“Remember, remember, the 5th of November!” Are we really celebrating Guy Fawkes Night on the eve of the elections here in America? No, not really, but we originally made the English classic meal Bangers and Mash for the London Olympics Opening Ceremonies (and then again for the closing) and were desperate to find another English excuse to post the recipe. So we looked for a good English holiday, and while Guy Fawkes Night isn’t exactly their 4th of July, since we’re both politically inclined and wannabe revolutionaries, it seemed like a pretty good excuse to post this recipe.
Guy (Guido) Fawkes is an interesting character. He was part of a plot to blow up the Parliament building on November 5th, 1605. That date has since been celebrated by the British with fireworks to commemorate the failure of the plot to bring down their government and replace the Protestant King James 1st with a Catholic monarch (one of his daughters). Ironically, despite the fact that Guy Fawkes’ goal was to replace one theocratic monarchy with an even more theocratic monarchy, he has been more recently been celebrated as a hero of anti-government activism generally, with “Occupy Wall Street” (and their Occupy brethren elsewhere), “Anonymous” and “anarchist” protesters world-wide donning Guy Fawkes masks. These came in vogue after the release of the movie “V for Vendetta”, where the protagonist donned one of these masks in his campaign against a futuristic oppressive government/corporate state. Most amusingly, those who don those masks to fight the government/corporate/Wall Street control of our society, probably don’t realize that massive media machine Time Warner actually receives a cut of every mask that is sold. But at least that character was a freedom fighter of some sort, as opposed to the original Guy Fawkes, who really just wanted to replace one corrupt form of tyranny with another. So I guess if you want to wear the mask in tribute to a major corporate film character who wore a Guy Fawkes mask in a fight against oppression, you can do that, but you should probably at least know that the real guy the mask represents probably would have burned you at the stake as a heretic if he’d had the opportunity.
But hey! This is a food blog, not a political one, and all that above is just a bit of explanation about the holiday we’re using as a flimsy excuse to write about sausage and mashed potatoes with brown onion gravy, or as it is better known across the pond, “bangers and mash.” And whether you’re an anarchist, fascist, liberal, conservative, libertarian, or some sort of squishy moderate, all meat eaters should be united around the fact that sausage with mashed potatoes and brown onion gravy is worth ignoring politics over–at least long enough to finish dinner.
An additional piece of non-political trivia about this dish, is that “bangers” were apparently originally called that because they (especially during WWII) were frequently made with high water content, and cooking them would often cause them to burst their skin, “banging” in the pan. You can find authentic bangers at an authentic English grocer or many meat markets. Here in north Orange County, we were able to find ours for about $9 at The British Grocer in Downtown Fullerton during the Olympics, but I’ve also seen them for $5 at Stater Brothers.
- 1 Package (4-5) English Banger Sausages (pork or beef)
- 1 Tbsp Canola Oil
- 1 Lg Yellow or Sweet Onion, thinly sliced
- 1 Tbsp Flour
- 1 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
- 1½ Cups Beef Stock
- Mashed Potatoes, prepared your favorite way–but classic English-style is the butterier (?) the better
- Brown sausages in large pan on medium-high heat, covering with lid and turning regularly to cook through.
- Remove sausages from pan.
- Heat 1 Tbsp canola oil in same pan and add sliced onions.
- When onions are browned and soft, add flour and stir to coat.
- Pour beef stock over onions and stir and scrape bottom of pan to deglaze.
- Bring to simmer for 10-15 minutes to reduce and thicken, reduce heat to warm, and add one Tbsp of butter, stirring in.
- Return sausages to pan with gravy, until sausages are re-heated.
- Serve sausages with gravy over mashed potatoes.
- Serve with whole grained mustard (or other favorite variety) on the side and English Peas for a traditional full meal.