filtered down through the generations and Grandma Lan, her daughter my Grandmother, my Mother and even myself all have a tendency to do this.
Although I smother my children with cuddles my natural healer tends to be food related, it's hard-wired, instinct. Also with friends, I'm keen to offer a meal or take something baked when visiting, it's just my way of showing I care. Whenever there is an occasion or a family gathering my natural and immediate reaction is "I'll bring some food".
After just a couple of weeks of meeting my now Husband I said I would bring round lunch one day before we headed out. There must be something in the whole 'way to a man's heart being through his stomach' as I arrived with a piping hot casserole of steak, mushrooms and ale, to this day he's jests this was what sealed the deal. It was at this point I was introduced to the term 'jackbit'. Despite only living a few miles from Wigan, it was a word I had never heard of. Amongst many new words taken from my Wiganese Husband I must admit that jackbit is my favourite.
Everyone has an old faithful recipe or something that they 'do', mine is 'Sausage Plaits'. It's not elegant or fancy in fact it's embarrassingly easy. It would be a bit of a cheek to call it a recipe, more a shopping list of ingredients you simply throw together but I cannot tell you how many times I have made these and they have gone down a storm, a real crowd pleaser.
packet of puff pastry
packet of puff pastry
good quality sausages
black onion seeds
One thing I would say is that you can make this perfectly well with normal sausage meat, normal sage and onion stuffing and plain old apple sauce but I find that using good outdoor reared Cumberland or Lincolnshire sausages best. Also, notch up your stuffing and apple sauce. Again it's fine to use the generic ones, and I certainly have used these in the past if I've rustled one up at last minute but personally I love using homemade apple sauce with a splash of cider and my favourite stuffing is the Shropshire Spice Gourmet stuffing mix with cider, apple and sage. It has lovely pieces of red apple and it makes the difference.
Roll out your puff pastry on a floured surface to about 10" wide by 13 1/2" long. Squeeze our sausage meat from sausages and place in middle.
make the stuffing as instructed on packet and add stuffing on top of sausage meat.
add apple sauce on top of stuffing.
now, brush beaten egg around the pastry edges. Then cut the top corners off and make diagonal cuts to bottom.
Fold over top onto sausage/stuffing/apple sauce middle.
Plait the strips over the middle, ensuring that the ends are tucked in whilst plaiting under and over where appropriate.
fold bottom flap of pastry over and tuck ends underneath onto back of plait.
brush beaten egg over pastry and sprinkle with black onion seeds. Place on oiled tray and bake in oven at 175 degrees for around 45 minutes or until golden.
Insert a metal skewer to ensure meat cooked at bottom.