[Photograph: Lis Parsons]

I'll admit it: I have a hard time saying the name "bangers and mash." It comes in a close second to that other British speciality, "spotted dick," in the list of foods I can't even begin to picture without giggling. Yet Rachel Allen's take on bangers and mash in her new book Rachel's Irish Family Food is sophisticated enough to warrant my serious attention.

Her simple pork sausages are bound lightly with egg, bread crumbs, and a bit of garlic and parsley to season. Instead of going through with the trouble of casing the mixture, she simply rolls them into small, breakfast-sized links and gives them a slow brown on the stovetop. And in lieu of ordinary potatoes to serve alongside, Allen advocates for a verdant colcannon mash with green cabbage made velvety soft from the buttery mashed russets. A dollop of quick stovetop applesauce adds a contrasting sweet-tart tang to each bite.

Why I picked this recipe: Allen says that there's nothing more comforting than a plate of bangers and mash. I tend to agree. Picking this updated version was a no-brainer.

What worked: Homemade sausage is almost always worth the extra effort; Allen's recipe is no exception. Paired with creamy and buttery colcannon and sweet-tart applesauce, these casing-less sausages make a fantastically comforting meal.

What didn't: Despite its presence in the "weeknights" chapter, this dinner takes a little more time and effort than I'm used to throwing out on a random Wednesday. Save it for a weekend or a night when you're feeling particularly energized.

Suggested tweaks: The flavor profile of the sausage is pretty simple. Consider adding crushed pepper, fennel seeds, or smoked paprika for variety. Kale would make a fine substitution for cabbage in the colcannon should you want to bump up the nutritional profile a bit.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Rachel's Irish Family Food to give away this week.

About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer out of Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American, Berkeleyside NOSH, and blogs at cookingwolves.wordpress.com.


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