Thursday, 1 December 2011

Sausage action

As part of a radical change in cooking style, I thought I'd post a recipe for braised meat with mashed potato and gravy.

If you can cook simple recipes like bangers and mash properly then you will be surprised how impressed your friends and family will be.  I make it as a stew of sorts, which I feel lends depth of flavour to the sauce and makes the sausages lovely and tender.  As always, use the best pork sausages you can get, i.e. rare breed (they're not that expensive and it's worth finding a decent local farm shop or butcher) and a decent stock (i.e. not bisto granules).  You can add a bouquet garni of herbs if you wish but personally I like the basic version just fine - the caramelised onions have plenty of flavour on their own.

Make this with Quorn sausages and I will fight you.  The better alternative for vegetarians, to my mind, is to make the gravy with vegetable stock, sprinkle the mash with mature cheddar and grill it - a variation I usually do for my mum.

Ingredients (to serve four):
  • Eight proper, fat, good quality pork sausages
  • 2-3 fairly big onions, sliced into thin half moons
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • Generous glass of white wine or cider (optional)
  • 2 x large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 75g butter
  • 3-4 medium sized Maris Piper potatoes
  • 50ml whole milk
  • 1 tsp English mustard
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Put your sausages in a thick, heavy based pan with no oil (good tip I learned from my chef friend).  Quickly brown the sausages on all side and remove them to a plate.
  2. Turn the heat down to medium-low.  Throw in 25g of butter and the onions and then the garlic.  Season, cover and sweat for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are golden and caramelised.  Do it this way and I guarantee you won't have to add extra sugar like many recipes recommend.
  3. While this is going on, peel your potatoes, cut them into chunks, put them in a saucepan, cover them with cold slightly salted water and bring themto the boil.  Simmer briskly for 15-20 minutes until tender - the potatoes should slide off a sharp knife easily but without turning into mush.  When they're ready, put them back on an EXTREMELY low heat (if you're using an electric hob, just put them on the ring they were on but with the heat off) for about a minute, shaking occasionally, so that the water evaporates, then remove the pan from the heat so that it doesn't scorch.
  4. When your onions are ready, stir in the flour and cook it out.  This is a "roux" of sorts that will thicken your gravy without that pasty flour taste (or lumps).  Deglaze the pan with the white wine.  When it's almost evaporated, chuck in the sausages and the stock, bring it to the boil and reduce it to a simmer.  Cook about 15 minutes until the sausages are cooked through.
  5. To make the mash, heat the milk in the microwave.  Add a bit of salt and pepper, mash the potatoes, then add the butter and milk until it's at the consistency you like (some like it very creamy, others prefer it fluffy).  Finish off with a bit of English mustard.
  6. Serve in a warmed shallow bowl/pasta dish with a liberal splash of gravy, with more gravy in a jug on the side.

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