As some of you may remember from my egregious posting of many white pony pictures on instagram, I was in Ireland earlier this fall for a wedding. The country has historically gotten a pretty bad rap for its food scene (even more so than its weather). So I went into the trip knowing that my main adventures were going to be in the saddle rather than at pub. (Well, at least during dinner hours).
That said, I’m a total sucker for classic pub food. Before I became gluten-free, I could eat my weight in Fish and Chips. It was hard for me to be a passive bystander as I watched my friends wolfing down crispy haddock on newsprint. But the other menu offerings weren’t half bad – in fact, some of them were down right creative.
On Thursday night, the only people who’d arrived were family members and nerdy horse enthusiasts like me, so we went out for an amazing meal at Vaughans Anchor Inn. You can see some of the creations here, posted as mere filler between pony shots. I had quail and venison, with a smattering of chips stolen from the aforementioned newsprint bundles of anyone who wasn’t looking.
I got my fish fix the next night at the rehearsal dinner, since my friend Whitney is the most considerate bride on the planet and requested a gluten-free version for myself and the other glutards. The meal was served family style and my gluten-free Fish and Chips was similarly portioned to the platter that the rest of the table received, once again proving my ability to eat my weight in fried food.
The one dish I didn’t get my fix of in Ireland was bangers and mash. Perhaps it’s fallen out of favor as the pubs have stepped up their game. But I came home craving old school sausage and potatoes.
Since St. Patty’s Day is on the horizon, I thought it was the perfect time to introduce my bangers and mash recipe on the blog. I healthified it slightly by adding wilted spinach to the mash, which is something my mother always used to do. Sometimes, even when you don’t use dairy, I find mashed potatoes a little cloyingly rich. The spinach adds a great body, and together with the bangers, makes this dish a perfectly balanced meal, no side salad necessary.
Another thing I consumed my weight in while in Ireland was hard cider. They make it so much dryer and more complex over there – even the commercial brands. I used a bottle of Magners to deglaze the sausage skillet and add a nice sauce to the onions. When it reduces down, due to the hint of sweetness, it needs little else to become an excellent pan sauce.
Regardless of whether or not you celebrate St. Patty or embrace Irish pub food on a year-round basis, as I do, this bangers and mash recipe makes for a great easy weeknight meal. Don’t forget to buy a couple extra bottles of cider.
Bangers and Spinach Mash with Cider Onions
- 2 pounds russet or Yukon gold potatoes peeled and diced
- 10 ounces spinach
- 1/2 cup vegetable or chicken stock
- Sea salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil divided
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 pounds breakfast sausage (or sweet Italian)
- 1 large sweet onion halved and thinly sliced
- One 12-ounce bottle hard cider (preferably dry Irish cider, like a Magners)
- Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water by 1 inch. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are fork tender, about 15 minutes. Fold in the spinach and cook for an additional minute. Drain the potato mixture and return to the pot along with ¼ cup stock, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 tablespoon olive oil. With a fork or masher, smash the potatoes until semi-smooth. Add more liquid if the potatoes seem too thick and dry. Fold in the butter and taste for seasoning.
- Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the sausage until browned on all sides, about 4 minutes total, depending on the thickness. Set aside.
- Add the onions to the pan. Saute until soft and beginning to caramelized, scrapping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan, about 15 minutes. Pour the cider over the onions and simmer until reduced by half, about 5 to 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the sausages back to the pan and turn to coat in the onion sauce.
- Divide the potato mash between 4 plates and top with the sausages and cider onions.