Last night I was searching for ideas to make dinner and all I had in the fridge was a tray of sausages. Though I was tempted to go for a simple plate of sausage, eggs and chips, I had some veg in the basket from a harvest last weekend, and decided to concoct some class of a stew. It was surprisingly delicious, and warming on a cold January night. I would generally pair sausages with cider in a stew, but it being dry January all I had in the fridge was a bottle of non-alcoholic lager! Never mind, it seemed to work. Don’t worry too much about sticking to the veg ingredients – you could use celery instead of celeriac or swede instead of squash etc. Be adventurous.
Heat a small amount of oil in a frying pan. Cut the sausages in to chunks and fry them for a minute or so on each side until browned. Remove from the pan and set aside on a plate. In the same frying pan, fry the onions, garlic, leeks, carrots and celeriac on a gentle heat for about 10 minutes (until soft). Transfer to a heavy saucepan or casserole.
Pour the bottle of beer in to the frying pan to deglaze the pan, scraping any nice brown bits off the pan with a wooden spatula. Bring to the boil and let it simmer for about 10 minutes to reduce down a little. Add it to your saucepan with the veg, and also add the stock, tomatoes, herbs and mustard. Bring to the boil and then add the squash or pumpkin.
Cook for 15 minutes with the lid on. Add the sausages back to the saucepan and cook for another 15 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Check the consistency - leave to simmer for another 10 minutes if it needs to be thickened or add a little boiling water if it’s too thick.
Serve with crusty bread or baked potatoes.
Michael Kelly is an author, broadcaster and founder of GIY.