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Cauldron's Lincolnshire veggie sausages are one of a range of vegetarian products made by Cauldron Foods and were selected by yours truly on account of them being one of very few veggie dishes sold by my local tiny supermarket when I was in need of a quick and easy supper. I bought them expecting a bland experience and was pleasantly surprised by them. The pack of four sausages cost £1.53, which is pretty reasonable by ready meal standards.
These sausages are dark brown with speckled bits, and are the shape and size of regular sausages - solid tubes about three to four inches long and one inch in diameter. They smell and taste like fake meat sausages generally do, i.e. dark and savoury, with overtones of onions and herbs. They don't have as much umami as many seitan-based vegetarian dishes, but they have somewhat less MSG. They don't actually taste like any particular meat, they are more just generically savoury in the same way that onion gravy is - dark, rich and a bit yeasty.The texture is firm but not rubbery or chewy (which is a pleasant surprise since many vegetarian products turn to mush or are too tough to eat whenever I cook them!).
I have so far tried eating them fried, BBQed, grilled, casseroled and microwaved. Touch wood, even though I am a terrible cook, I haven't managed to turn them into anything I deemed inedible yet, though my guests may not agree with me!
Good for BBQing
These sausages are better for BBQing than ones made from bound together pieces of vegetables, because they don't lose their structural integrity when you cook them, unlike the vegetable ones, which fall apart and land in the coals when you try to cook them. Plus they have an advantage over real meat that it's much harder to get food poisoning from undercooked vegetarian fake meat than it is from the genuine thing - you don't have to be too massively careful about making sure these are thoroughly and evenly cooked.
Is it fake meat?
If you don't like vegetarian foods that have a "meaty" taste or texture then stay away from these flavoured tofu sausages - they have a distinctly savoury umami-rich taste, and the texture aims to be a bit like real meat sausages (which, of course, are nothing like meat). I don't think that they taste like real meat products, but I've not had any in so many years that I wouldn't really know which veggie sausages did and which didn't taste like the real thing.
How best to eat them
The best way that I have found of using these is to make a veggie casserole out of them. Chop the sausages up, fry with an onion. Add some diced potato and whatever other vegetables you fancy, a tin of tomatoes and some herbs and enough vegetable stock to make sure it doesn't burn. Cook fast on the hob for twenty minutes or so, then slow cook a while to get the flavours to mix properly. It tastes even better with dumplings (especially the next day by which point the juices have soaked through the dumplings). So be sure to make extra to have for lunch the next day!
The packaging and product branding
The sausages come in a film covered plastic tray with a cardboard sleeve. The picture on the cardboard sleeve shows bangers and mash with onions and mushroom gravy. This seems to be aiming this product at people who like good solid food and enjoy their meat and two vegetables. Yet on the back, it makes a big thing about recycling and how it is made from non-GM foods, so I think overall it's got a bit of a hippy "alternative" feel to it.
Each sausage contains 83kcal, 5g of protein, 4.8g of carbohydrates, 4.9g of fat, 3.5g of fibre and 0.4g of sodium. That's a pretty whopping amount of sodium, so these are not exactly healthy for you no matter how alternative they look.
Ingredients and allergy advice
The sausages contain egg, soya, barley and wheat gluten. So they are not vegan. However, they don't contain any dairy. The main ingredients are tofu, onion, a very long list of seasonings, oil and binders. I'm not quite convinced that anything with a list of ingredients that long is good for me!
Isn't that really awful, a vegetarian eating fake meat things?
Is it? I don't see it myself - although I'm a bit of an agnostic in the whole "Should vegetarians eat products that taste like meat?" debate - eat whatever you want to eat folks, whose business is it anyway? And let's face it, fake meat flavour never does taste authentic anyway. I've gone hungry at restaurants enough times over the years that there are very few vegetarian things that I'll turn my nose up at.
In conclusion, it's not really an extremely healthy product. But few ready meals are. And if I'm feeling too lazy to cook properly then it's tasty enough and easy to cook. Plus it's a good way of getting some protein without too many calories.Review was cross-posted from dooyoo