Sausages and mash with onion gravy: words to stir an atavistic yearning in the hearts of all stout yeoman throughout this fair isle. And me. They're also words to be found on pub lunch menus beyond counting, a seemingly reassuring presence amongst all the Thai curries, lasagnes, burgers, pesto pastas (V), BBQ chicken wings, risottos, pies of the day et al. Sadly, however, what you tend to end up with gravy-wise is an unedifying, overly sweet, gloopy paste (see also 'French onion soup').
Neither, it must said, have I liked the stuff whenever I've tried to make it (once every couple of years). Until very recently. Until circumstances (the purchase of two majestic faggots from Flock & Herd a month or so back) forced me once again, heroically, to have another bash at it.
And, fuck me, this time it was really delicious. I have to attribute my stunning success to the frankly inspired decision to include in the recipe these two beauties:
Now you might think Marsala to be an expensive indulgence; but this bottle, from Morrison's, was £4.49 for 375ml. So the 45ml called for in the recipe costs not quite 54p. More than reasonable for the price of success I think you'll agree.
As a Lancashire lad I bow to the ancient foe in one respect only - Henderson's Relish is made there. Fair do's. If you haven't got any, use Lea & Perrins.
I never make beef stock, do you? Probably not. I've no problem with using MPW's beloved Knorr stock pots. Well just the one - they are only a grain or two away from being too salty. I wish they'd make a no salt version. Still, they work here - but you won't need to add any more salt, just pepper.
I almost always cook sausages by coating them in oil and then roasting in a 200C/180C fan oven for about half an hour, turning once or twice. You get a more even colour to them that way.
a splash of vegetable oil
approx 300g red onions, thinly sliced
300ml beef stock (made from a Knorr stock pot or similar)
a good splash of Henderson's Relish (or Worcestershire sauce)
Splash a little oil into a large frying pan set over a low heat, add the butter and melt. Add the sliced onions and cook, stirring now and then, until they are meltingly soft and have taken on colour but are not burnt at all - I left mine for about 45 minutes.
Add the marsala and let it reduce to almost nothing. Now add the stock, a good splash of Hendo's and a couple of grinds of black pepper.
Bring the gravy to a low simmer and let it bubble away happily for half an hour or so (i.e. while you cook your sausages).
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