With so many butchers and supermarkets promoting locally sourced free range meat, the traditional tasty sausage is making a huge come back. Forget those nasty mass produced things that have less that 40% meat content – the trick to the perfect sausage casserole is in quality sausages.
Sausages were long produced by farmers as a way of using pieces of meat that couldn’t be sold as a joint or cut in their own right. By adding some rusk and encasing the whole thing within an intestine, the sausage was able to take its shape.
Herbs were then added during this process to enhance flavour. Pork, lamb and even beef can all be used in sausages and today the most popular variety is the hugely splendid Cumberland Sausage. There are many other regional varieties but sausages from overseas including the Toulouse from France and the spicy brands from Spain and Italy are increasing in popularity on home soil.
In some TV programmes you can’t move from the sofa without hearing about the glories of the Chorizo. The essential thing about the banger is its meaty taste and one of the best ways of making use of this magnificent product is to create a Sausage Casserole.
Obviously, sausages are the main ingredient of this meal and even if the family is surviving on a low budget this will taste so much better if you can buy free range meat and make sure that the sausage has over 60% meat content.
Chopped tomatoes, wine and any selection of mixed herbs are great additions if making your own bangers but those buying shop prepared meats may want to look for flavours which work well with their particular choice.
Some people brown the sausages for colour first of all while others just place all the ingredients together in a pot and cook on the hob or place in the oven. The casserole should be checked quite regularly to ensure that the liquids haven’t evaporated but other than that it requires little work from the cook.
Another variation is to slice some potatoes and place them on top of the casserole with a knob of butter to encase the whole dish, a kind of fusion between Lancashire hot pot and a sausage casserole. There are plenty of dishes from around the world which rely on similar principles of cooking numerous ingredients together, with soups, stews, broths and the Greek moussaka all perfect examples.
Both bacon and Worcestershire sauce and even brown sugar can be added to the mix but nothing must detract from the main ingredient. Try and vary the type of sausage that you use in order to compare the flavours and add spice mixes from reputable brands such as Schwartz if you’re hesitant about using fresh herbs. The dish is easy to freeze but make sure that it is defrosted thoroughly before re-heating and most importantly – enjoy!