For the no doubt many of you who for whom egg-sucking and grandmothers comes to mind when seeing this recipe, my sincere apologies. My excuse for publishing what must seem such a basic and obvious recipe is simply the mounting number of quite awful plates of food purporting to be bangers and mash I have been obliged to eat in recent times – mostly due to the treble scourge of fruit “enhanced” sausages non-pork sausages and non-mushy crushed garden peas.
Regular readers of this blog will probably have seen my fairly recent post on cottage and shepherds pies. The other two standard “British classics” currently finding favour across the globe are fish and chips and bangers and mash. The steady advance of the latter dish is aided by the fact that British and Irish pork sausages (at least the massed produced varieties) are becoming increasingly available, especially (but not exclusively) in those lands with significant British and Irish diasporas. Subsequently, and unlike with shepherds and cottage pie, it’s quite possible to get authentic bangers and mash anywhere from Singapore to Santiago de Chile.
Talking of all things “authentic”, my followers will know that in culinary matters I am something of a stickler – not say a pedant when it comes to authenticity. And so far as bangers and mash is concerned there can only be one type of banger; the traditional British Isle pork sausage.
This is not to say that there is not a fair range of sausage types within that definition – from high-end handmade Cumberland coils and Lincolnshire links to the humble massed produced so-called “butchers” sausages produced by firms like Walls, Richmond and the big supermarkets – and they all have their merits, mostly depending what mood you and your fellow diners are in. Speaking for myself, if I’m feeling like a meaty, herby sausage I’ll cook up a batch of Lincolnshire sausages made by my pucker local butcher, with a 90% plus meat content and little-if-any filler or rusk. On other days however, I’m just as likely to have a hankering for the type of unctuous sausage I fell in love with in the canteen of my first art college, with as little as 50% pork content and loads of rusk.
The only constant I insist upon, in either a posh or the factory-produced sausage, is that it is basically plain, seasoned pork, with perhaps, just a touch of herbs such as sage or thyme.
Pork sausages with exotic inclusions such as onions, apples and even berries have no place in a classic bangers and mash, and as for sausages made from alternative meats, or even no meat at all!! Culinary blasphemy!
Beef, venison, wild boar, chicken or even Quorn sausages and mashed potatoes might be perfectly pleasant dishes (although I have my doubts), but they do not a classic “bangers n’ mash” make. Venison and boar in particular, lack the fat content essential for the production of a lush, juicy banger.
In any event, here is my take on the British and Irish classic, made with posh sausages on this occasion, plain creamy, buttery mashed spuds, and with their equally crucial accompaniments of rich onion gravy and mushy peas• (the current cheffy trend for minted, crushed fresh peas and / or parsley-infused mash are other culinary evils to avoid)…
Ingredients (for 2 people):
- 1 tbsp of plain oil
- 4 – 6 pork sausages
- 1 large onion roughly sliced
- 1 tspn plain flour
- 1 tspn made up English mustard
- 1 tspn Worcester Sauce
- ½ litre / 1 pint of heated rich meat stock
- 1½ lbs floury potatoes – peeled and cut up into medium dice for boiling
- 2 oz unsalted butter
- 5 fl oz single cream or full fat milk
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 can of mushy peas
∗It’s possible to make one’s own mushy peas using dried marrow-fat peas, but they never come out as well as the canned varieties.