For me, there are few dinners more satisfying than a plate of browned sausages topped with sweet, roasted onions; fluffy, creamy mashed potatoes and some juicy little sweet peas, all drenched in home-made gravy. I love it now, because over the years I've discovered how to do each bit so that it tastes right for me. Trust me, I've forced down enough watery, insipid mash and pale, chewy sausages in my time, so here I'm explaining how I do it now. I hope you find it useful, and if you have any other tips for the best bangers 'n' mash, then let me know in the comments box below!
Always good quality sausages (80% pork and above), never the cheaper supermarket versions, which I find, just sit in a pool of fat and water and turn soggy and wrinkled in the oven. I like a nice bite to the sausage skin so I bake them in the oven, just drizzled with a tiny bit of olive oil. I chop the onion into smallish pieces and add them to the roasting tray, tucking them in and around the sausages, but not too close otherwise the sausages don't brown so well. Then I slip it in the oven at about 200ºC for about 25-30 minutes.
Pick a creamy potato like Maris Piper - you're doomed if you pick a floury King Edward, which will give you a strange granular consistency. And I know that the 'perfect' mashed potato is achieved by baking the potatoes for a good hour, de-skinning them and pushing them through a mouli, but who has time for all that on a weeknight? So I cut the peeled potatoes into chunks and boil them in slightly salted water until they're just tender - not breaking apart or they'll get too waterlogged. Once they're tender I drain them and put them back in the saucepan, leaving them to steam dry a little. Then I mash them. Next I take about 100g mascarpone cheese and beat it into the mashed potato with a pinch or two of salt.
I stopped buying ready-made gravy a long time ago, once I realised how quick (and much cheaper) it is to make your own. Once the sausages and onions are cooked, I keep the sausages warm and then dump the roasted onions into a small saucepan, along with any of the sticky residues the sausages have left behind. Then I spoon in about a teaspoon or cornflour, stirring all the time so the onions get coated. Then I pour in about 250-300ml hot stock (often beef stock, for the colour), stirring or whisking all the time until it's thickened. Then I serve the sausages with the mash, a couple of spoonfuls of petit pois and dribble over the gravy.
How do you make yours?