Bangers and Mash

Jan 12th, 2011 by Gemma

Bangers and mash is a typical British dish, usually thought of as pub food. Bangers are sausages, English sausages are a lot lighter and fluffier than their American counterparts. The term bangers is thought to come from the sausages originally (and especially during rationing) exploding under the high heat if not cooked carefully.

Since we were unable to find bangers in the supermarkets over here, and I managed to get Michael hooked on them when he visited England, we decided to make them. We already had the grinder and sausage stuffer attachments for the kitchen aid mixer so all we needed was the casings.

We went for collagen casings for a couple of reasons, they would last longer and wouldn’t need soaking or flushing.. the choice of casing had nothing at all to do with the fact that the natural ones squicked Michael out.. at all.

We started off with a recipe that became more of a vague guideline as we went along. Since it’s such a lengthy process we wanted to make sure that we got a good amount of sausages out of it, we started out with 6lb of meat… that made about 30 sausages, it would have made a few more if I’d been more consistent with linking them but I’m getting ahead of myself here.

We used 2lb of pork brisket and 4lb of pork butt! It gave a good mix of lean meat and fat. Chop into pieces (we later learned that long strips is better than chunks) and run through the grinder into a bowl.

We had some stale (not moldy!) French bread we ground up for the breadcrumbs, along with some fresh sage, I also mixed in the other seasonings here; black pepper, white pepper, salt, nutmeg (or mace), and ground mustard seed. Combine the ground meat with the seasonings and bread crumbs and mix well. You can check for seasoning by pressing a small amount into a patty and frying it off. Let the mix sit in the fridge for an hour to make sure the fat is solidify and allow the flavours to meld a little better.

Then it’s run through the grinder again, this makes the texture much finer. The friction from going through the grinder warms the mix up so chill again so all that fat is firm.

Next comes the fun part, it really helped to have two people here, I’m not sure just one could have managed. The casings are cut and arranged on the stuffer, using a little shortening to lubricate, the end is tied for now with string.

Then one person presses the meat into the top while the second guides the casings. It’s quite an art, it took til near the end for me to find the groove and get it filled right – not too full, not too empty, just right, gosh, I feel like goldilocks! Too full and you won’t be able to twist them into links, not full enough and they look like wrinkled old man body parts I shouldn’t mention, aka not very appetising.

We finished stuffing the sausages before we started twisting, just letting it pile up on a half sheet. We twisted them into lengths about 4 inches long, but as I’ve already said, I wasn’t too consistent and they were edging into 5inches by the end. Twist each sausage in the opposite direction to it’s predecessor to help them not untwist.

Let them sit a while, it helps the cases moisten and hold and then you can cut them apart safely. We refrigerated what we were going to use immediately, the rest we vacuum sealed and froze. For this dish we oven baked the sausages which left them looking rather pale, pan frying is best and gives them a nice crisp outside. We found them to be a little dense this time round, but we’re not sure if that’s a product of the stuffer or not enough breadcrumbs so we’ll have to experiment some more.

The perfect accompaniment for bangers is mashed potatoes and onion gravy (or a full English breakfast but that’s a whole other story). We’ll start with the potatoes… Peel and chop up small the potato of your choice, something nice and fluffy is best, boil until tender. Drain and then put through a ricer. You can skip this and just put it straight in the mixer but ricing will give a smooth consistent texture. Rice into the mixing bowl then with the beater mix in butter and milk or cream to your preference. I like just a little milk added, but if you like rich and creamy potatoes then go for it. Add the seasonings at this point too, to taste, I like lots of black pepper.

While everything is cooking start caramelising your onions for the gravy. I’d actually start this really early and go for the low and slow approach so you can get them evenly caramelised without burning any of them. When they’re very close to done I threw in a splash of red wine and reduced it down, it gave some extra layers of flavour to the onions and made them a marvellous colour. I reduced it down until there was literally none left in the pan, it was all in the onions, be careful not to burn.

Remove the onions from the pan and add some oil and flour to form a roux for the gravy. I like doing it in the same pan so all the bits that stuck to the bottom of the pan, all those flavours, are included in the gravy. Whisk together cooking until it’s brown. Forgive how blurred my picture of the browned roux is, but I wanted to show you the colour and that was the only photo I got of it. Making a brown roux is like a game of chicken.. one the roux generally wins with me, I wimp out and end it at a lighter brown than I should because I’m scared of burning it.

When the roux is the desired shade of brown (or whenever you get scared enough) add the stock and whisk together. Keep adding stock until it’s the consistency you want. Finally add the onions back in and stir together.

I actually made the gravy a day ahead because of time constraints and it didn’t reheat too well which is why it looks lumpy in the finished photo. Tasted damn good though!

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