Should you prick sausages before cooking?

What puts the bend in bangers?
What puts the bend in bangers? Photo: William Meppem

I can't get my scallops to sear like the ones in the cook books.

You know why they call it "food porn"? Because it's done for show and not made with love. The food in cook books is fawned upon with people painting food the right colour and fluffing up lettuce so it doesn't look limp. Seared scallops need heat. A very hot pan. I prefer a steel pan for scallops. Wait until it's shimmering hot. Season the scallops, add a dash of oil. Add scallops and cook them until beautifully seared on both sides. Allow to rest for a minute or so.

Sausages. To prick or not to prick? That is the question. L. Gamble

We once had an airline called Ansett. They used to serve sausages for breakfast. They were so full of fat that a big air bubble trapped inside would travel from one end of the sausage to the other as the plane banked, like a meaty spirit level. So full of fat but so bloody delicious. It made flying with a hangover bearable. We get this "to prick or not to prick" question every summer as people's thoughts turn to barbecues. I always think of sausages as winter food. They are so full of energy from the fat, up to 50 per cent fat by law. A good sausage is about 30 per cent fat. Italians make the best sausages, in my opinion, with decent chunks of meat and fat, well mixed, well seasoned and well spiced. If you prick a sausage you lose not only the fat but the moisture and end up with a dry sausage. The fat ends up catching fire and you have a flare-up. Cook sausages over low heat slowly. Never prick. If you don't want to eat the fat, have some salad instead.

Packed with fat and seriously tasty.

Packed with fat and seriously tasty. Photo: iStock

How long should I rest my meat after cooking? And is it really essential? R. Squires

You know when you go out to the local pub or club on "$10 Steak Special" night and you get that piece of meat that requires every millilitre of reconstituted mushroom sauce just to lubricate the mastication? Well, you too can cook like that at home. Take your steak straight from the grill and whack it on to the plate straight away. The juices, forced out of the muscles as they contract with the heat, will have no chance to be re-absorbed by the meat as the muscles relax and will sit on the plate in a magenta pool. So, give all meat a chance to rest. Some say as long as the meat was cooked but as a rule of thumb give a steak about five to 10 minutes, depending on its thickness, a joint of meat 20-30 minutes, and a chook about 15. Even sausages improve with a brief rest. Keep the meat in a warm part of the kitchen with a loose-fitting covering of aluminium foil.

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