Ask Fred
Published:  01 November, 2010

I really want to introduce a special range of sausages for my Christmas trade this year something that will be a real talking point and attract new customers but I'm at a loss for ideas. DVW

I am surprised you are at a loss, as there is a huge range of exotic-sounding sausage recipes on the market that you can try.

Christmas and New Year is the party season perfect for cocktail sausages so why not try something completely different, such as a range that literally does include cocktails as fun sausages that are sure to be a talking point. A sausage that won the coveted Meat Trades Journal 'Champion of Champions' title some years ago was a Gin & Tonic Sausage. Experiment with champagne and even with mixed cocktails, adding them to the basic sausage mix.

You could try a Margarita (Silver Tequila, Triple Sec, Lemon Juice) a Sidecar (Cognac, Cointreau and Lemon Juice), a Bronx (Gin, Rosso Vermouth, Dry Vermouth and Orange Juice) and a Martini (Gin, Dry Vermouth, Orange Bitters).

You would need to experiment with the balance of flavours and do not expect to make a profit with such expensive ingredients they would be purely a fun talking point for Christmas that should boost customer interest. If successful, you could repeat with a range of cocktail sausages for Valentine's Day Kiss and Tell, Lazy Lover and, dare I suggest it, Sex on the Beach.

Like all butchers I get very busy at Christmas and it always irritates me when people whom I haven't seen for 12 months suddenly walk through the door expecting me to supply them with their festive meals. Is there anything I can do to discourage them? BH

It never ceases to amaze me when this issue crops up, as it seems to every year. Do you seriously want to discourage people from spending money in your shop? They may only shop with you once a year, but take it as a compliment that they are trusting you with what is probably their most important meal occasion of the year.

Far from discouraging them, you should encourage them to shop with you more often by offering an incentive to come back again soon. This can be done by printing vouchers with offers for use in the New Year for example, why not offer a free pound of sausages for every 15 spent?

You should also focus on building a database of customers' names and contact details easily done if they are ordering meat and poultry for Christmas so that you can contact them at other times of the year, rather than waiting for them to contact you.

The only other thing you can do is treat the situation with humour. Commission a local cartoonist to draw a poster of you under the heading 'A butcher is not just for Christmas' and put it up in the shop. It will be a talking point at least.

Do you have any tips for making a three-bird roast, as I'd like to try some. TH

Three-bird roasts consist of three different types of bird placed one inside the other, each one separated by stuffing and fruit.

Each bird is fully boned out and stuffed. The outer bird, which is tied back into shape after boning, is the biggest, of course, with turkey and goose usually vying for the honour of accommodating a small duck, pheasant or chicken.

When cooked, the bird can be easily carved at the table and there is no waste. In terms of tips, do make sure that you take the skin off the birds that are placed inside the largest one in order to ensure better cooking and a superior eating quality.

Leave the skin on the outer bird. If using duck, try to select one that is not too fat. And, if using fruit, make sure it is pre-soaked dried.