I love a good sausage casserole – it’s a food from my childhood, and one that my mum sometimes still makes for me. She says ‘I’ve made your Favourite’. It’s a lovely phrase, full of warmth and cosiness, and also brimming with anticipation. That capital letter is in there on purpose, too – it’s not my favourite food *ever*, but it’s still my Favourite. It’s hard to explain…
Anyway, I made a fancy sausage casserole of late, which is nothing like my mum’s and, in many ways, not nearly as good, but it had its own rich, sausagey charm. I tried to be mindful of the ingredients I was using as I went along, because usually when I make any kind of stew it’s a free for all. It is still a little like that, because I got caught up in the kitchen moment and started adding as though it were a matter of urgency. I hadn’t really realised it before, but I do feel that way while I’m cooking, as though I have to get the flavour right as quickly as possible before it’s TOO LATE. I don’t know what this says about me. Probably that I’m a better cook than I am blogger, but I do my best, Gorluvme.
The picture shows the main ingredients in the casserole, which are:
- one thinly sliced red onion
- two large cloves of garlic, crushed (on top of the onion)
- several stems of thyme
- one stick of celery
- six pork sausages
- one tin of potatoes
- one tin of chopped tomatoes
- one chorizo ring, peeled and cubed
- 125g pack of button mushrooms, halved or quartered as necessary
- two dried arbol chilis
Did you notice the heinous addition of tinned potatoes? I know that a lot of people disapprove of tinned potatoes on principle, but I maintain that they’re a handy cupboard staple, even if you do feel like a berk buying them.
I sauteed the onion, garlic and thyme (stripped from its branches) in a mild olive oil for three or four minutes over a medium high heat. When the onion was softened and the garlic and thyme were fragrant, I added the chorizo and cooked until the colour of the chorizo had taken over the pot, like an invading army of deliciousness. The mushrooms went in next along with a good pinch of salt, and I cooked the whole lot for several minutes more until the shrooms seemed cooked through. Then it was time for the tomatoes, sausages chilis and celery, the latter three of which I left whole. I was hoping that the celery would impart flavour into the sauce without having to have actual bits of celery in the stew. I’m not sure how well that worked, since I didn’t do a control sauce without it – I think it may have been a wasted effort. Celery vs chorizo is no contest, in anyone’s book. Except vegetarians, I guess. The chilis definitely didn’t give the kick I was expecting, I think they needed to be split in two for all the heat and flavour to come out. I made up for it with chili flakes at a later juncture, never fear. I also half-filled the empty tomatoes tin with chicken stock and added this for more depth of flavour.
To all those ingredients, I added some red wine vinegar, some balsamic vinegar and some chipotle Tabasco sauce, along with a little more salt and black pepper. You see what I mean when I say that the specifics got lost in the cooking process? I started out well, at least. I gently simmered the whole lot for about fifteen minutes, then used kitchen scissors to cut the sausages into bits, right in the pot. It’s easier than hauling them all out on to the chopping board, or if not easier than at least a bit more fun. It’s maybe not everyone’s idea of a laugh, I’ll grant you, but fishing around with a wooden spoon and a pair of scissors, trying to cut sausages into bite-sized pieces, is entertaining to me. Once the fun was over, I continued to simmer the stew for another half hour. After this time, I tipped in the potatoes, which had been drained and sliced into chunks, along with a handful of frozen peas, then simmered for a final fifteen minutes. That’s an hour of simmering in total, which could be reduced if you were in a hurry, but a long, slow simmer is better for allowing all-important mingling of flavours.
It looks dreadful, I’ll give you that. Taking it out of the context of a warm kitchen full of the aromas of paprika, garlic and rich tomato sauce and it looks like a plate of dog food. I’ve never tried dog food, but I feel confident in saying that my posh sausages were nicer than a tin of Pedigree Chum. What a recommendation.