Thursday, October 31, 2013

Slow-cooked Sausage and Onions with a Cider, Beer and Mustard Sauce

This Halloween I decided to try to recreate something Jay made for our Halloween party two years ago.  He cooks everything by just throwing things together until it tastes good, which often works out well but is not so helpful when it comes to recreating the recipe.  With a little trial and error I took a stab at it, and was pretty happy with the result, although there's one thing I'll definitely change next time.  After some initial stovetop cooking, you can finish this recipe in a slow cooker or continue to simmer it on low on the stove.

And the traditional combo here is obviously sausage with peppers and onions instead of just onions, so add those if you like, I'm just not a fan of peppers.

You'll need:

About 2 lbs of uncooked sausage of your choice (I used a mixture of herb and sweet Italian chicken sausage)
2 medium white onions
1 cup apple cider
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 bottle of beer of your choice (something good enough to drink is a good rule of thumb but I don't actually like beer so I have to take other people's word for it)
4 tsp dijon mustard
2 tsp fancy dijon mustard with whole seeds in it (or 6 tsp regular dijon and 1-2 tsp dry mustard seeds)
4 whole garlic cloves
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp all purpose flour (optional)
olive oil for the pan
herbs that complement your meat (sage is great for chicken, rosemary might be a good one for pork sausage)

Drizzle a little olive oil in a deep pan and set on high heat until it starts to crackle.  Add all of your sausage and cook for several minutes on each side, rotating until it's nicely browned.  If you're going to use a slow cooker/crock pot, you can place the sausage in the pot at this time, or set it aside on a plate if you're going to simmer it on the stove.

Next, reduce heat to medium and add beer to the pan, scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon to incorporate all the nice browned bits into the sauce.  If you want your sauce to thicken a little, you can add a heaping teaspoon of flour, very slowly sifted through a fine mesh tea strainer and sprinkled in a little at a time, stirring briskly as you add it to prevent clumps.  Then add your cider, mustards, garlic cloves, and salt and pepper to taste, simmering as you incorporate the ingredients.  When you're happy with the taste, add the chicken stock.  I skipped this ingredient in my attempt and while the flavor was good, the sausages tasted much too strong after cooking in it for four hours.  Stock will dilute the sauce so the flavor doesn't become overpowering in your sausages.  Add the liquid to your sausages.

Next, chop two onions and add to the pan with a drizzle of oil, sauteeing over medium heat until they become translucent.

And then you're ready to add them to your slow cooker (or return everything to your pan,) give it all a toss and set it on low for four hours.  Not pictured here, but I remembered at the last moment I had some sage leaves and threw them on top.

The end result is fragrantly fall-y comfort food that makes a great bangers n mash, no gravy required with the delicious mustardy sauce to drown your potatoes in (but butter never hurts.)

As a variation for your sauce, you could kill two birds with one bottle of hard cider instead of the combo of cider and beer.  Enjoy!

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