Yesterday I was at an important business meeting in a very expensive and swanky restaurant in central London. On the menu was “Boer Sausage served on a bed of potato puree with shallot accompaniment.” Let’s analyze this dish: boar is another name for pig, puree means mash, and shallot accompaniment turns out to be onion gravy. “My God,” I screamed, “they are charging £25 for banger and mash!”
When I first came to England the only places I could get banger and mash was at my mother-in-law’s house or the Happy Eater on the A563. (I never trusted the Happy Eater. I always worried about a restaurant whose logo was a man sticking his finger down his throat.) These days ‘Sausage and Mash with Onion Gravy’ is on the lunch menu of every swanky restaurant and gastro-pub in London. Why? Because people love it and it’s cheap and easy. They make a fortune out of it.
You too can make a gastro pub worthy Sausage and mash all you need to do is learn how to make a good onion gravy cause you know how to cook a sausage – right?
Ok 1.) Put a frying pan on the hob – 2.) Turn on the gas – 3.) LIGHT IT! 4) Turn down the gas to medium.
(Electric oven user’s skip instruction three.)
Fry the sausages in a little oil and stop before they turn black.
You can also grill the sausages. I don’t grill very often because I hate cleaning grease out of the grill pan. Not bothering cleaning your grill pan is good ways to make sure everything you cook tastes like old sausages.
Turn on your grill. Light it. Turn the heat down to medium, turn them periodically and once again - stop cooking before they turn black.
My favourite way to cook sausages is in the oven. It takes longer but you don’t have to pay attention to them like with frying or grilling, and the clean up is easier. Just toss them in a pan with a little oil. (I just spray them with aerosol sunflower oil) and cook for xxx at gas mark x.
The recipe for mash potatoes is – are you ready – boil some potatoes and then mash them. Ok if you want the details: peel the potatoes, and cut them into quarters and put them in to cold salted water then boil them until they are soft when you stick a fork in them. Drain them and then add a liberal amount of butter and a little milk (keep an eye on how much milk you put in. Too much and you end up with a watery mess.) Mash the suckers with a masher adding milk little by little. How lumpy or smooth you like your potatoes dictates how hard and how long you mash. I like mine creamy smooth so after the initial hand mash I use an electric whisk.
The real secret to Bangers and mash is onion gravy. The ingredient that gives gravy its gravy quality is flour - but if you just toss some flour into a liquid it becomes a lumpy mess. (If you like lumpy messes I have a sister I’d like to introduce you to. ) To make flour work in gravy you have to cook it – fry it actually.
Cut up a couple of onions fine, add some oil in a saucepan sauté them to the point right before they turn brown.
In a small saucepan – add two tablespoons of oil (or butter if you don’t care about your arteries) and heat on medium. Tilt the pan so the oil is on one side and toss in a tablespoon of flour in the other side of the pan. Then slowly with a wooden spoon mix the flour into the oil until you get a cooked floury blob. Make some chicken stock with an oxo cube and slowly add that to the blob. Then pour the whole thing over the sautéed onions and let it simmer for at least xxx – the longer the better.
Presentation is the cooking term for putting food on a plate. There really is not much difference between the sausage and mash you get in a transport café and at the Savoy. The only difference is presentation. At the greasy spoon they throw it on a plate - at the restaurant they place it on the plate. I like to place three sausages in a tepee type configuration over a bed of mash and pour the gravy over that. And then I add that magical ingredient that changes any meal from an ‘eh’ to an ‘ooooh’ - a tiny sprinkling of dried parsley. It does fuck all for the flavour but it makes any meal look like you cared - and looking like you care is a skill you obviously have to work on - or you’d still be married.