Citizens! Whist reclining upon a gilded palanquin and deep in thought (as is my custom) here in my hidden lair high upon the volcanic summit of Mt. Erebus in Antarctica, a Divine thought manifested itself within me! Surrounded by twin elemental furies – the fires of molten lava and the howling, ice-caked winds of the Pole, it has been decided that it is at last time to share my recipe for a true classic of British cuisine: I speak of nothing less than the intriguingly-named bangers and mash!
Bangers and mash, also known as sausages and mash, is a traditional dish of Great Britain comprising sausages served with mashed potatoes. It may consist of one of a variety of flavored sausages made of pork, lamb, or beef (often specifically Cumberland sausage). The dish is sometimes served with onion gravy, fried onions, or peas.
This dish, even when cooked at home, may be thought of as an example of pub grub, meaning it is relatively quick and easy to make in large quantities. More up-market varieties, with exotic sausages and mashes, are sold in gastropubs, with less sophisticated alternatives being available in regular public houses (pubs).
In 2009, the dish was listed as Britain’s most popular comfort food in a survey commissioned by TV channel Good Food. (TFD also feels that roast pork belly with crackling should fall into this rarefied category!)
The term bangers supposedly originated during World War I, when meat shortages resulted in sausages being made with a number of fillers, notably water, that caused them to explode when cooked. Bangers today still include approximately 10% filler made from grain, and contributes to the proper taste and texture of the sausages for this dish.
The contraction of “mashed potato” to “mashed” rather than “mash” was common among the upper-middle and upper classes in Britain up to the mid-twentieth century.
Few places in England make a finer bangers and mash than the county of Somerset, where apple farms abound and heritage-breed pigs make for unmatched sausages. I have incorporated a classic Somerset ingredient in my version of this recipe – hard apple cider! It is difficult to find good Somerset Hard Cider in the U.S., but if you can – use it! Failing that, this is my preferred brand of U.S. hard cider.
Of course, the heart and soul of this recipe is proper British bangers – the oldest family butcher in Europe (from 1515!) has an outpost in the U.S. that makes and ships classic bangers – order them here.
I also call for another classic ingredient in my onion gravy – dark British Stout beer! There is only one choice of beer with the right flavor profile for use in bangers and mash, IMHO – and this is it. I also amp up the gravy with a goodly hit of demiglace – you can buy it most inexpensively here.
One heretical but delicious change I have made to the classic onion gravy recipe is to enhance/reinforce the flavor with some roasted garlic and onion jam (which includes some balsamic vinegar) – buy it here. A bit of fresh thyme also works well in this, IMHO.
Citizens, this is a classic comfort food recipe for a reason – please, sally forth and make it at your earliest convenience!
Battle on – the Generaissimo