Sausages in cider

This post is dedicated to two different people who, in different ways, inspired this dish which I whipped up for Iris (and me!) last night.

First person: I used to play bass in rock bands (something I’d love to find the time to do again!). The first band I played in, Innocence (in a sense), featured a slightly mad drummer called Tom. He used to live a bit out in the sticks, so I’d head round there, we would jam and try and steal his dad’s collection of Belgian beers. His mum was a great cook, and would feed us while we were playing. I used to love a sausage casserole she made, probably helped by the fact that the name of the dish was amusing to y 15 year old brain (still is, if I am honest!) – this is my attempt at replicating it.

The other dedicatee (that word didn’t get spell-checked, which is a shame as I thought I had invented it) is a chap called Greg who lives over the road from me. We went round to his house for NYE and he had acquired 20 litres of Haymaker, a magnificent Welsh cider (Greg’s from Wales originally). For some strange reason, we didn’t finish it that night and (for some even stranger reason) Greg has decided not to drink for the rest of January, so I am currently the proud custodian of the remaining 5 litres or so.

Anyway, on with the recipe. Obviously you can make this meaty or otherwise depending on the sausages you use. Whichever you go with, make sure they are decent quality – and you want simple, pork sausages, not something crazy like wild boar and marmite flavour. Veggie ones – the Cauldron range would work well here I think. Serves fourish depending on how hungry you are; it doubles pretty easily if you need.

1 tablespoon or so of olive oil

6 sausages

3 large shallots

1 punnet mushrooms

2 tablespoon of flour

1 pint medium cider

half a pint of hot water

Brown the sausages in the oil first (leave them whole for this bit – for some reason they don’t seem to brown as well once chopped up). Then turn the heat down a bit, and cook the shallots and mushrooms in the same pan. Take the sausages out and cut then into chunks (NOTE THEY WILL BE HOT AND FULL OF HOT LQUID – BE CAREFUL!). Chuck them back in the pan, turn the hear right down and stir in the flour. It will probably all clump up a bit but don’t worry. Cook it gently for about 30 secs, then pour the cider in bit by bit (keep stirring) and increase the heat. Once it’s gently bubbling, add the hot water. Leave it gently bubbling away for about 30 mins or so, stirring every few minutes. It should all thicken up nicely. Serve it with some rice or mashed potato and some nice steamed veggies on the side.

If you want to jazz it up a bit, some thyme or a spoon or two of whole grain mustard works well. I left this stuff out for Iris’s sake but chucked some mustard into mine. Nice.

A fine winter warmer – and all the alcohol from the cider boils off so even if you are doing Dry January, you will suffer no cider-fects (sorry!).

 

Pissaladiere (ish)

Did you know Jus-Rol pastry doesn’t have any dairy in it? Useful to know. I cooked Beef Wellington for a Christmas meal with my family on the 30th, using all-butter pastry but made Salmon Wellington for Jo using Jus-Rol. I had some sheets of pastry left so I knocked up a quick canapĂ© type thing with it for a NYE party we went to. It’s based very loosely on a recipe I saw ages ago for something called “pissaladiere’ and always fancied doing. This is as easy as making pizza from a base, and you can vary the toppings according to your audience (vegan, vegetarian, or omnivore!). I believe the ‘true’ pissaladiere is filled with very slowly cooked and caramelised onions and then criss-crossed with anchovies, hence the ‘ish’.

Take a sheet of puff pastry, place on some baking parchment on a baking tray. Score with a sharp knife all the way round about half an inch in from the edge – this will let the outside puff up while the middle is held down by the topping.

Brush the middle area with sun-dried tomato puree, and then arrange some asparagus spears, halved lengthways, in a criss-cross pattern over it. Add some roasted peppers or cherry tomatoes or both.

Bake in a preheated oven according to the pastry instructions or at 180 for about 15 minutes.

Some good variations are swapping the sun-dried tomato puree for pesto (vegan if necessary), or adding some sliced mozzarella or goats cheese (obviously no longer vegan!). I’m a fan of draping some anchovies over as well but that’s not to everyone’s taste!

Slice it into pieces – small for canapĂ©s or if you wanted you could serve larger pieces with a dressed salad for a starter or a light lunch.

I would have included a photo but it went too quickly! Sorry!