True characters: Jane Russell, artisan food producer


My business is. . . sausages, bacon and black pudding.

It’s a family concern. . . I am the fifth generation of my family to run a pork and bacon business, it was nose to tail eating in our house as we were growing up, and always ham on Sundays.

I didn’t set out to be a sausage maker. . . My mother being full of sense suggested I should study accountancy, but I opted for mechanical engineering and happily worked for 20 years in consultancy before I decided to go back to my roots and start making sausages.

We make lots of different types of sausage. . . from our Original Irish to Toulouse, Italian, Bratwurst, Chorizo, Jalapeno Hot and now, in season, Venison.

To develop the recipe .. . we think first of all about the texture, whether coarse or fine, and then start mixing spices and herbs to get the right flavour; my husband Russell is the creative one.

My favourite is .. . our Original Irish, to me it’s like an old friend, familiar and interesting.

We don’t just make sausages .. . we are currently working with a local pig club to supply free-range pork meat to restaurants and retailers.

You’ll find us at lots of farmers’ markets around the country .. . Each market has its own community and every stall has its regular customers, who you get to know. I really enjoy the camaraderie at Naas, our local market.

Doing business in the food sector in Ireland .. . is great, as food has become the thing people will indulge themselves with, and also buy as presents for friends and family.

The next big thing in food retailing will be . .. free-range pork.

It gives me a buzz when .. . older people tell me my sausages remind them of how sausages used to taste.

The best advice I’ve ever been given. . . is, you can only do your best.

If I wasn’t doing this .. . I’d still be in engineering, but probably having to work abroad.

When I’m not working .. . I am hanging out with Russell.

My dream dinner party guests would be .. . my brothers and sisters.

And I’d cook them .. . the wing of beef that Denis would bring, with fresh horseradish from Tom’s garden. We’d put the extra leaf in the table and Barbara would arrive with the best potatoes dauphinoise. Russell would do the gravy and I’d make a tarte tatin, while Sandra would do the tunes for us to dance around the kitchen to.

Five things I always have in my larder are .. . sea salt, anchovies, Toonsbridge mozzarella, Parmesan and tinned tomatoes.

My ideal day off is spent. . . playing golf, it’s a great excuse not to garden.

I’m passionate about .. . good food and I get great pleasure from it.

I’m really good at. . . making pastry and have mended many a bridge with an apple pie.

I wish I was better at. . . planning, prioritising and paperwork.

I often imagine myself. . . being glamorous.

Not many people know this about me, but. . . I really enjoy knitting.

My guilty pleasure is .. . red wine.

In conversation with Marie-Claire Digby


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