St. Patrick’s Day – Bangers & Mash with a Scotch Ale Onion Gravy

Bangers and Mash
I want to be clear. I love Corned Beef and Cabbage, but you probably have you Corned Beef recipe by now if you celebrate St. Patty’s often. But, if you  want something different this year, or, if you’re like me and you throw a huge St. Patty’s party and want more than one option for your guests, or maybe you’re going to a potluck, my Bangers and Mash recipe is one of my favorites. I make it year round.

Bangers are a style of British or Irish peasant sausage that is made with rusk. And since that explains everything nicely, I’ll move on to the recipe.

Bangers & Mawhat’s that? You have know idea what rusk is? Why that would make it a peasant sausage or what that has to do with the name ‘banger’? Oh, I’m sorry, I am shocked that it wasn’t clear.

Well, rusk is basically bread. Specifically a wheat product used in the stuffing of the sausage to help the meat go farther. More rusk, more sausage. Hence, why it was good and cheap for the peasants. Rusk has the tendency to expand while cooking, causing the casing to pop very suddenly, creating a banging sound. To avoid this you should pierce each sausage with a fork several times to let the juices escape a little and keep the sausage from splitting (this is not a good practice for sausages without rusk. The rusk soaks up the juices of the meat, keeping the sausage moist, where piercing a regular sausage would dry it out.)

See, that was simple really. You would have figured it out on your own, right? Right.

Serve your bangers over mashed potatoes (the ‘mash’) and top with a gravy made from beer and carmelized onions. The onions take 50 minutes to an hour to carmelize and cannot be rushed, so while this recipe is not hard, leave yourself a good hour and a half to cook.

Bangers & Mash with a Scotch Ale Onion Gravy

2 Tablespoons olive oil

½ stick (1/4 cup) butter

6 to 12 bangers

4 to 6 onions, sliced pole to pole

2 sage sprigs, leaves removed and coarsely chopped

1 cup scotch ale (Scotch ale is a type of pale ale, but with dark roasted nutty overtones. Often called Wee Heavy or Kilt Lifter)

½ cup chicken stock

salt and pepper to taste

  1. Brown the sausages over medium high heat in the olive oil, 3 to 5 minutes per side. After flipping the sausage, pierce the cooked side of the sausage several times with a fork to keep the rusk in the banger from splitting the casing.
  2. Remove the sausage from the pan and turn heat to low. Add the butter. After the butter is mostly melted, add the sliced onions and a sash of salt (to help them cook faster.) Turn the heat to medium and cook the onions, uncovered, stirring occasionally for 50 minutes to an hour until a rich golden brown. The long you roast the onions, the richer the flavor.
  3. Deglaze (this is a fancy word that means, add liquid and scrape up any brown bits at the bottom of the pan) with scotch ale and chicken broth.  Add sage and then nestle the half cooked sausages back into the pan. Raise the heat to high and bring to a simmer. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes or until the gravy is reduced by half.
  4. Serve sausages over mashed potatoes and top with gravy. Pair with beer or even a very flavorful white wine.
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