SAUSAGE and mash - I cannot think of a combination that has had more of a renaissance in the last few years. So many top-class restaurants now include it on their menu that you could be forgiven for thinking it is the new foie gras.
Over the years we have tried duck, redcurrant and rosemary, pork, lemon and thyme, rabbit, apple and beetroot or pheasant and cranberry to name some of them. We have a patient and understanding butcher, though sometimes he avoids taking my calls!
A main course of bangers and mash with gravy is about as quintessentially British as cooking gets. Looking abroad, sausages tend to be harder, fattier and more heavily seasoned. Head for your local deli and you can find chorizo, bratwurst, salami and calabrese, all of which are delicious.
Kabanos are worth seeking out. A dry and slightly smoky Polish sausage they are perfect in a stew or a warm salad. Another favourite in the restaurant is lamb sausages flavoured with merguez (a North African spice).
Warm salad of kabanos, blue cheese, toasted walnuts and red onion, apricot relish
(serves 4 as a starter)
400g kabanos, cut finely
1 red onion, finely chopped
100g blue cheese
100g mixed leaves, washed
For the relish:
100g dried apricots, soaked and drained
2 tomatoes, sliced
A medium onion, diced
A red chilli, de-seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2tbsp caster sugar
2tbsp white wine vinegar
Salt and black pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 150C. Make the relish by sautéing the diced onion with the garlic in a little olive oil for two minutes then add the vinegar, sugar, tomatoes, chilli and apricots. Simmer for 20-25 minutes. Take off the heat and allow to cool a little, then whizz in a food processor. Season to taste. Place the walnuts on a metal tray and brush with a little olive oil. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes until browned. Arrange the washed leaves in four starter bowls. Scatter the sliced red onion and crumble the blue cheese over the leaves. Remove the walnuts from the oven and allow to cool before adding to the salad. Place the kabanos on a metal tray and brush lightly with olive oil. Grill for two minutes. Spoon on to the salad and add the apricot relish. Drizzle with a little olive oil and serve.
Pork and apple sausages with parsnip mash, roasted tomatoes and balsamic syrup
500g pork and apple sausages
800-900g parsnips, peeled, topped, tailed and chopped
4 large tomatoes, cut in half
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 stalk of rosemary, chopped
250ml balsamic vinegar
Salt and ground black pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Cover the chopped parsnips with water and bring to the boil. Place the sausages on a baking tray and brush with olive oil. Grill for two minutes on each side then place in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Place the halved tomatoes on a baking tray and brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with the chopped garlic, chopped rosemary, salt and black pepper. Place in the oven for 15 minutes. Pour the balsamic vinegar into a pot along with the honey and two tablespoons of water. Bring to the boil and reduce by two-thirds. Once the parsnips are soft, drain and mash with the butter. Add salt and pepper to taste. Portion the mash with sausages on top of four plates, place two roasted tomato halves on each and drizzle balsamic syrup all around.
Toad in the Hole
250g pork sausages
100g flour, sifted
150g cheddar, grated
10g parsley, chopped
Salt and ground black pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 200C. Heat a little olive oil in a pan and brown the sausages on all sides.
Whisk the eggs, milk and parsley in one bowl. In another mix the sifted flour and the grated cheddar. Gradually whisk the milk and egg mix into the flour until you have a smooth batter. Season generously. Arrange the sausages in a dish and pour over the batter. Bake for 30-45 minutes.