I was not expecting to be up this week, in fact I thought I was up next month...and I had not finalised my choice but we had this for dinner this evening and it reminded me just how good it is! Hope you all like it too. I have made this with nice butchers sausages and it is delicious. But more recently I have made it with M&S speciality sausages - chorizo ones (they also have venison which I'd say would also be delicious!) - and it was plate-lickingly-good!
This recipe is a Nigel Slater classic from Appetite. He writes about food so beautifully I shall just transcribe as it appears in the book.
a sausage and mash supper
It is worth pinpointing the heart and soul of a dish, otherwise the whole thing never quite hits the spot and, frankly, you might as well not have bothered. Sausage and mash is one of the great suppers of all time, but the more I cook the more I have come to realise that the crucial part is neither the sausages nor the potatoes but the accompanying puddle of dark, oniony, mustard-flecked gravy to squash into your mound of mash. What first appears to be just a bonus is in fact what brings the whole dish together. You can add anything that works naturally with pork to the basic gravy: mustard, juniper berries, chopped thyme or sage leaves, fennel seeds or anything aniseedy such as Chinese five-spice powder. Best of all, in terms of lusciousness and flavour, is to cook the sausages in the gravy.
[b]Butter - for mashing the potatoes & softening the onions
sausages - the herby butchers type, about 2 or 3 plump ones each
onions - a medium -to-large one per person
seasoning - 1 or 2 only of : juniper berries, thyme, fennel seeds, bay leaves
flour - a tablespoon or two for thickening the gravy
booze to enrich the gravy - a wine glass of marsala or red wine
stock - from a cube is fine, about 250mls should be enough to feed 3 or 4
floury potaotes 2 or 3 medium ones per person
melt the butter in a frying pan, you need just enough to coat the bottom, add the sausages. The fat that comes from them should stop the butter from burning, but keep the heat quite gentle. Let them colour lightly, turning them over from time to time. The laws of nature will ensure that they won't brown evenly on all sides. As they cook, peel the onions, halve them, then cut each half into about 6 wedges. Now remove the browned sausages and place them in a small roasting tin, add the onions to the pan. Let them cook slowly in the butter and sausage fat, shoving them round the pan from time to time to stop them burning, until they are soft and deep gold. They should be soft enough to squash between your fingers. Expect this to take about 20mins.
Set the oven to 180 / gas mark 4.
Now add the seasonings. I suggest 8 or 10 juniper berries, lightly crushed, or a small palmful of chopped thyme leaves or a teaspoonful of fennel seeds. Bay leaves will work with any of them. Turn up the heat so that the onions brown quickly and sprinkle in a little flour. A tablespoon or 2 should be enough. Let it cook for a minute or so, moving the onions around the pan so they don't burn (although they do need to colour deeply), then pour in the Marsala or wine and the stock and let it come to the boil. As you stir, you will see the gravy thicken. Now season with a little salt & some black pepper (unless your sausages are very peppery), and a tablespoon (or more if you like) of dijon mustard. Pour this sauce over the sausages in the roasting tin and place in the oven. They are ready when they are cooked right through & the gravy is thick and bubbling. The timing, as always, will depend on the type and thickness of the sausages, the variety of onions etc but you are looking at about 40mins.
Meanwhile, peel the potatoes & boil them in salted water until they are tender to the point of a knife. Drain them and mash with a little butter (you need a thick slice or so but no more), then serve with the sausages and their gravy. The joyous bit comes as you squash the potatoes into the gravy through the tines of your fork.