Finger Food For Dark Nights

The MI5 agents came into the house by stealth, wrapped in worn, crinkled purple tissue paper. The package nestled under the tree, a ticking time bomb. On Christmas Day, a resident tore away the purple paper and the bomb exploded into lurid blues and yellows emblazoned with screaming white letters: Mick Herron. Bad Actors. A Novel.

Jackson Lamb and his cohort of disgraced spies invaded the house, filling every spare corner. Ordinary life became impossible. Appointments were missed, ski dates forgotten. One resident after another succumbed, pulled into the teeming slough of deceit, betrayal and backstabbing. Mick Herron has been called the new John Le Carré. The style is different; but the terrain, the same: MI5, underdogs, spies, counter spies, suspense and improbable victory stained by loss.

After three days, the residents raised their heads, blinking. The thrilling ordeal was over. The final deal was made, the final betrayal complete. They could ski again. But then a friend lobbed another bomb: earlier Herron novels featuring Lamb and his ragtag team had been dramatized for television. Slow Horses. Two seasons, available on a channel to which the residents subscribed (AppleTV Plus).

The siren called; the noose drew tighter. Escape was impossible. Agents surrounded the house. The dog whined and the family phoned. They were ignored.

The residents took to eating in front of the TV. New recipes became necessary. Food that could be brought from plate to mouth without looking. Smoked oysters and cream cheese on crackers. Sausage rolls. Yes, sausage rolls. On the day the residents binge-watched the entire second season. Sometimes the only way to banish the darkness of January is to dive into darkness. Slow Horses. Gary Oldman. Good luck.

Sausage Rolls for The Darkness
Yield: 4

Finger Food For Dark Nights: Sausage Rolls


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup cold butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1/3 cup (78 ml) cold water, more as needed.
  • 1 lb (4 large) flavourful sausages (try Italian-style moose, bison, caribou or local pork)
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 Tbsp water, for egg wash




  • In a food processor: add flour and salt to the bowl (of the food processor). Pulse to combine. Add butter and pulse until butter is the size of peas. With the machine running, drizzle in the water. Stop the machine and pinch a piece of dough between the fingers. If it holds together firmly, it’s ready. If it’s still crumbly, add more water, one teaspoon at a time.
  • By hand: whisk flour and salt together in a medium-sized bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or two knives. When the pieces of butter are the size of peas, drizzle in the water, tossing the dough with a fork. When all the water has been added, pinch a piece of dough between the fingers. If it holds together firmly, it’s ready. If it’s still crumbly, add water, tossing with a fork, one teaspoon at a time.
  • Lay a good-sized piece of parchment paper on a countertop. Transfer the dough onto the parchment paper. Using the parchment paper as a barrier between the dough and your hands, press the dough into a rectangle about 9 by 5 inches in size, tucking in any crumbly bits.
  • With the short end of the rectangle facing you, fold the far edge into the center and repeat with the edge nearest you. Give the dough a quarter turn, press or roll it into a rectangle and fold it the same way again. This folding technique will give the pastry the light, layered texture essential to a top-notch sausage roll.
  • Wrap the dough tightly in the parchment paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to 1 day.


  • While the dough is chilling, remove the skins from the sausages with a pair of scissors, cutting the length of each one and peeling the skin apart, keeping the sausage shape intact.
  • Preheat oven to 425℉.
  • Sprinkle a countertop with flour. Roll out the dough, dusting with flour as necessary to keep from sticking, until you have a strip of dough 24 inches long and 5 inches wide. Turn the dough so that the long edge is facing you.
  • Spread mustard on the dough, covering all but 1 1/2 inches in from each edge. Lay the sausages end to end, about 1 1/2 inches from one edge. Brush egg wash between the meat and the edge of the dough. Fold the other edge over the meat and onto the egg-washed part. Make sure the dough is sealed well and the seam is on the bottom. Brush the whole length with egg wash on all sides.
  • Cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces—you should get 16. Place one inch apart on a parchment-lined baking tray and cook for 25 minutes, until golden and crispy.
  • Serve hot or at room temperature, with honey mustard for dipping (if you trust yourself not to spill honey mustard all over you or the chesterfield).
Sausage Rolls for The Darkness
Sausage Rolls for The Darkness. Photo: Miche Genest

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