Butchering the competition

The ACT's sausage-making champion, Cameron Fenson, has snagged his second national title at the 2013 National Sausage King competition.

Fenson travelled to Perth in February to compete against more than 500 meat monarch wannabes from around Australia in the annual Sausage King competition, run by the Meat Industry Council.

Rather than risk having his trade secrets stolen by his competitors, he prepared the sausages at his Kambah butcher shop before heading west.

Fenson, who owns the Meatways Butchery in Kambah and has been in the meat trade for more than 20 years, has been entering the annual competition since 2007. For the 2013 contest, his lamb sausages, which have hints of fresh coriander, fresh basil, garlic and pepper, took out the crown in the lamb category.

Fenson says he inherited his sausage-making flair from his father, who was also a butcher, but enjoys getting creative by concocting innovative, gourmet and even healthy sausages.

The inspiration for the winning sausage came from a pepper lamb hotpot he enjoyed at a local Chinese restaurant. From there, he set about re-creating the taste, and with natural ingredients, including his own sausage base meal made from a range of gluten-free flours, herbs and spices.

He says he spent hours perfecting the flavour, picking homegrown coriander and even sampling the cut of the four-quarter lamb he used in the mixture before it was cooked.

Fenson says creating new flavours for sausages is one of his biggest passions and, a perfectionist, he changed the recipe six times before deciding on the final portions of meat, which were of a medium grind, and the four dry ingredients that went into the mixture, piped into natural hog casing, and sent to Perth.

The most popular sausage flavours Fenson and his team sell at Meatways include pork, fennel and leek; macadamia and chicken; Texas barbecue, a sausage made of tomato, beans and sweet chilli; and his other lamb specialty which combines fresh honey, mint and rosemary.

He suggests when it comes to branching out and trying new sausage flavours that you treat your local butcher like a waiter or food critic.

''Pick the flavour of the dish you would be most likely to order at a restaurant, ask your butcher what's in them and for their opinion on the taste,'' he says.

For the correct way to cook a snag, whether on the barbecue or in the frying pan, the key is to not attack them with a fork, and be sure to rotate them evenly.

''Chunky sausages should be cooked slower than the plain English pork ones and you should never burst their skin while they are on the grill, you don't need to do that with a quality sausage as they shouldn't have too much fat in them,'' he says.

Fenson encourages anyone looking to make friends to avoid the green leafy stuff and stock up on sausages.

''You don't make friends with salad. All you need is a plain beef sausage cooked, some caramelised onion and tomato sauce. Definitely no salad or even a bun, let the sausage do the talking,'' he says.

Jenna Clarke is Canberra Times life and entertainment editor.

The story Butchering the competition first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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