Italian “Bangers and Mash”

Italian Bangers and MashOkay, this is really Italian sausage with grilled onions and peppers served over polenta. But it so resembles the English pub classic that I thought the name appropriate. And it occurred to me to prepare it using techniques similar to what I would use for real bangers and mash. That is, I boiled the sausages before grilling them and I finished the onions and peppers with a bit of pork stock. The sausages I used are made by Lupo’s of Endicott, New York, probably the best Italian sausages you will find anywhere. The result was delicious and an appropriate nod to the spirit of European unification.

A note about bell peppers: rather good fresh bell peppers are available year round but they do tend to be a bit pricey in the winter. I minimize the cost by purchasing what Wegman’s calls “Club Pacs” of six peppers that sell at a more reasonable price than single ones. To store I cut out the stems, remove the seeds and placenta (pith), cut them lengthwise into 1-inch strips that I freeze on baking sheets and store in a freezer bag. To use, simply thaw what you need in a bowl of cold water. I cut them into wide strips because when they are thawed I can use them as is or cut them into thinner strips or dice. For Chinese food I cut them into 1-inch squares.

Ingredients

  • 2 medium to large onions, sliced thinly
  • 1 large green bell pepper, sliced thinly lengthwise
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup canned diced tomatoes, drained
  • ½ cup pork stock (I used the water I boiled pork belly in for Double-Cooked Pork)
  • ½ cup cornmeal, I use half yellow and half white
  • ¾ cups cold water
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 4 hot Italian sausages, about 4 ounces each

Method

Turn the oven on and heat to 200° then turn off. Heat about 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a large (12-inch) non-stick fry pan over medium heat. Add the onions and peppers. Season with a good grind of black pepper and about ½ tsp. salt. Sauté, stirring often, until the onions and soft and lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes Be careful that the heat is not too high. You want to brown the onions, not burn them. Add the tomatoes and continue cooking and stirring until the vegetables are nicely caramelized, another 10 minutes. Stir in the pork stock and cook until the liquid is evaporated. Set aside in a warm oven.

Put the cold water into the top of a double boiler and whip in the cornmeal. Add the boiling water slowly while beating vigorously. Cover and let cook over the hot water for 20 minutes. Stir in the parmesan cheese and season to taste with salt. Turn off the heat and leave over the hot water, covered, until ready to serve.

Bring a pot of water to a boil, prick the sausages in a few places with a fork, and set them to boil for about 10 minutes. Place a grill pan or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat and lubricate with a bit of olive oil. Cook the sausages for about 15 minutes, turning, until nicely browned. Use a meat thermometer to ensure that they have reached at least 160°.

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