Sausage success for the Midlands
Local producers young and old are celebrating after their sausage recipes were named the best in the West Midlands region.
The annual Tastiest Sausage Competition, organised by Heart of England fine foods (HEFF), once again recognised the tastiest sausages created by local butchers and food producers across the region.
Expert judges attending the 'Sizzle-Off' at the Mailbox in Birmingham included celebrity chef Sophie Grigson, as well as representatives from University College Birmingham (formerly Birmingham College of Food), local restaurants, National Farmers Union and food critics.
The winner of the Tastiest Breakfast Sausage Award - for a mildly spiced sausage suitable for use in a traditional English breakfast - was Lower Clopton Farm Shop from Stratford-upon-Avon.
Meanwhile the Tastiest Speciality Sausage Award - for sausages with additional flavours - went to Walter Smith Ltd from Wolverhampton.
For the first time this year, local schools from across the midlands were invited to take part. The inaugural winners of the Schools' Best Banger competition was Karam Ginday from Joseph Leckie School in Walsall with the 'Leckie's Sizzling Sausage'.
As well as coming up with a recipe representing their county, which was made into real sausages by master butchers for the final, the competition challenged the youngsters to design a poster promoting their banger.
The winning team received the title of West Midlands Schools Best Banger and a hamper of breakfast goodies.
Celebrity judge Sophie Grigson said: "It is so exciting that we have local producers who have created such delicious recipes.
"The variety of tastes and textures of the different sausages has been wonderful and I would like to congratulate everyone who has taken part in this fantastic competition."
Sponsored by Aga Raeburn and Lucas Ingredients, the awards have run since 2001 and once again coincided with Farmhouse Breakfast Week (20-26 January). Each finalist had previously won its own county round to qualify for the final.
HEFF chief executive, Karen Davies commented: "We never fail to be impressed by the variety and standard of entries and the judges had a very tough task. The competition has become a key date in the calendar for butchers across the region and we congratulate all the winners on their efforts."
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