I always try to plan weekly dinners in advance to save time deciding what to eat when I get home (often after 7 in the evening). Going to the supermarket I like to have an idea of at least 4 meals for the week. I almost always make a batch of my marinara sauce. I always stick a tub of marscarpone in the trolley, a bag of spinach, frozen prawns are essential as they don’t need to be defrosted. With this I can create some sort of creamy white wine sauce with spinach & prawns and then serve with linguine. Or, using my marinara sauce I can heat through the sauce, prawns & serve with fusili pasta.
On my weekend shop last week I decided I quite fancied bangers & mash. I have certain views about this dish – I don’t think pork sausages can be served with mash and a good onion gravy. It just has to be red meat! I should have thought this one out earlier though, and gone to the butchers as Sainabury’s selection of beef sausages was terrible. They only had one kind. Reluctantly I picked them up and then noticed they had venison sausages – perfect.
Cooking sausages isn’t rocket science and nor is mashed potato, so all that remained was finding a good gravy, preferably one that complimented what I had in the kitchen (peas and mint straight out of the freezer! 🙂 ) minus a few last minute additions (red onions and mushrooms). I found two! Bourguignon sauce and red onion gravy. I did what I generally do best – combined the two.
I decided to roast rather than grill/fry the sausages. I had a lot of time to kill making a gravy so there was no need for me to rush the cooking process of the sausages. I found some carrots in the fridge left over from Sunday dinner – if I didn’t use them, they would be thrown out so I thought I may as well cook them with the sausages.
There’s no rule to cooking my gravy – the only thing you really need to take time over, is caramelising the onions, cook onions too quickly, they burn – and then it’s all over – you may as well bin them – not to mention the bitter taste once they’ve passed that slow cook stage. I caramelised the onions on a low heat with two teaspoons of brown sugar with a MINIMAL drop of oil.
Before you start this – wash and chop some maris piper potatoes and put them on to cook – no need to peel them unless you are allergic to a bit of roughage.
Once this is done, add in stock (1/3 pint of beef oxo cube mixed with boiling water), half a bottle of red wine, fresh rosemary, mushrooms, handful of chopped pancetta, peppercorns and a pinch of salt.
Leaving this to simmer I went off to see to my peas and mint. It would probably be time to take the potatoes of the heat now depending on how small you chopped them – because they are being mashed, I always opt for the smaller the better – makes the job easier to deal with once they are cooked.
I cooked the peas and then hand blended them adding the mint and a touch of milk to loosen. The smell of this is amazing!
Adding chopped chives, milk, butter and seasoning, I blended the potato – this is where I got a bit excited – I over-blended the potatoes as you can see whilst chanting “no-more-lumps. No-more-lumps”. Could have done with a bit LESS blending… Whoops. Perhaps a I had a sip of that red wine whilst I was cooking…
Keeping the potatoes warm, I turned my attention back to the gravy, added some cornflour to thicken and minced one garlic clove (don’t forget to remove the germ!).
The last thing I had to do was roughly mix in the pea and mint mixture into my mashed potato.
The finished meal.
Slightly disappointed with how carried away I was with the “mashing” of the potatoes – I usually just use a normal masher so not quite sure what possessed me to try a new approach.
The taste however was fantastic and the texture of the potato wasn’t as sloppy as it looked. I certainly didn’t have any complaints.
If you insist on doing it by the book rather than my “weekday efficient” method – here are the two best recipes I found: