Food stuff: This little piggy goes upmarket

It used to be beef sausages if you lived in the north, pork in the south and a bit of both of you were in Wales.

Now the great British banger is being produced all over the country in a growing number of varieties ranging from grilled fish and game to duck and turkey. Gourmet sausages are a huge growth area according to Fred Taylor, who along with designer Quentin Reynolds, recently opened the UK's first sausage restaurant in central London.

"I like the idea of sausages" says Fred, who eats them daily. "They're simple and egalitarian, and similar in price to a pizza, but far more satisfying."

Up in Melton Mowbray, home of that other British delicacy, pork pie-makers Dickinson and Morris have branched out into sausages. Their new shop offers varieties such as Yorkshire Leek and Melton Smokey.

Buy your bangers here...

RK Stanley's, 6 Little Portland Street W1 (0171-462 0099). The 140-seat restaurant also has a bar serving porter, ale and stout to wash the sausages down. Main courses start from pounds 6.95.

Biggles Recent additions in this sausage shop at 66 Marylebone Lane, W1 (0171-224 5937) include kangaroo and ostrich. Adventurous owner Colin Bailey recently concocted pineapple sausages for a Caribbean party.

The Sausage Shop (8, Nottingham Street, Melton Mowbray) use Freedom pork and free range eggs in all their varieties.

Most supermarkets sell gourmet sausages. Asda's are pounds 1.79 for 8. Waitrose's sausage of the month for January is their "Gentleman's Range"; pork with piccalilli, date and chutney, pounds 1.99.

And whatever you do...

Don't prick your sausages! If they have natural casings, ie gut (which most good sausages do), you will lose the moisture if you prick them. For best results, grill or shallow fry - don't oven-cook.

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