Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Bangers and mash

Every year this time I find myself miserably longing back to London. My London is London of the weeks leading to Christmas: dark, wintry and lit by millions of Christmas lights. An image Love Actually I obsessively keep watching only reinforces.

When I moved to London and to my flat on Edgware Road I had two things I needed to do the first night. To finalize my curriculum and to find my new local. The pub, Wargrave Arms I nailed. The curriculum on the other hand... well you can guess.

Bangers and mash is the king of pub grub. At Wargrave attention was paid to the quality of the ingredients and Scott, running the kitchen back then, sourced special sausages every week from great producers, the origins of which were proudly displayed on the chalk board.

Mine came from Hakaniemi Market Hall: elk sausages (seasonal treats don't get much better than this!) and lamb sausages made in Åland. I have a sneaky feeling Scott would have approved!

This time I made mash with root veggies. But to make sure things wouldn't get too healthy, I fried bacon bits until they were gloriously crispy and spiked the mash with them. For the bangers (that's sausages for all you non-UK readers!) I made a rich, dark, deep onion gravy from caramelized onions and bathed the sausages in it until they were done. "This is what Grandma's cooking, made with love, tastes like" Tzatziki Champion, who had invited herself over for lunch, cried (I think I need to have a conversation with her to find out exactly how old she really thinks I am..!)

I am not even going to try to praise this dish. I mean look at it! Anyone can see (through their cataract-riddled ancient eyes) it was yummy!

Serves 4 generously, 6 with a bit moderation

8 quality fresh sausages (total weight about 1 kg)

Root veggie-bacon-mash:

4 large potatos
1 large carrot
2 turnips
300 g piece of swede
4 large cloves of roasted garlic (instructions here)
about 200-300 gr of butter (didn't exactly measure it with a ruler, you see)
1 tsp ground coriander seeds
1 tsp ground cumin
salt, white pepper
140 g bacon

Peel the veg and steam or cook in boiling, salted water until done (note that different veg have different cooking times - carrot takes the longest). Once they're done, mash with butter, squeeze in the paste from the roasted garlic cloves and (if needed) add some hot milk for the right consistency. Season (easy on the salt- there's quite a bit of it in bacon).

Cut bacon to cubes, fry in a pan until crisp (start with moderate heat - that way the fat rendered allows the bacon to crisp without burning), drain on kitchen towel and stir into the mash before serving.

Dark onion gravy:

3 large onions
1 tbsp butter
2 dl dark lager
2 bay leaves
1 generous tbsp balsamico
5 sprigs of thyme
4-5 dl strong stock (game if you have some)
black pepper

Peel and slice the onions. Heat the butter in a pan and soften the onions a bit. Add balsamico, thyme and bay leaves continuing caramelization process for further 30-40 minutes. Keep checking there's enough liquid in the pan so they don't burn. Then add beer and stock. Continue cooking for another 20 minutes or so until the gravy starts thickening. Then add sausages and let them stew until cooked through (add more liquid if needed). Remove the thyme and bay leaves and serve.





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