So, here I am, writing my very first blog post! Starting a blog is quite a scary experience for me. Thank my friend Nell for that, as she encouraged my endeavour with the comment, "blogging's for wieners." Thanks pal.
So forgive me please if I'm quite jumpy at first, and try to be gentle with me, dear imaginary reader.
I thought that I would begin this blog, with which I plan to chart my attempts to satisfy Mr Meat's hunger, with the recipe for sausage and mash. This is the first dish that I ever surprised myself with. I first made this sausage supper of sin when I was around 16. Never before had something that I had cooked myself make me actually groan when taking the fist bite. It was one of those "I'm a genius" moments that we all have from time to time. I hope that it has the same effect on you.
This is also a meal that can be done reasonably cheaply, the only expensive item being the sausages. I tend to buy the best meat I can afford and spend as little as possible on everything else, so here I bought the premier supermarket line of sausages, and took the "no frills" route for the rest of the ingredients, (apart from the herbs, unfortunately Sainsbury's Basics don't yet cover juniper berries...you can do without them though).
Sausage dinner of glory.
Taken from Nigel Slater's Appetite, (an amazing book, buy it at the next opportunity.)
Enough really nice butcher's sausages to feed everyone generously, (I used Sainsbury's Taste The Difference ones, and I certainly did taste the difference. They were on offer.)
A couple of onions per person
A few cloves of garlic
A tablespoon of flour
A few bayleaves
A few juniper berries
A couple of glugs of wine, or, (according to Nigel) marsala will also do.
About a pint of stock, from a vegetable cube is fine.
Find a large pot with a lid that can go on the hob and in the oven, which should be preheated to about 180c. I have learnt the hard way, gnawing my way through chewy sausage skins, that it's really important to brown the sausages nicely before beginning on the gravy, so pop them all into the pan with a nice lug of olive oil.
Once the sausages are reasonably brown but not cooked through, (as Nigel reminds us, they will never be evenly brown on all sides), remove them from the pan and put them on a plate. Dump the sliced onions into the hot sausage-fat and lower the heat, adding a few drops of water if they need it.
After about ten or fifteen minutes, they'll start to look soft, wilting and beautiful. Now's the time to increase the heat and caramelise those babies! Don't take it too far, but brown them rapidly until they look even softer and a lovely golden brown, gorgeous. Chuck in the bay leaves, squeeze the juniper berries to release the flavour and throw them in too.
At this point, turn the heat to medium, add the tablespoon of flour and stir to coat the onions. Give it a couple of minutes to cook off, and then add the wine, stirring quickly to avoid lumps. As it starts to thicken, add the stock bit by bit until it looks like a lovely gravy, but a bit thinner than you'd like.
Put the sausages back into the pan, ensure that the gravy comes at least halfway up the sausages and put the whole thing, covered, into the oven for about 45 minutes or an hour, depending on how thick your sausages are.
Whilst in the oven, the sausages will finish cooking and infuse their meaty goodness into the gravy, which will be bubbling away happily, reducing and concentrating the flavours. After an hour you will have a lovely, warming dinner to put on the table, or to feed your hungry, meat loving man with.
I always serve this with mash. This time I sneaked some spinach in there for added goodness, I think I got away with it...
Join us next time for more thrilling and thrifty meaty dinners!