Sausages are pretty much an Irish staple, apparently we eat 15,000 of them a year. Always reliably in the fridge when we fancy a fry up or sausage sambo. Beyond the realms of breakfasts and quick snacks, sausages are actually incredibly useful. They are great for barbecuing, casseroles, cassoulets, coddle, stews, pasta, sandwiches, canapés and of course in stuffing.
Sausages are generally made with a lot of the cheap cuts and bits and pieces that might otherwise be thrown away which is both encouraging as far as the economy of food goes but also a little worrying when you imagine what goes into some very cheaply made sausages. A good butchers will generally make their sausages using a high percentage of pork and will use an equal ratio of cheaper bits and pieces along with more considered cuts like shoulder or belly.
Sausages are of course a global affair, represented in almost every world cuisine. Just think about Italian salamis, Spanish chorizo, French andouillette, German bratwursts, Polish cabanossi, Moroccan merquez and even the all American Hotdog.
With so much sausage going on, we think the humble Irish versions are up there with the best. With the emergence of organic farming, ethical rare breed pig rearing and the overall renaissance of Irish food has led to some excellent sausage making. You can now even find some exceptional chorizo from Gubeen which is up there with some of the best Spanish versions.
With the first two recipes, we suggest you use as good quality Irish, high pork content sausages as you can find. The quality and care put into them will really make a difference, especially when they are being had for dinner instead of breakfast. In the final recipe we use the wonderful spreadable Italian sausage nduja which is very spicy. You can now find nduja, often sold in jars in good supermarkets.
For this time of the year, dishes like this one really serve to sooth the soul. We have always found that the shortening of days and the appearance of the first morning frosts call for heartier eating, something to stick to your bones as you curl up by the fire. This is generally quick to make, especially if you have some mash already made from some other meal. We like the addition of pickled walnuts which works brilliantly with the pork sausages.
4 good quality butchers pork sausages
2 onion, peeled and roughly sliced
1 tbsp of flour
200ml of good rich stock
1 tsp of grain mustard
1 or 2 pickled walnuts sliced thinly
500g of creamy floury potatoes like Kerrs pink, scrubbed well
125ml of milk
80g of butter
Salt and pepper
Make the mash potatoes by placing the potatoes in a large saucepan of cold water, season well with salt and bring to the boil. Boil for 15 minutes before reducing the heat to low, pour off half the water, pop the lid on and let the potatoes steam for roughly 20 to 30 minutes.
Drain the potatoes and pick the skins off with a knife or your fingers. Heat the milk and butter in a small saucepan until it is simmering gently and the butter has all melted. Add enough of the milk/butter liquid to the potatoes and mash well until you have a smooth but fluffy mash. You may not need all of the liquid. Season with salt, pepper and another knob of butter.
Heat a little oil on a heavy frying pan over a medium high heat. Add the sausages and brown all over. Push the sausages to one side of the pan and add the onion, season and move around the pan until it they turn golden brown and caramelise. Add the flour and stir it well into the browned onion before adding the mustard and stock. Bring to the boil and then turn the heat down to a simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. In a nice warm casserole dish lay the hot mashed potatoes out and add the sausages and onion gravy. Add a few slices of pickled walnuts to the top if desired.
This sounds almost dreadful but believe us it is actually very very delicious. Shredded, pan fried cabbage goes so well with pasta, especially when paired with pork sausages and a good mature cheese.
300g fusili pasta
½ green cabbage, shredded
4 good pork butchers sausages
Sea salt and Black pepper
50g of butter
A little cream or creme fraiche
60g of good mature cheddar or farmhouse cheese, grated
Bring a large pan of water to boil, add pasta and a good pinch of salt, simmering until the pasta is al dente. Reserve a little of the starchy pasta water.
As best you can, cut the sausages into bite size pieces. You can of course cook them first and then cut them. Place in a large frying pan with a little oil over a medium high heat. Cook the sausages until brown all over before adding the shredded cabbage. Season with salt and pepper, add the butter and cook down for around 5 or 6 minutes. Add some of the reserve pasta water and cook for a further 10 minutes. Stir in the creme friache or cream, check for seasoning and add the grated cheese. Stir everything together until well combined and the cheese is melted and forming strings. Serve in bowls and enjoy!
Nduja is a type of very spicy Italian sausage. It is usually made with pork, mixed peppers and a mixture of spices and unlike most other sausages, it is spreadable.
The first time we had this wickedly hot but decadent sausage was in a little Italian restaurant in Stoneybatter where it was served in one of those little oil burners, the type where you put a tea light candle underneath. The sausage was melted by candle heat in the little bowl of the oil burner. It was served with crusty focaccia which you would dip into the melting sausage, our minds were blown. We buy our nduja in a jar instead of encased like a regular sausage as it makes it easier to keep and use. It mixes well into a rich butter, perfect for having drizzled over fried eggs.
30g of butter
50g of nduja
A tsp of lemon juice
A few slices of good quality fresh sourdough
A little extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
To make the nduja butter, leave the butter and nduja reach room temperature before mixing them together in a bowl, stirring in the teaspoon of lemon juice after.
Fry the eggs according to how you usually like them, seasoning them as you do it.
Toast the bread and drizzle with some good extra virgin olive oil, top with fried eggs.
Heat the nduja butter up a little before drizzling over the eggs and toast. Simple but delicious.