Our cooking method for sausages adds extra flavour to the sometimes ho-hum “bangers and mash” by creating a chunky onion and tomato gravy out of the pan juices. Along with the obligatory mashed potato, this dish really does need some greens as well – green beans or broccoli, plunged into boiling water for just a few minutes. Perfect.
This is a reasonably quick dish – suitable for a weeknight dinner. It’s easy to scale up the recipe for extra guests – say, two sausages minimum per person.
For many years I eschewed the sausage. I’d had so many bad ones as a kid that I didn’t know really good ones existed. Then a few years ago they started to get “big” again; along with the foodie culture came a renewed appreciation of the sausage and all it had to offer. Certainly bad sausages still exist: those extruded atrocities of mulched meat parts encased in an engineered sheath. Not good.
A quality sausage is important: good quality ground meat – we favour pork over beef as a result of our years of eating lovely English sausages – enhanced with various spices encapsulated in a natural casing that doesn’t peel away when cooked carefully.
The sausages need to be browned nicely all over before you add the water for poaching/steaming; the browning is what gives the gravy its flavour. Take care not to overcook the onion; it should be soft and translucent – thick slices are best.
The acidity and sweetness of the tomato balances well with the saltiness of the gravy to create a flavoursome topping for your snags on their little pillows of fluffy potato.
Our recipe focuses on the sausage method. If you’re having them with mash, make sure to get suitable potatoes, boil them through, and mash with plenty of butter, a splash of milk, and salt and pepper to taste. As with this recipe, you’ll get a feel for the kind of mash you like.
8 good quality thick sausages in natural casings
1 large onion, sliced into thick rings
2 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
olive oil, salt, pepper
1 tbsp plain flour (optional)
mashed potato how you like it
Heat some olive oil in a large pan on medium and add the sausages. Brown them slowly on all sides.
After about 5 minutes push the sausages to one side and add the onion. Keep turning the sausages so they brown evenly and the onion so it doesn’t brown or burn.
Preheat the grill/broiler in your oven, or just get the oven on a low to medium setting. When the sausages are nicely browned – but not necessarily cooked in the middle – add about 1 ½ cups of water and put the lid on the pan. You can go without the lid but you’ll need a bit more water – just don’t boil it dry.
Simmer for 5-10 minutes or until the sausages are cooked through and swimming in a rich brown essence. Remove the sausages to a plate or dish and put them in the oven on a middle shelf – not right under the grill/broiler element – to stay warm and maybe brown a little more.
Add the tomatoes to the juices and simmer until they soften, adding pepper to taste and salt only if needed. If the sauce is a little runny stir about 3 tbsp cold water into the plain flour and tip it into the gravy, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. It should thicken only slightly.
Serve the sausages on a pillow of mashed potato, drizzled with tomato and onion gravy, with a green vegetable on the side.