“Where the hell have you been?” I demanded.
He took time to kiss me before replying. His face was cold against mine, and his lips tasted faintly and pleasantly of whisky.
“Mm, sausage for supper?” he said approvingly, sniffing at my hair, which smelled of kitchen smoke. “Good, I’m fair starved.”
“Bangers and mash,” I said. “Where have you been?”
He laughed, shaking out his plaid to get the blown snow off. “Bangers and mash? That’s food, is it?”
“Sausages with mashed potatoes,” I translated. “A nice traditional English dish, hitherto unknown in the benighted reaches of Scotland. Now, you bloody Scot, where in hell have you been for the last two days? Jenny and I were worried!”
Diana Gabaldon, Dragonfly in Amber (Chapter 33 – Thy Brother’s Keeper)
It’s a welcome home sausage for JAMMF!
I can do that.
My Englishman loves the occasional dish of comfort to remind him of home. The English get a bad wrap for food a lot of the time – even around here – but Bangers and Mash is an example of simple, economical food done right — especially when it comes with a dish of piping hot onion gravy alongside.
For those of us on this side of the pond, bangers are sausages. They got their nickname because sausages in the past, particularly those made under rationing during World War II, were made with a lot more water and would sometimes burst when cooked over too high a heat. That won’t happen with a modern sausage, so you can remove your face shield, I promise.
These days, you can find a sausage for every occasion — pork, beef or veggie means that everyone can partake — you could even try OK’s Homemade Lamb Sausage from Robbie Burns Day.
Peeled russet potatoes make a great year ‘round mash, but I took advantage of the harvest season here in the Northern Hemisphere and used a fresh batch of new red-skinned potatoes from my neighbour’s garden. The skins were so thin that I just scrubbed them with a soft brush and left them on for a little added taste, texture and nutrition.
I prefer to steam potatoes that I’m going to mash in about 1″ of salted water instead of boiling them in a big pot of water. I find my method makes for lighter, fluffier, less water-logged mash. Try it and see if you agree!
To make the gravy on the stove, combine the butter and oil in a heavy-bottomed pan over med. heat. Add the onions and thyme/rosemary and stir occasionally until the onions soften and begin to colour. Lower the heat slightly and continue to cook, stirring occasionally until a deep caramel colour, about 35-45 minutes.
(In my years as a chef, I’ve caramelized a lot of onions…and unless you really have 45 minutes to stand, undisturbed, at the stove while the onions brown, it’s just so MUCH EASIER to do them in the crockpot.)
(Click on the title below for a printable version of the recipe.)
: An English classic; simple, delicious food. The crockpot version starts cooking while you’re at work, then comes together quickly for an easy end-of-day meal that everyone loves.
Crock Pot Onion Gravy:
- Onions – 2 medium
- Vegetable Oil – 2 Tble
- Butter – 1 Tble
- Fresh Thyme or Rosemary – 1 sprig
- All-Purpose Flour – ¼ Cup
- Beef, Chicken or Vegetable Stock – 2 Cups
- s+p – to taste
- Pork, Beef of Veggie Sausages – 1-2 per person
- Vegetable Oil – 1 tsp
- Potatoes, peeled and cubed – 2 lbs
- Bay Leaves – 2 (optional)
- Butter – ¼ Cup
- Half & Half (Light Cream) – ¼ to ⅓ Cup
- Horseradish or Dijon Mustard – 1 to 2 Tble (optional)
Onion gravy: Julienne the onions and add them to the crockpot along with the oil, butter, thyme/rosemary and a pinch of salt. Keep the onions from touching the edges of the crockpot so that they don’t burn. The onions will take 4½ to 5 hours on low. Stir occasionally if you’re around.
When the onions are a deep caramel, remove the thyme/rosemary sprig. Turn the crockpot to high and stir in the flour. Recover and cook for 10 minutes. Add the stock, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, while you prepare the rest of the meal.
Sausages & Mash: Preheat the oven to 400° F.
Toss the sausages with the oil in a baking pan. Cook until golden brown, turning occasionally, about 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and tent lightly with foil.
Meanwhile, place the potatoes and optional bay leaves in a medium pot with 1” of cold, salted water. Cover and bring to the boil over medium-high heat. Reduce to medium and boil, covered, until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain.
Mash the potatoes until smooth, add the butter and stir vigourously with a wooden spoon. Add the cream and optional horseradish/Dijon and stir again. Season with salt & pepper and cover to keep warm.
Assembly: Season the thickened gravy with salt & pepper.
Mound the mash in the middle of each plate and top with the sausages. Spoon over the onion gravy and serve with green peas or your favourite vegetable.
- If you don’t make the gravy, cook a few sliced onions in the pan with the sausages and serve some Dijon or English Mustard on the side.
- If you do make the onion gravy, don’t rush the onions; the darker the caramel of the onions, the richer and more flavourful the gravy.
- You can also fry the sausages on the stove top or grill them on the BBQ.
- Caramelized onions freeze very well. I often do up to 10 onions at a time, then freeze them in individual containers for use later.