Bangers and mash is a funny name for a relatively simple dish. It's just sausage and mashed potatoes on this side of the pond, and thus should have been a really easy dish to recreate. I even managed to score some pretty authentic English bangers.
But I realized after doing a little research that a third component is equally important, though it doesn't get main billing: onion gravy, the glue that holds this meal together.
You'd think there would be dozens of recipes for this ubiquitous dish, but damn if every single one was either a cop-out (we're talking bouillon cubes and prepared gravy mixes) or just way too hard for a weeknight meal (Heston Blumenthal's admittedly delicious-looking version takes over 12 hours). I'd have to do this for myself.
I broke it down into parts.
For the sausages, I actually followed Blumenthal's advice and slowly poached the sausages in water, then fried them in a pan. This will require you to measure the temperature of the water with a thermometer, which may sound kind of finicky, but it works really well. If you don't have a thermometer, then you'll have to slowly sauté the sausage over medium-low heat, being careful the whole time to keep them from bursting (they are called bangers for a reason!).
Plus, it will take a while. The poaching allows a uniformly cooked sausage that still has some nice color. For the onion gravy I followed this recipe from the Telegraph, which is fairly easy and straightforward. And the mash, well, at least that part was easy.
- 2 pork sausages (preferably British bangers, though a good pork sausage would do)
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 large onion, sliced in half and thinly sliced
- 1/2 tablespoon flour
- 3/4 cup chicken or beef stock
- splash of red wine
- salt and pepper
- 2 large russet potatoes, peeled and chopped.
- 3/4 cup milk, warmed
- 5 tablespoons butter
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. Meanwhile, bring one pot of water to about 149°F, using a meat thermometer to check. Gently drop the sausages in and cook for 20 minutes, checking the temperature often to make sure it cooks properly. Also at the beginning, bring second pot of water to a boil and add the potatoes. Cook those for 20 minutes as well.
After the onions are well caramelized, sprinkle the flour on top and cook for another minute. Then add a splash of red wine. When that has evaporated, add the chicken or beef stock. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
When the sausages are done, remove them from the water and dry with some paper towels. Pour about 1 tablespoon of canola oil into a large skillet and cook them over medium heat until they are browned all over.
When the potatoes are done, drain in a colander. Pass the potatoes through a potato ricer into the empty pot, or mash them with a potato masher. Add the rest of the butter and warmed milk. Stir well and season with salt and pepper.
Add some potatoes to a plate, top with some sausage and the onion gravy. Serve.