Sausage and mash is a great idea. It’s such a timeless combination, and its deliciousness cannot easily be disputed. But as with most good ideas, it’s generally left alone – labelled as a ‘classic’, it receives little care and attention with regard to development in comparison to other dishes. But much like those other dishes receiving said development, the sausage and mash combination is not exhausted! It has so much potential to still offer, and that is where this recipe perhaps finds its raison d’être. It successfully manages to take what is good about this traditional fare – creamy mash, crispy sausages, indulgent gravy – and adds a pleasant sweetness in the gravy along with slow roasted vegetables (naturally including peppers; see last post!). A lot of sausages themselves experiment with flavouring, adding sage here and apple there, but the innovative flavour in this dish comes from the sauce. Unlike thicker gravies that usually accompany sausage and mash, this can be compared to more of a ‘jus’ – balsamic vinegar is a more fluid substance, which supplemented only with a dash of brown sugar and thyme, avoids becoming viscous in the cooking process. I think this gives the dish a newfound elegance that arguably in the traditional version cannot be found – British comfort food is here given an element of sophistication, as the almost stodgy aspects are marginalised.
As a result, I think this recipe is the perfect beginning to a series of suggestions: the first of a few ideas for Mother’s Day. For most of the year, Mum busies herself away in the kitchen, making flawless food first time without a fuss. Whilst a bunch of flowers would not be an insufficient ‘thank you’, cooking a meal is far more personal. Without wishing to sound too cliché, a part of you goes into the pot as you cook; choosing a recipe and ‘exerting culinary effort’ is thoughtful…and you get to enjoy the results too! This recipe is a brilliant example behind this reasoning, as not only is the recipe itself bound to win over popular opinion for the reasons above; it is simple to make. Being a one-pot dish, it is difficult to go wrong – the effort this requires is only in the preparation of the vegetables, the natural infusing of flavours in the oven does the rest! So whether or not you decide to use this recipe come Sunday, consider it. A simple one-pot dish is a dish you want to have in your repertoire!
- Sausages – two per person
- Red pepper, cut into squares
- Orange pepper, cut into squares
- Salad tomatoes, quartered
- Red onion, quartered
- Balsamic vinegar
- Brown sugar
- Potatoes – 1 per person; peeled and cut into chunks
- Heat the oven to 180 degrees. Place a small amount of oil in shallow casserole dish and preheat in the oven for five minutes. Add the sausages and leave until they begin to brown, for around ten to fifteen minutes. Once the sausages have begun to brown, remove from the oven and add the quartered onion and the pepper squares.
- Return to the oven for twenty minutes, or until the peppers and onion have begun to wilt – they will be less rigid in their form, as well as the onion being less bright in its colour. At this point, add the quartered tomatoes and the components for what will make the jus. Add a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar to the dish, and shake until all the ingredients are well covered in it. Sprinkle brown sugar and thyme on top of the vegetables and sausages and then season. Return the dish to the oven.
- In a small saucepan over a medium heat, bring water to the boil. Add the chunks of potato, and lightly salt the water. The potatoes will take roughly twenty minutes to cook – they should be tender; soft to touch with a knife, but not falling apart. During this time, monitor the oven. The sausages and vegetables should cook for the remaining time whilst the potatoes boil, but ensure that in this time the vegetables do not roast too far, nor does the sauce cook dry. If the dish looks close to finishing its cooking time, turn off the oven; the dish will keep warm whilst preventing further cooking.
- When the potatoes are tender, drain and then return to the pan. Adding a dash of milk, begin to mash the potatoes either with a fork or potato masher. Gradually introduce butter until the desired consistency is reached. Season the mash, and then arrange on a plate.
- Removing the sausages from the oven, place the contents of the casserole dish on the bed of mashed potato. Season, and enjoy!