Sausages, mashed potatoes and onions – not exactly cutting edge cuisine. I know. Not even something that is new to the pages of stonesoup. But it is a classic dish and given how things are with world finances I figured it wouldn’t hurt to revisit an inexpensive family favourite.
To be honest I’ve been looking for an excuse to share something about bangers with you for a while. Over the last six months or so there’s been a bit of a revolution in the way sausages are cooked in our house. Gone is my old favourite method of baking and here to stay is a two stage process.
First I need to give credit where credit is due. It was Glen who introduced me to this new technique – a little something he picked up from his mate Heston. At first I was skeptical about whether it would work. Visions of tough old boiled sausages from my boarding school days came quickly to mind. But I’ve found that Irishmen, well one in particular, can be very persuasive when he wants to be. On this occasion, as on a few others, I’ve been happy to have been proven wrong.
The secret lies in letting the sausages gently poach rather than boil like crazy before giving them a quick flash in the frying pan to brown them up. This way they cook through to perfection without losing all their flavoursome juices like they do when you throw them raw into a hot oven or frying pan. With the poach first method they develop that comforting, soft, melt-in-the-mouth texture. A quick comparison between the pictures above and below should be worth at least a couple of thousand words to support the superiority of the poaching method. Say no more.
juicy bangers & mash with onion gravy
The type of sausage is up to you really. Most butchers offer fancy options like the duck and pistachio that I blogged about almost two years ago. But these days I’m finding that the simple pleasure (and cost effectiveness) of a good old plain pork version keeps me happy.
For details on an experiment I carried out in a bit of a Heston-esque search for mashed perfection have a look at the post ‘a mashing good time’. A little something I pulled together well before I was aware that there were fellow food scientists out there bringing a touch of glamour to the profession.
4 – 8 thick sausages
2T peanut or groundnut oil
for the onion gravy:
4 large brown onions (or 6 medium ones)
4T extra virgin olive oil
1T brown sugar
3T balsamic vinegar
1T soy sauce
1T Worcestershire sauce
1C chicken stock
for the mash:
750g ( 1 ½ lbs) potatoes (I used Dutch creams)
125 – 200g ( 4 – 7oz) salted butter
½ – 1C whole milk
First get the onions going. Peel onions, halve lengthwise then thinly slice crosswise into little half moons. Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium low and add onions. There will seem like way too many but trust me, they’ll cook down and you won’t have any problems getting rid of them. Continue to cook onions stirring periodically until they are soft and golden brown. It will take at least half an hour.
Meanwhile place your spuds, scrubbed but unpeeled in a saucepan large enough to hold them. Cover with cold water, season and bring to the boil. Simmer for 30-45 minutes or until your potatoes are very tender. Drain.
Pass potatoes through a ricer and return to the saucepan. Whisk though butter to your taste and then gradually whisk in enough milk to bring the mash to your preferred consistency. Keep warm.
While the onion and potatoes are cooking bring another large saucepan of water almost to a simmer (you want to see bubbles forming on the bottom of the pan). If you happen to have a thermometer you’re targeting around 60C (140F). Add the sausages and gently poach for 20-25minutes or until the sausages feel firm. You want to keep it just below a simmer the whole time. Drain.
When the onions are tender and golden, transfer to the saucepan you used for the sausage poaching and add remaining onion gravy ingredients. Bring to the boil and simmer until you have a lovely onion gravy consistency.
Wipe out the frying pan from the onions and heat the peanut or groundnut oil over a medium high heat. Cook sausages turning frequently until browned on all sides.
To serve, divide mash between 4 warm plates and top with bangers and a generous spoonful of onion gravy. Serve hot.