The SmockLady, having spent the better part of the afternoon shopping for clothes with two girls, took a much needed lie-down this evening, and I volunteered to figure out what to cook for dinner. Hmm. Something easy. Something filling. Something child-friendly yet not repulsive to adults.
Aha! Bangers and Mash.
I knew we had a bag of small red potatoes in the pantry and a bunch of yellow onions too. I took the potatoes and selected one of the larger onions. Since we had small red potatoes (which we all love), I decided to infuse this traditional pub-grub dish with a little American influence and make Texas-styled smashed potatoes. I put a large pot of water on to boil while I washed and quartered the potatoes. When the water was almost at a boil (what my mom always calls a “smile on the water”, not to be confused with ” grinning like a wave on a slop bucket”) I salted it. (Never salt cold water: it can make pits in your cookware.) I added the potatoes to the boiling water and let them cook until they were tender.
Meanwhile, I cooked the sausages in another pan on the stove. Too bad we can’t find proper Lincolnshire bangers for this recipe (BTW if you click on the link there’s a good recipe on that site for bangers and mash featuring an apple-and-potato mash and a cider sauce. Yum!), but we did have some very good pork sausage links on hand. I cooked them on the lowest heat possible for a long time–that brings out the most flavor for this dish (the same would be true if you were making that other pub-grub staple, Toad in the Hole).
The potatoes were done about halfway through the bangers’ cooking time, so I drained them and slipped about 2/3 of them from their jackets (leaving some peels in makes the difference between mashed potatoes and smashed potatoes). Then I threw in a little butter, and HomeGirl mashed them, leaving them roughly mashed instead of instant-potato smooth so they’d have a rustic feel. I threw in a little salt and some freshly-ground black pepper, as well as a little bit of milk.
After the bangers were fully cooked, it was time to make the onion sauce. I removed the sausages from the pan and immediately threw in the onion, which I had diced (I love making dishes that require doing 3-4 things at one time). I added some salt and some freshly-ground black pepper, as well as about a teaspoon of butter, and I cooked the onion bits until they were caramelized.
After that, I added two cups of broth to the pan (I had chicken broth on hand, but you can use beef or vegetable) and two tablespoons of cornstarch, which I had dissolved in a little cold water. In just a few moments I had a delicious onion sauce.
I took soup bowls, placed a generous mound of the Texas-styled smashed potatoes in the middle of each bowl, and then arranged two sausages on each mound of potatoes. Then, instead of putting the onion sauce over the bangers and mash (which would be the usual way to serve it), I ladled it around the sides to make a little onion-sauce moat. That way, everyone had control over how much (or how little) onion sauce they got on their sausages and/or potatoes.
It received a general thumbs up from everyone, except our one texture freak does not like smashed potatoes. No matter: I can make it with more traditional, smooth-‘n-creamy mashed potatoes next time.
And the whole thing went so well with a Newcastle Brown Ale, it made me think we need to do Pub Grub Night instead of German Night. Bangers and Mash, Toad in the Hole, Fish and Chips, Newcastle, Guinness, Harp, Bass, shandy, etc. Heck, for the truly foolhardy, we might even attempt a few deep-fried Mars bars. (Of course, since there are no actual Mars bars ’round here, we’ll have to make do with the most reasonable substitute, deep-fried Milky Way bars).