Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Soothing Sausage Stew

Firstly I’d like to say thank you for voting in my poll. Oxtail and pie came in joint winners and I’m hoping to do both this week. For the veggies amongst us, I’ll be doing a veggie pie too. Calf’s liver came next with one vote and not one of you voted for Ox heart. Wimps!

Anyway. Back to the post. Soothing Sausage Stew.

I have always called this my sausage casserole, but apparently a casserole is cooked in the oven, not on the hob. This has always been cooked on the hob so it is, technically, a stew. Not a Casserole. Whatever it is, it’s soothing, warming and packed full of flavour and goodness. 

Everyone knows that chicken soup is good for colds and so is my sausage stew. Given the number of colds and flus everyone is suffering from at the moment, I feel I have a duty to share this recipe! It’s a pretty simple one, and you can swap and choose the ingredients according to what’s in your fridge. This is what I did….

2 onions
2 peppers (whatever colour you have)
1 and a half large courgettes
2 medium aubergines
250g mushrooms
4 cloves of garlic
3 standard size tins tomatoes
2 standard size tins kidney beans (or whatever beans you have to hand)
12 sausages (you could skip these and use more beans/vege or use veggie sausages)
100g streaky bacon (if you have any lurking in the fridge)
300mls beef stock (or veggie stock if you prefer)
2 tbsp tomato puree
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs of fresh thyme (or dried mixed herbs)
Splash of Worcestershire sauce (or Henderson’s relish)
2 tsp hot paprika (or standard paprika with a splash of Tabasco sauce)
olive oil
Parmesan rind (whenever you finish off a triangle of Parmesan freeze the rind, it’s perfect for adding richness to these kind of dishes)

This made 6 servings of sausage stew and one serving of bean stew. 

Dice the onions and fry in some olive oil a very large pan. Once very soft, but not coloured add the garlic (sliced finely) peppers (diced), courgettes (halved lengthways and sliced) and aubergines (chopped roughly). Fry on a low to medium heat for about 15 minutes, until soft. Add more olive oil as and when needed. Add the mushrooms (sliced) and fry for a further 5 minutes. 

Make up the beef stock and add to the pan along with the tinned tomatoes, tomato puree, herbs and bay leaves, Worcestershire sauce, paprika and Parmesan rind. If you have some spare, add some red wine at this point. Having not been brought up in Sheffield, Henderson’s isn’t the be all and end all for me and I do prefer Worcestershire sauce. I hope you don’t hold it against me; I just prefer the richness of Worcestershire sauce.

Let everything cook away on a low heat, with the lid on, for a good hour or so. Just before the hour is up fry the sausages on a medium to high heat. You want to colour them, not cook them through. Add to the stew. Keep the lid off now, to help thicken the stew up.

I used tomato sausages from my favourite Castle Market butcher - W Bunting & Son. They weren’t incredibly cheap at almost a fiver for 12, but they were enormous, freshly made, free of gristle and good. Well worth the price. I used tomato flavour, but you can use plain or whatever flavour you fancy. If you’re also using bacon, chop it and fry quickly now. Once it’s starting to crisp, add it to the stew.

Allow everything to cook for about 20 minutes until the sausages are cooked. Drain the beans and add to the stew. Give everything 10 minutes or so and it’ll be ready to serve.  

If you have guests for dinner, and they’re running late (as mine often are), this is fine to sit on the lowest heat on the hob for up to an hour or so. Just make sure you remove the Parmesan rind before serving!

Serve with jacket potatoes or mash. Recently I served it with mashed swede and carrot. Cool and freeze any leftovers; like many tomato based foods, this is better second time round.

And, it’s gorgeous! Truly full of goodness, but very tasty too. The recipe is so versatile and can be adapted to anyone’s taste. Make it veggie, by just using beans. Or skip the beans and use more veg. Use chicken pieces instead of the sausages and chorizo instead of the bacon. Try some firm fish, or some squid. Whatever you fancy really.

This is my favourite recipe, one that’s been with me since my student days. It’s never let me down. What’s your favourite fail-safe recipe?  

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