“It’s amazing how many people come in here and apologise for ordering sausages,” he says. “They say, oh, I’m so sorry, there’s all these wonderful dishes on the menu – but I just have to have sausages!”
No one need to be ashamed of ordering sausages at the Pipe and Glass, though – they’re the best around.
Master butcher James White’s sausages have been on the pub’s menu since day one back in 2006. They come in various guises – as part of the glorious full English served up to overnight guests, or as a ‘pub grub classic’, with good old-fashioned bubble and squeak, Two Chefs ale and sage and onion gravy.
The pub also uses James White’s sausagemeat in recipes including the delicious black pudding and sage sausage rolls which are a garnish for a Sunday roast of loin of pork (also supplied by James).
And they’re all freshly-made and delivered – often by James W’s 83-year-old dad, Tony – a couple of times a week. The pub can get through 60lb to 80lb in a week, and at an average of around five to the pound – well, that’s an awful lot of sausages.
And every one is made with huge love and care at James White’s premises in Hutton Cranswick, less than 10 miles away from South Dalton.
The tiny red-canopied shop is in an idyllic location, opposite a gorgeous village green complete with spreading horse chestnuts, lush village pond and a touchingly simple war memorial.
It’s the front for a mini empire – behind it, James has his own kitchens and slaughterhouse, kept to meticulously high standards of both hygiene and animal welfare – the Food Standards Agency officials who have to be present at every slaughtering session are always hugely complimentary, he tells us.
From slaughtering to sausage production is a matter of only a few yards – and James and his team of three see to every detail.
The sausages are made using a combination of standard ‘commercial’ pig, and an assortment of rare breeds, including British Saddlebacks and Gloucester Old Spot. It’s a delicate balance, James says.
“We couldn’t just use the rare breeds, as there’d be way too much fat,” he explains. “But the commercial pig on its own isn’t fat enough – the sausages would be too dry. And I don’t like to add back fat, as it doesn’t break down properly – you’d end up with little lumps of it, like in a black pudding.”
The answer is a careful mix of several types of pig, and several cuts of meat – usually belly and shoulder. What else is in there?
“It’s all good stuff,” says James W. “Belly pork, shoulder pork, fine rusk, fresh herbs, and all-natural casings. I can’t give you the exact recipe, though, because then I’d have to kill you…”
The recipe means that Pipe and Glass customers occasionally question why their sausage is still pink in the middle: “Once or twice we’ve had people think it’s not cooked through, but it is, it’s just the way the meat works,” says James M.
“It’s because people have got used to cheaper, commercial sausages which use a lot of slurry,” chimes in James W. “It means you get this very even colour and texture all the way through – you don’t get that with a handmade, proper sausage.” And they really are properly handmade – so much so that the team can all identify which one of the four of them has made a particular batch.
“I learned how to make sausages from my dad,” says James W. “But I link them completely differently to both him, and all the others. I’m right-handed, but I’m sure I was meant to be left-handed – I do it back to front.”
He’s had a long learning curve, too – his mum and dad moved to Hutton Cranswick when he was 16 in 1988, buying the butcher’s as a family business.
And the Pipe and Glass customers really appreciate the quality of James W’s sausages, often stopping by the shop on the way home to pick up a few themselves.
“There are two couples from the North East who come and stay at the Pipe and Glass maybe three or four times a year,” says James W. “And they have our sausages at breakfast, then pop in here on their way home to pick up maybe 20lb of our sausages to take home!”
And perhaps the ultimate accolade? When Kate Mackenzie’s mum visits her grandchildren, she always insists on taking some James White sausages home with her.
James doesn’t just make sausages, of course: his is a general butcher’s, with pleasingly displayed information on where each day’s offering of pork, lamb and beef is sourced from – all farms nearby.
While we’re there, a customer pops in and asks James to make her up 20 sausages – she’ll call back in an hour. Another drops by for just a pound of mince. A third mischievously tell us: “This is the best butcher’s in the village. Mind, it’s the only butcher’s in the village.”
All of them are on first name terms with James, and clearly much-valued regulars. It’s what every village needs.
James White also offers a hog roast for hire. Ideally suited to outdoor/marquee venues, it doesn’t require an electrical power source. A pig can also be cooked outdoors and carved and served moving indoors.
For further information call 01377 270 243.