Young chefs have come up with some banging ideas to create the perfect sausage to make diners smile.
Primary schools across the region were invited by a leading catering company to take part in the annual competition to invent a new sausage recipe.
More than 100 schools entered the competition, with recipes ranging from Ellie’s Exploding Banger, which mixed together apple, pork, beans, peppers, to the Sombrero Sizzler, which was filled with the flavours of chorizo, Spanish ham, olives, olive oil, Spanish cheese, garlic and oregano.
Youngsters also cooked up the idea of Healthy is Happy - a feast of celery, cucumber, tomatoes, onions and chicken - and the Christmas Banger - a blend of festive favourites including turkey mince, apple sauce, sage and onion stuffing.
A panel of expert judges included the managing director of competition sponsor Freeman Catering Butchers, Jamie Freeman, executive chef for Pub Culture Kieran Burke, and the founder of the Northumbrian Sausage Company, Dr Claire Watson-Lacey.
They met to consider each entry for the possible taste, texture and cooking practicalities of each sausage, based on their professional knowledge.
It never ceases to amaze us how creative and imaginative the children get with their flavour combinations.Jamie Freeman
After much deliberation the judges picked this year’s winner as Paige Simpson, six, who is a pupil at Dubmire Academy in Fence Houses.
They were wowed by her recipe for the Kicking Chicken sausage as a healthier alternative to more traditional beef and pork-based varieties.
Paige said: “I really enjoyed thinking of a new sausage recipe and can’t wait to see all the children in my school eating my new invention.”
Mr Freeman visited her school to present her with her prize, which includes a special pack of her winning-recipe sausages, an award certificate and a cheque for her school for £300, which will be used to pass on kitchen skills to pupils.
After the presentation Paige sat down with her classmates for their dinner, with her sausages on the menu for them all to enjoy.
Councillor Amy Wilson, Sunderland City Council cabinet member for environment and transport, said: “Well done Paige and congratulations to you and your school for winning this major regional cookery competition.
“Our school meals service provides healthy, nutritious food in 80 schools across our City, using the freshest available ingredients.
“We work with our health and education partners across the community to raise children and family awareness of a good balanced diet and it’s great that Paige has considered that all when coming up with a healthier sausage recipe.”
Headteacher Sarah Morrison added: “I’d like to congratulate Paige on her winning recipe, and thank Freeman’s for their generosity and for taking the time to visit our school to present the prize.
“The money presented to the school will be used to fund cookery lessons for our children.”
Mr Freeman added: “We’ve been running this ‘invent a sausage’ competition for five years now, and it’s one of the highlights of the year at Freeman’s.
“It never ceases to amaze us how creative and imaginative the children get with their flavour combinations.
“With more entries than ever before judging this year was extremely tough, but we were all agreed that Paige was a worthy winner with a healthy and tasty sausage very much on trend at the moment.”