Spicy sausage, cider and pearl barley casserole
( SERVES 4 )
Photo by Tamara West
What better way to welcome the impending cold weather than a good end-of-summer sausage casserole. Quick and simple to make as well as cost-effective, it doesn’t take hours in the oven and with a good swig of cider to wash it down, what more could we ask for — other than second helpings.
The key to any great dish will always be the ingredients. I highly recommend that your sausages are sourced from a good, trustworthy local butcher as they will undoubtedly be tastier and more ethical (and probably contain less horse). Equally as important as a good quality sausage is the stock. When cooking at home I tend to make my stocks from scratch during the cooking process rather than using a stock cube. This gives your dish a fresher, cleaner flavour, rather than a manufactured one.
This recipe is designed to give your fridge, herb pots and cupboards a good clear out before the new season is in full swing. I used kumara, pearl barley and spicy sausage. You might have potatoes to use up, quinoa sitting in the cupboard and prefer a good lamb and mint sausage instead of the spiced variety. Have a play around with different ingredients — there are no rules — and use this recipe as a guideline. The end result will most certainly be a very tasty, wholesome casserole.
- Heat your oven to 200C. Pierce sausages all over with a fork and sear in a hot frying pan with a good amount of olive oil. Once seared all over, place them in an ovenproof casserole dish.
- Add the onions, garlic, celery and carrot to the frying pan you’ve just used and caramelise all over. Season with a sprinkle of salt as you go.
- Once caramelised, add maple syrup, cumin seeds, fennel seeds and bay leaves. Cook for a further 2 minutes, stirring to prevent sticking and burning. Add everything to the casserole dish.
- Deglaze the pan with 500ml of the cider (I highly recommend Aspall Cider) and pour this over the vegetables and sausages in your casserole dish.
- Add the washed pearl barley and top up with boiling water from the kettle to cover. Season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper, then cover and place in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.
- Take the casserole out of the oven (and be careful when removing the lid). Stir in the chopped herbs, cherry tomatoes and spring onions, leaving to infuse for a few minutes.
- Serve with a good crusty sourdough and salted butter (and the rest of that cider!)