Simple Sausage Casserole

Sometimes we can get really fed up with rice and potatoes and I do try to eat more pulses and beans for variety. This simple sausage casserole is fast, low cost, fills you up and is rather tasty. This is presented as if it is a “recipe” but this is simply making a meal stuff, no pretensions otherwise.

 

A Warming Sausage Casserole for Winter Week Nights

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients

  • 8 pork or beef link sausages (I like Lincolnshire and Cumberland ones, but any will do really)
  • 500g drained weight of canned, pre-cooked beans: kidney beans, borlotti, cannellini, pinto beans would all work, I usually mix two different cans. Drain and rinse with cold water
  • Large jar or 500ml pack of sieved/creamed tomatoes (passata)
  • 500ml water
  • Large pinch of dried mixed herbs or Herbes de Provence
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • tbspn light olive oil or your cooking oil of preference
  • A pinch of sugar, or a splash of milk if your tomatoes are particularly tart
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • If you would like to up the veg quotient, then add in small diced mushrooms and/or courgette, but avoid diced carrot as it takes too long to cook, I’ve added in some broccoli and green fresh beans for the version photographed, along with a few potatoes I boiled separately as I had a few left, not enough to feed us all, but a perfect quantity to drop in to a casserole. Either cook potatoes separately and add in towards the end, or chop small and let them cook through the sauce.

Directions

  1. Place the sausages under a medium-hot grill, they should take around 15-18 minutes but the pack will advise. Check and turn the sausages to ensure that they are browning evenly as you prepare the sauce.
  2. Warm a tablespoon of olive oil and saute the onion and garlic gently on a low-med heat in a larger sized pan. Cook until the onion is very soft.
  3. Add in the tomato passata, water, herbs and seasoning.
  4. Bring to a boil and then reduce the temperature, simmer the sauce for 10 minutes.
  5. Check the sauce seasoning and adjust, but do this from a cooled spoon of sauce, as you cannot really taste what is going on properly if it is scalding hot.
  6. Remove the sausages from the grill and add into the casserole, along with all of the drained beans.
  7. Heat through for a further 5-10 minutes, but leave for a couple of minutes to cool before serving. Sausages can be mouth-blisteringly hot straight from the pan.

Make it Healthier:

I make this sausage casserole with vegetarian sausages all the time. No-one complains, I think a flavourful sauce is the key. If you would like to reduce the amount of sausages, or stretch a smaller pack to go further, sometimes I chop them in half or thirds after grilling.

Oh No, Help Me Fix It…!

Q: My sauce is too runny? My sauce is far too thick? My sauce is exploding all over the kitchen?

A: Tomato based sauces can usually take turning up the heat for a short while to cook away some liquid if you find it is too thin or runny. If you dilute a tomato-based sauce that is too thick with just water close to serving the dish, it does tend to dilute the flavour, which is not ideal. There are three choices, use water but let the dish cook a little longer, use an appropriate stock or tomato puree+water to dilute, but puree in particular does need time to cook out as it can make a dish bitter if you add it in close to serving. An exploding sauce–turn down the heat straight away and add some liquid.

 

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My Meatloaf Recipe

Sliced Meatloaf

Sliced Meatloaf

Yes, the blogosphere is stuffed with meatloaf recipes….well, this is how I make mine, with absolutely no fuss or fancy stuff.

Ingredients (to serve 4):

  • 300g Minced Pork
  • 500g Minced Beef
  • 1 Onion, chopped very finely
  • Large pinch of Herbes de Provence
  • Tablespoon of Breadcrumbs
  • 1 Egg, Beaten
  • Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • Tablespoon of Tomato Sauce

Method:

Mix the pork, beef, breadcrumbs, egg and chopped onion together with the seasoning and herbs.  Mould into a loaf shape on a non-stick baking baking tray or place in a loaf tin.  Spread over the tomato sauce and cook in a medium hot (190 degrees Celsius) oven for about 50 minutes-1 hour, until the meatloaf is firmed up.  Allow to cool slightly before turning out onto a chopping board and slicing and serving.

Pork in a Pickling Style — A Version of Adobo Pork

Adobo Pork in a Pickling Style

Adobo Pork in a Pickling Style

This recipe for “adobo pork in a pickling style” could be a taste shock if you have not tried something like this before: not a curry, not chinese, not anything familiar really.  Pork chops, thin cut loin steaks or cubed loin are marinated in soy sauce, distilled white vinegar, lots of crushed garlic, whole black peppercorns and bay leaves, then stewed and then the heat turned up to caramelise and make a sticky sauce.  The peppercorns make this hot and the white vinegar makes it brutally sharp, while the soy sauce gives the dish amazing depth and a deep red-browny colour, with the garlic as a strong undertone but not as overwhelming as the amounts suggest.  The peppercorns soften in the marinade and then cook in the stew and sort of crush in your mouth with a fiery surprise.  Wonderful.

This dish is an adaptation of an adaptation.  The original recipe came to our family via Indian actress Madhur Jaffrey’s first/early celebrity cookbook from the 1970’s, which I cannot trace now, but she was inspired by a Filipino classic dish, adobo pork & chicken for which no standard recipe exists.  Jaffrey anyway had a tendency to over-oil/over-ghee her recipes, and whatever cut of pork she suggested we changed that along the way too.  I have to say this is also a very fickle dish, sometimes the pork does not seem to want to be anything other than solid and hard, other times it is perfect melt in the mouth and yet it can flake away to nothing too.  Such is pork casserole really and the variable quality of pork we have in our supermarkets, else I am a rubbish cook with no consistency, which could conceivably be the case!  Oh and a big, big thank you to Greedy Rosie for checking her vast recipe book collection for me and finding yet another adobo version, the lady is a star.

Pork in  Pickling Style Recipe Basic Ingredients:

Depending on how many people you are feeding, this recipe of course can be scaled up and down.  A 500g pork loin will serve two to three people, this sounds like a lot of meat but reduces down considerably when cooked and could serve four if you have additional side dishes.  Trim off any pork fat/rind to your own taste (I tend to remove as much as I can but in the Philippines traditionally you would probably use a more fatty pork). Place your cubed pork, pork chops or thick cut loin chops in a bowl, add in equal volumes of light Soy Sauce to distilled White Vinegar to adequately cover, I use around 8 tablespoons or 1/2 (US) Cup of each to feed 4 and my preference is for Kikkoman soya sauce, though I used a new “delux” double-fermented Lee Kum Kee soy sauce for this one today which is much redder in colour.  A variation is to use 1/4 dark soy sauce and 3/4 light soy, it gives a richer and darker look and taste, but not strictly necessary as long as you are using a decent quality soy.  Crush 4-6 garlic cloves and add in, along with a teaspoon of whole black peppercorns, a heaped teaspoon of brown sugar (Demerara or muscavo, whatever you have, palm sugar would probably be more authentic) and 2 medium-size bay leaves.  

Pork in Marinade

Method: Marinate in the fridge for as long as you can, but for at least a couple of hours.  It can sit in there all day if that suits, just turn the meat over a few times. In either a large, deep skillet (that has a lid for later) or a wide-based heavy pot, warm a tablespoon of vegetable or olive oil, more if you have a large volume of pork.  Crush another 4-6 garlic cloves and gently fry over a low heat. Brown very large pork chops first and separately before softening the garlic, it is not necessary to brown cubed pork or thin loin steaks. Add in the pork to the softened garlic with all of the marinade and a cup of cold water so that the pork is just covered.  Bring to the boil for a few minutes before putting the lid on and stew gently until cooked, anywhere from half an hour for thin loin chops or tender pork loin to 45 minutes for thick chunky chops or very large cubed and less tender meat.  Remove the cooked pork, then turn up the heat under the pan for 5 minutes or so until it foams and creates a sticky, carmelised sauce.  If you are faffing around meantime with veg and rice, you can add splashes of hot water just to keep it from being too dry–if you make this dish you will see what I mean!  Remove the bay leaves, and place the meat back in the sauce before serving with sicky white rice (I overcook Basmati by a couple of minutes but you can use e.g. Thai sticky rice) and with steamed or stir-fried greens on the side.  It is great to put out a serving dish of rice with the entire adobo pork casserole on top and let folks help themselves–the sticky sauce kind of mixes up with the slightly sticky rice, its fab.

Comment: So you don’t have to, I have tried all variations I can imagine–all dark soya sauce, brown malt and cider & wine vinegars, I have tried quickly marinading too and tried reducing down the garlic.  I have tried adding other spices/ginger and so on too.  No variations work out, but if you do hit on another combo, please let me know!  This dish is what it is: brutally tasty–it clubs rather than charms the tastebuds, buy hey, sometimes that is just what you need.  We loved this as kids but I would pick out the peppercorns first for the very small ones…

Sausage Roll Swirls

Like most people I guess, I get fed up with cooking sometimes and just buy in a pack of sausage rolls to shove in the oven and have with chips for tea.  Because of my allergy, I am forced to have to read the ingredients, and quite often I just put the packet of whatever it is right back on the shelves, not for any allergy reasons but because the weird and wonderful ingredients lists has put me off.  Here is the list of contents of a leading branded sausage roll as one example:

British Pork, Wheat Flour, Pork Fat, Vegetable Oil, Water, Egg, Salt, Potato Starch, Spices, Herbs (0.2%), Salt, Spices, Maltodextrin, Rusk, Flavouring, Malt Extract, Yeast Extract, Vegetable Oil, Onion Powder, Lactose, Sugar, Sage Extract.

I have no idea what maltodextrin is and would rather not know, thanks.  So, I bought some pork mince and some puff pastry to make my own, and as the prep time was less than 10 minutes for the lovely recipe below, I can’t really complain too much…

Recipe: Sausage Roll Swirls

Sausage Roll Swirls

Sausage Roll Swirls

I found the original recipe in a copy of Grazia magazine and made these over the weekend.  I have adjusted the quantities based on what I actually used and what is readily available in supermarkets.  I have also updated and corrected some of the instructions. 

 

Ingredients:

(Makes around 20)

  • 500g minced Pork or sausagemeat
  • 1 medium sized Onion, chopped finely
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of dried Sage or a tablespoon of chopped fresh Sage
  • 75g finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and Pepper to season
  • 425g ready-rolled all-butter Puff Pastry
  • 1 medium egg, beaten

Method:

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius (Gas Mark 6)

In a mixing bowl, combine the minced pork, sage, chopped onion and parmesan.  Season with salt and pepper.  (I did not put in any salt because I thought the parmesan would provide more than enough saltiness, but I would add salt when making these again, as the dish does need this.)

On a floured surface , gently turn out the sheet of pastry, you can make the rectangle bigger by just a couple of inches (5cm) or so all round with a floured rolling pin.  My pastry came as two sheets, so I divided the pork mixture into two and placed half the mixture on top of one of the rolled sheets.  I found spreading the mixture evenly over the sheet a little tricky; using a rolling pin to do this really helped.  Leave a 1cm, quarter of an inch border free of mixture down the long sides of the pastry rectangle.  On one long edge, turn in the border, and then continue rolling the pastry over like a Swiss roll.  The original recipe says roll the short end over, this is not correct, you roll the long edge over.  You end up with a gigantic sausage roll and it is much easier than I thought it would be to do this.  Wet the border with water to seal the edge to the roll.  Brush all over with beaten egg, and slice with a sharp knife into 2.5cm rounds (1 1/4 inch).  Lightly oil a baking sheet, and line with greaseproof paper, I would also recommend oiling the greaseproof paper surface too as the first batch I made got a bit “stuck”, which was mildly irritating.   Lay the swirls flat on the sheet, leaving some room around each swirl for the pastry to expand, and bake for 40-45 mins until golden and puffy.  You can eat these hot or cold and serve either as a main or as an hors d’eouvres.  We managed to eat 3 each as a main course with hand-made oven chips and roasted veg, and ate the remainder cold next day as a snack.  They are very savoury and very more-ish.