“I think preparing food and feeding people brings nourishment not only to our bodies but to our spirits. Feeding people is a way of loving them, in the same way that feeding ourselves is a way of honoring our own createdness and fragility.”
~ Shauna Niequist, Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way
I am not always up to cooking just now, so when I am I like to cook enough food to guarantee us some easy-to-reheat leftovers or freezer meals.
This recipe reminds me of both my grandmothers. Nana was a fan of everything economical, so sausages were a great favourite of hers. My other Grandmother, Marga, loved flavoursome sauces and gravies, and abhorred anything ‘dry’. I combined those things to come up with this tasty sausage casserole. It’s great for feeding hungry workers at the end of a big day on the farm, and I have also used this recipe on stock camps or out droving, because the ingredients are very portable. (Why eat bad food just because you are camping?)
Note: This dish can easily be made vegan or vegetarian by using vegan sausages and vegetable stock.
Sunday is usually my day for cooking stocks and soups, and slow cooked foods that use up anything in the fridge or pantry that needs eating. I’ve used fresh tomatoes here as well as canned ones, because I had a few tomatoes going a little wrinkly on my kitchen bench. Feel free to experiment with this recipe to use up those older vegetables. It’s a forgiving dish, and is open to inclusion of many extras.
1 kilogram fat beef sausages (or sausages of your choice), 2 large onions sliced, 1 red capsicum (bell pepper) diced, 1 cup of diced fresh tomatoes and one 415 gram tin of diced tomatoes OR two tins of diced tomatoes, 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, 1 tablespoon of olive oil or butter, 1 teaspoon of chicken stock powder (or equivalent) and one cup of boiling water OR one cup of good bone broth or stock of your choice, 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon of sugar, 1/2 cup of red or white wine, one tablespoon of fresh herbs (I used parsley and oregano) or one teaspoon of dried Italian or Mixed Herbs, 1 tin of red kidney beans, water, salt and pepper. Optional: a fresh sliced chilli or a slug of Tabasco sauce if you like a little heat in your food.
Fry up your sausages over medium heat, using the tablespoon of oil to prevent them sticking. No need to cook them through. Just seal them and give them some colour. Then remove them from the pan and place into a large baking dish, casserole or slow cooker. Leave any fat in the pan.
Now add the onions and capsicum, and fresh tomato if you are using it. Fry gently for three minutes, allowing the onions to become golden and the capsicum and tomatoes to soften.
Drain and rinse the kidney beans and add those too. Let this simmer for a few minutes. Then taste and season with salt and pepper. Pop in the fresh chilli or Tabasco if you are using it.
Pour sauce over the sausages in your baking dish or slow cooker. Cover with a lid or some foil to prevent burning or drying out.
Cook in a moderate oven (180 degrees celsius/ 350 degrees fahrenheit) for 30 minutes, and then reduce heat to 150 degrees celsius/ 300 degrees fahrenheit) and cook for 1 hour. If using a slow cooker cook for three hours on low heat.
Serve over pasta, rice or mash. It’s also good with a crunchy salad or fresh seasonal vegetables.
This meal freezes well, and can be reheated in a moderate oven, covered, for thirty minutes. Any leftover gravy is super as a pasta sauce, spooned over chops or with eggs on toast for breakfast. Enjoy!
PS – For those of you who enjoy camping, this is FABULOUS to make in a camp oven!