"Bangers and Mash" you see it on just about any pub menu in our fair city, but what is a banger? Since the bacchanal de vert is upon us I figured it was a good time to explore the sausages of the Emerald Isle...
And that completes the tour of sausages of the Ireland. What did you miss it? That's because there's not much. The Oxford Companion, lists several regional sausages of the UK but nary a one in the land of Erin. Larousse, mentions a blood sausage, drisheen, of Irish decent, and says bangers are an old name for Chipolata. Whatever. I searched for a "Bangers" recipe and came up with a smattering of unimpressive ideas. In Bruce's Aidells' , Complete Sausage Book, he states the sausage he had while living in London, which tasted like it was made with "Sawdust, salt and grease," was his motivation to start making sausage at home. I kept on hitting dead ends, but I was not deterred, we must have something to go with our green beer.
Just about all the recipes I found called for bread crumbs or rusk. As a general rule I have always shied away from cereal fillers in my sausage, but in spirit of being authentic, we'll give it a go. Rusk, according to the dictionary is "A slice of sweet raised bread, dried and baked again in the oven." We'll use toast. Let's go to the boards:
2 lb pork shoulder diced
3 slices (90 g) whole wheat bread dried in the oven chopped into fine crumbs
20 g salt
1/2 t (1 g) dried marjoram
1/2 t (1 g) grated nutmeg
1/4 t (1 g) powdered ginger
(2 g) ground black pepper
1/2 t (1 g) finely grated lemon zest
100 ml milk
Combine ingredients, except milk, and rest the mixture in the fridge for at least an hour. Grind through fine plate into chilled bowl. Add milk and stir mixture until it starts to come together, about one minute. Stuff into hog casings. For that fancy pub look, twist the sausages into 4 inch lengths. Gently saute them to an internal temperature of 150F. To finish the authentic look make some grilled onions, some curry gravy and mashed potatoes.
Being 'twas a weeknight when I made me bangers, and I hadn't any potatoes (horrors!) I truly embraced the Irish spirit and instead of going to the grocery, I found somethin else in the pantry to mash:
Mac's mashed acorn squash with a wee bit o curry.
Peel quarter and clean one acorn squash. Put the pieces in a roasting pan, liberally sprinkle with salt pepper and olive, and cook until soft in a 350F oven, about 30 minutes.
I let the pieces cool a bit, then I put them in the food processor with a little milk and curry powder to taste. Since I was doing this ahead of time, I put the puree into a buttered casserole dish to warm just before serving. It was real good. One small acorn squash served two people. To finish the presentation, I had to have something green: Swiss chard sauteed with garlic and crushed red pepper. A wee bit of Guinness, and we're ready to chase the leprechaun.
Happy St. Patrick's Day.