It appears as though I jumped the gun and got a bit ahead of myself for last month's Charcutepalooza challenge when I made "stuffed" sausages. Marching orders from our lovely High-Preistesses of Pork, Cathy (Mrs. Wheelbarrow) and Kim (The Yummy Mummy) were for us just to "grind" meat into sausage, we were not required at that point to "stuff" said meat into casings, that is THIS month's challenge. If I were any good at all at following directions I would have caught that subtle detail, saved us a bit of work on this end, and formed our spicy merguez into patties rather than links. Oh well….I'm not complaining because our merguez-frites sandwich was an unqualified success and the practice we gained by stuffing the casings with our kitchen-aid meant that this month's challenge was that much easier, as we are now well seasoned stuffers.
As you've no doubt gleaned from the title of this post, this month's challenge takes us to the British Isles and one of the more famous of their silly named dishes.
What is it with these folks anyway, is it just me, or have they raised the craft of concocting strange names for dishes to a high art? Let's see there's "Bubble and Squeak", "Toad in the Hole", "Cullen Skink", "Black Pudding", "Bangers and Mash", and the ever popular "Spotted Dick". Excuse me?
We'll leave the skinks, toads and dicks to someone else, and today focus our efforts on Bangers and Mash, a rather lovely dish that is a combination of grilled "banger" sausages, a pile of mashed potatoes, and a rich onion gravy. This is British soul food at its best. Rumor has it that the term banger came about during WWII when the sausages were made with cheap fillers due to wartime rationing and had a nasty habit of exploding with a "BANG" when cooked….fun, huh? As if the sound and horror of the nightly blitzkrieg raids weren't enough, their food was exploding too!
As I have for the other challenges in Charcutepalooza, I first turned to Ruhlman and Polcyn's Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing for guidance, and while the book provided an excellent refresher on the mechanics of grinding and stuffing sausages, it didn't include a recipe for traditional bangers, so I had to go in search of one. The recipe you see below is an amalgam of about four different ones I found on the internet, and if I do say so, it pretty much rocks.
Unlike when we cooked the merguez, this time we took the added step of poaching the stuffed sausages first to gently cook them through, then gave them a quick grill just before eating. We did this for a few reasons. First because Heston Blumenthal seems to think its a good idea, which in my book fairly well equates to God whispering in my ear that "on the 5th day poach your sausages", and it was his instructions I followed. Second (as if getting directions straight from God weren't enough), there was to be a couple day window between our making and eating the sausages and I felt much better about having them sit in my fridge already poached as opposed to raw.
The boys heeded the call again this month with Arthas helping me to spice and grind the meat one day, and Grid, our newly minted high school graduate, working with me to stuff the casings the next. As with the other Charcutepalooza posts I'm not going to give you all the details about grinding, stuffing, smoking, curing, salting etc. because its a TON of data and I'm just too lazy. Any of you who are really interested in trying your hand at charcuterie, and I HIGHLY recommend that you do, go buy Ruhlman's book Charcuterie , everything you need is within its covers.
I will share with you my recipe for the bangers AND the Guinness-Onion gravy that I concocted for this dish. You're on your own for the mashed potatoes, because really, it's just smashed potatoes….you don't need a recipe, do you?
Cheers – Steve
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh marjoram, finely minced, or 1/4 teaspoon dried
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground mace
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, finely minced, or 1/4 teaspoon dried
- 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons fresh sage, finely minced, or 1 teaspoon dried
- 1 pound pork, cut into 1" cubes
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 12 ounces pork fat, cut into 1" cubes
- 3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
- Prepared Hog Casings
- 2 large sweet onions, sliced in half and thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 cup Guinness
- 1 cup chicken or beef stock
- 1 tablespoon honey (or more to taste)
- kosher salt and black pepper to taste
- Grind the meats, fat and spices per the instructions in "Charcuterie" or whatever other tome guides you. Stir in the breadcrumbs and the eggs and mix well.
- Form a small patty of the sausage and cook in a skillet till just cooked through. Taste for seasoning, adjusting spice and salt levels to your taste before stuffing the sausage into casings.
- When seasoned to your liking, stuff the casings per the instructions in whatever guide you are using.
- To poach your sausages, place them in a large pot of water heated to 150℉, and let them cook for 20 minutes. When cooked through, remove from the poaching pan and saute or grill immediately, or refrigerate or freeze for future use.
- Pour a tablespoon of oil into a skillet and add a tablespoon of butter. Turn the heat to medium and add the onions. Cook those, stirring often, for 20 to 25 minutes minutes, or until caramelized and golden brown.
- After the onions are well caramelized, sprinkle the flour on top and cook for another minute. Then add the Guinness and tomato paste, stir well. When that has evaporated, add the chicken or beef stock. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes to reduce and thicken. Season with salt and pepper to taste.