Sausage and Squash Casserole

sausagecasserole 3

I made up this recipe and it’s become a total winter staple in our house, lasting right through the unseasonably snowy March nights we just endured. It’s also very versatile, so you can use up whatever scraggy root veg you have lying around and it’ll make something really quite hearty and nice. It serves plenty for two and it goes like this:

1 onion
1-2 rashers thick cut unsmoked bacon, or whatever bacon you have
2-3 sausages
1 butternut squash
1 swede
2-3 handfuls fresh spinach
500ml veg stock
1 carrot (optional)
1 sweet potato (optional)

Chop an onion and soften it on a low heat in some oil, in a heavy-bottomed pan (le creuset or GTFO, basically), for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, chop a rasher or two, depending on how healthy you’re feeling, of unsmoked bacon and chuck it in the pan to fry with the onions.

While these are frying up nicely, peel, deseed and cube a butternut squash – the most boring and awkward kitchen task EVER, in my opinion, though a good knife helps. Also peel and chop a small swede or turnip. Optional at this stage: one finely sliced carrot, one peeled and cubed sweet potato, any other chopped up root veg. You can either substitute in or just add every vegetable you can find, if you want to feed more people or if you have a mega starve on. Big carrots are 9p each from my local Tesco, so go nuts with them to bulk it out if you want.

Chuck all your chopped root veg of choice into the pan with the onions and bacon, and give a good stir for a couple of minutes. Then pour in a jug of veg stock – about 500ml. Leave to cook until soft, which will take around 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a frying pan (preferably one of those non-stick ones so you don’t have to use oil or butter), fry two or three sausages (depending on how hungry you are) on a low heat. Chop them into chunks and add to your casserole when they’re cooked through. Leave the casserole to cook for another ten minutes or so to let the sausage flavour make everything delicious. At this stage you can add a can of drained butterbeans, if you like. Salt and pepper to taste, and maybe add a pinch of chilli flakes if you really need warming up, eg if your hot water bottle has sprung a leak or you live in an ice hotel.

Chuck in two big handfuls of fresh spinach, and stir in until they wilt. Serve with crusty bread. We got a lovely gnarly pain de campagne from The Manna House, along with two slices of chocolate cake for afters. Thumbs up.

sausagecasserole

Advertisements

Bread

bread (1)I’ve been baking bread. This is mostly because of my Auntie Susan. She very generously gave me some Amazon vouchers for Christmas, and I went for books by the two great and terrible leaders of the baking world: Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood. With the GBBO overlords at my side, I figured, I’d be unstoppable.

Paul Hollywood’s book, How to Bake, is quite brisk. His attitude is this: you can bake great bread, and it’s not too hard, but you have to do exactly as he says. And also all of your initial attempts will suck. But you’ll get there in the end.

I like his honesty. In its spirit, I tackled his white cob loaf, for starters. And it was perfect, except for the tiny fact that we couldn’t wait long enough for it to cool down so we ended up eating it when it was still basically a hot doughy mess.

But the half of the loaf that we managed not to wolf down as soon as it was out of the oven was perfect. The crust was infinitely softer, saltier, rougher than any breads I’ve made before. So, OK, Paul. You’re pretty good. I’m going to have a crack at your sourdough next.

bread