All the fun of the Christmas fare
The Pricewatch team has nibbled its way through a selection of festive food and graded each one – just to save you the trouble of doing so
The DIY deal €13.70 for 24
We buy our sausage meat at just under €7 a kilo in our local Superquinn and our pastry in the same store for €6.70. We add some fresh herbs, left over from the DIY stuffing featured below, an onion and some salt and pepper, and we’re good to go. They can be seasoned to your own taste and the end result is not only pleasingly irregular but also cost-effective. And they come with added feel-good factor. At least they do when things work out. When things go wrong, however, and you end up with a sticky ball of pastry that leaks sausage meat from all the wrong places, it is not so satisfying.
Verdict: A modest winner
Star rating: *****
Fallon and Byrne €2.50 for one
This is the most expensive sausage roll we tried as part of the Pricewatch Christmas blow-out. It is massive, and you would want a fierce big mouth to get through it in a few mouthfuls. But make no mistake, this is the best store-bought sausage roll you will find this year. The meat is flecked with onion and herbs and is gorgeous, while the pastry is crumbly, buttery and incredibly rich. You might need to be incredibly rich to buy many, though.
Verdict: Meaty greatness
Star rating: ****
Marks and Spencer €3.29 for 20
These are nice and simple. The pork is lovely and the pastry is flaky but not impossible to manage. They are salty and greasy but not excessively so, and a roll can easily be demolished in a single, dainty mouthful. This store does a great line in party food – as exemplified by these – and if you shop smart in the run-up to Christmas, you should be able to get them at a discount as part of some class of three-for-two deal.
Verdict: Effortless loveliness
Tesco €2.40 for six
These are made with 29 per cent pork and, while the pastry is okay, we were not overly enamoured with the filling. These are a good deal more substantial than their rivals, but we’re not entirely convinced that more is better. They are fairly cheap and will easily fill a gap on a party platter if you are not overly concerned about making a good impression.
Verdict:Off the pace
Made with just 20 per cent pork, these are the least meaty sausage rolls on trial. What they lack in sausage meat, they more than make up for in E-numbers – there were a whole lot of suspicious-looking numbers among the ingredients. They actually taste fine, if a little salty. They were very greasy and the stain they left on a napkin had us wondering what they would do to our overworked arteries.
Star rating: ***
Marks and Spencer €3.99 for four
We reckon anything that includes the words Marks, Spencer, ultimate and all-butter is bound to be pretty great and we are not disappointed here. These are fabulous. The filling is ample and almost perfect. It has a lovely citrusy sharpness that is not to be found elsewhere. This sharp mixed-peel flavour offsets the sugary glaze nicely and, while your heart may not thank you for eating too much of this pastry, your taste buds certainly will. They are Irish-made, too.
Star rating: *****
Tesco €2 for four
These are not pies but logs. They look lovely but we were disappointed by the taste. They are not terrible but there was too much pastry and not enough filling. We were not madly keen on what there was of that, either. It was excessively sweet and the small pieces of fruit were mushy. These logs are all about the pastry but it was too heavy, too sweet and tasted like a shortbread biscuit left to go stale.
Star rating: **
Supervalu €2.30, or two for €3
These are ridiculously crumbly and almost impossible to eat without covering yourself in a fine mist of pastry. They are still rather nice. While MS had the nicest filling we tried, the Supervalu pastry was deemed to be the finest by the people who lined up to help Pricewatch this week. The pastry has a light airiness that was appealing. The fruit inside is nicely textured but the filling is very sweet.
Verdict: Pretty good
Star rating: ****
Aldi €0.99 for four
These are very good value for money and although they lack the richness of some of the more high-end competition, they are lovely. The fruit mix has a nice balance of sharp and sweet and there is plenty of it in each pie. If we were to be really picky we’d say the pastry was a little bit dense but that wouldn’t stop us eating one. Or several.