a hearty autumn stew: sausage and pumpkin awash with spices!

sausage and pumpkin stew
Autumn is my favourite time of year. I love the smell and colours of the year as abundance fades away; dormant until the new beginnings of spring. At the moment my garden is an abstract painting of fallen leaves, rusty orange, muted yellow and faded red. At this time of year I am also keen on meals, that leave the sunshine simplicity of summer cooking and heartiIy banish away the grey drizzle of an autumn chill. I want a dish of strong and complex flavours, full of warming spices to keep the gloom at bay. 

I am also still on a mission to run-down my freezer in the run-up to Christmas. A pack of Sainsburys' Butchers Choice Cumberland sausages (one of the only things that was identifiable in the frozen morass that is my freezer) were the next defrosted ingredient to provide the mainstay of a comforting autumnal stew of pumpkin and white beans.

I have often mentioned that I have rarely met a sausage I didn't like . . . that is to say, a well-made sausage, with good combination of quality meat and fat (yes, the fat is essential), with a small amount of padding (breadcrumbs or rusk to help the meat bind together) and a judicious amount of herb and spices.

Sadly, in the UK, there have been some absolute travesties on offer over the past 30 years or so on as to what constitutes a good British banger, with manufacturers fobbing us off with products alleged to be sausages but which have little flavour and probably less real meat in them. Fortunately, in the last few years, there has been a revival of quality sausages, but even there I can find fault, with sausages that are actually overly-herby and so jammed packed with "premium" ingredients, ((you know the kind of thing - made with rarebreed meat and herbs handpicked by virgins by the light of a silvery moon), as to be frankly inedible.

The lovely chaps at Sainsbury's PR had sent me a pack of their Butchers Choice Cumberland Sausages to try. We had them for breakfast, and the few that were left over in a sausage sandwich and I have to say, I really liked them. These are not part of their premium range of sausages but they were absolutely perfect in a good English breakfast and as a sandwich filling with lashings of mustardy mayonnaise. A traditional Cumberland sausage should be slightly peppery with a bit of a cayenne kick and these definitely were all that, without being overwhelming.

I liked them so much, that I went out and bought another couple of packs; which at £1.65 each (for eight sausages), was I thought very good value. I put them in the freezer, and then as ever, prompty forgot about them.

And a propos of this, it was British Sausage Week last week and if you want more information about sausages and recipes from the Love Pork people, have a look here.

Serves 4
Skill level: Easy
Preparation time: 1 hour

ingredients:
3 tbsp olive oil
a knob of butter
8 sausages
1-2 x onions, finely sliced
2 x garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp ground ginger
1 x red chilli, finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 x small pumpkin (or butternut squash), peeled and de-seeded, cut into chunks about 2 cm long
1 x tin of tomatoes, chopped
1 x tin of cannelini of butter beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp dried thyme (or 2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme)
250-450ml stock (chicken or vegetable) or water salt and freshly ground black pepper
a small handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped, to serve

directions:
  1. Take a large heavy-based frying pan and heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over a medium heat. Add the onion and fry gently for about 5 minutes, until they are golden brown all over. Set aside.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large, heavy-based pan over a medium heat. When hot, add the butter and then the onion, garlic, ground ginger and chilli. Stir and cook for about 5 minutes.Add the cumin, pumpkin, tomatoes, beans and about 250 mililitres of the stock and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down and add the sausages. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes. If the the stew looks as if it is drying out, then add a little more stock or water.
  3. To serve, ladle the stew into bowls and sprinkle over a little of the chopped parsley, with rice or couscous to accompany.

tips:
  • Use pork chops instead of sausages.
  • Add a little crumbled black pudding or chopped chorizo to the stew.
  • Replace the pumpkin with chunks of potato, as they absorb the spice flavours really well.
  • For more of a middle eastern vibe, make up a little serving sauce of yoghurt, topped with chopped mint and pomegranate seeds.

1 comment:

Dom at Belleau Kitchen said...

What a lovely recipe. I love this time of year for its wonderful stews and soups. You've captured Autumn on a plate! And you're so right about sausages. Finding a cheap good quality banger is a hard thing. Good to know Sainsburys have done it!