A sausage casserole recipe from hospital…

Today, because for a whole raft of reasons, I feel like hammered shit and can’t walk more than a few paces, I decided to hit the kitchen. Perverse or what?

Anyhoo, the first thing I did was knock a glass off the worktop, hacking a bloody chunk out of my foot. Damn good job my glasses are plastic, for just this reason – had it been glass, and shattered, I’d be typing this in A&E, and quite possibly emulating the Pobble (look it up, don’t be lazy!).

Anyway, this is the first dish I’ve cooked from scratch since some time around Christmas, the Aunt Bessie’s pre-prepped beef stew doesn’t really count.

First thing – aside from clumsiness – I noticed, was that I have lost quite a lot of my knife skills. Hopefully, these will come back to me, but for now I’m very slow. In the meantime, here’s the recipe. You need a 3-litre casserole, and the best sausages you can find.

***

Sausage Casserole with Waitrose Gourmet Sausages, cobbled together while in hospital…

Not, I hasten to add, APH’s recipe, it’s mine. Serves 4 with additional veg/spuds/noodles/whatever.

***

8 Sausages, fried until lightly browned. I used Waitrose Gourmet

1kg golf-ball-sized onions, peeled, halved and sliced. I sweated mine very gently in home-made pork lard until they were reduced almost to a purée, super-sweet and super-savoury, but still pearly and barely coloured at all.

Half a pack – about 4 – Sainsbury’s Sweet Spear carrots, peeled and sliced

2 Knorr chicken gravy gel-pots

A good splash of Knorr Touch of Taste beef stock (for me, a mix of chicken and beef works better than pork stock cubes)

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tablespoon dried basil

2 tablespoons mushroom ketchup

Homemade celery salt – to taste

A good slug of Thatcher’s 2011** Vintage Oak Aged Somerset Cider – not too much – you don’t want it swamped

**Might be 2012 now, I’ve had it a while.

A good handful of dehydrated vegetables – regular readers will be familiar with these, I use them a lot to add flavour.

Sea salt and black pepper, to taste.

To finish, a pack of Aunt Bessie’s Light and Fluffy Dumplings, cooked as per instructions.

I also had a bag of baby new potatoes, among which were some extremely small spuds, so I tossed those in too. You can, of course, omit the dumplings and just go with potatoes. Your call.

As always, allow to cool and stash in the fridge until the following day. Reheat, adjust seasoning, and serve.

This is, I have to say, bloody good! And, aside from chopping all those onions (spoonie tip – use pre-prepped), very easy to make.

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20 thoughts on “A sausage casserole recipe from hospital…

  1. Amazing, you’ve been through so much and are so very ill, I think of you often. You’re a hero! The sausage casserole sounds really yummy. You have inspired me to get up off my fat fanny and get on with it and there’s a lot of IT waiting to be got on with here. Realise I am being pathetic and wallowing in post trauma/shock due to homelessness/forced house move with disabled son. Those boxes are not going to unpack themselves and I can always sit down in between each box and recover. Big things can be achieved a bit at a time. I do realise how very ill you are and though it is of no help to you, my thoughts are with you. With best wishes, admiration and many thanks for the constant inspiration to try harder and get the most out of life, Rebecca (CarbonisedPleb)

    • Hard to know what to say to that, Rebecca! Very flattered. And I didn’t know you’d been forced to move – trouble with Twitter at the moment is too many people RT-ing the same old crap, which hides the important, more individual, stuff.

      My way of dealing with chronic (now terminal unfortunately), illness is to find distractions, and sometimes that means putting recipes together in my head, often weeks or months before I actually make them. It passes the time and, for a wonder, they mostly work when I get to make them for real.

      As for the boxes, make it one a day – very easy to push too hard otherwise.

      Take care, and take it easy.

      Ron.

      PS – as for “I do realise how very ill you are and though it is of no help to you, my thoughts are with you.” On the contrary, knowing that you, and other people, appreciate what I’m doing, and take the time to say so, is worth a great deal to me. It motivates me to write, too, especially during the times I don’t really feel up to it. And now I need to break out of my rut, and write about something other than me!

  2. Hello Ron, Good to have food back on your rant! I am impressed – Sainsburys AND waitrose? Do you hop on line? We have one crummy Tesco with 60 mile round trup for waitrose. No they don’t deliver to the rurals either. I do love those instant dumplings though. So easy and better than anything I can make. Hingry now!
    Pat x
    Ps. Steady on the Onions please – I bleed easily!!

    • Hi Pat,

      Yep, I shop exclusively online – not been in a real shop in quite a while, I’m mostly housebound.

      I’m having trouble resisting the casserole – I never eat stuff like that the same day as it’s always better for hanging around for 24 hours – give the flavours time to snuggle up to each other. I’ll zap a steak and kidney pud for tonight.

      Ron.

  3. Sounds delicious Ron. So nice to see you back in the kitchen, I know how much you enjoy cooking and eating. Enjoy but don’t over do it,it’s easy to forget about the consequences when we have some energy and start doing something we enjoy, I speak from experience. ;-

    • Hi Bev,

      It’s turned out amazingly good seeing it’s a classic bottom of the fridge/freezer dish!

      And now my fluid retention is under control (doubled my diuretic dose), I’m no longer gaining over a kilo a day but holding more or less steady or with a small daily loss, I can eat without fear of ballooning again!

      Which is good as I like my new skinny look now I’m used to it. I could do with more muscle (hell, any muscle would be good!), but I look pretty damn good anyway, and with less weight comes less pain.

      I used to be a great one for overdoing it, too, but that’s one lesson well learned. Lots of rest time factored into everything I do now, especially as I’ve been running on empty the last couple of days. Not entirely sure why, but it’ll bear watching.

  4. Good to see your at it again in the kitchen Ron, gonna try that recipe. sounds good to me. 2 questions though. as im teetotal (or almost) i feel that even if i were to buy the cider, most would be wasted and i hate waste.(well i hate wasting my money is more to the point. ) so would it make a BIG difference if that was omitted… and 2. as im not good at standing stirring stuff etc could this be done in slow cooker?
    if you find yourself at a loose end,and need something to distract you, how about developing ideas for the slow cooker for me that doesn’t involved beef/lamb/or anything too spicy.lolol. (well can ask for nothing cant i?lol.
    hope you keep reasonably well at least for a long time to come.i enjoy your blogs very much.

    • Apart from giving the softening onions a stir every half hour or so to ensure they don’t colour (not the end of the world if they do), there is no stirring involved – I cook everything on the lowest possible heat as a matter of course. Long, slow cooking gives better results and needs less attention. But stick it in the slow cooker – it won’t take that much longer as it was designed from the outset to be cooked slowly.

      By the way, I use stainless steel casseroles, not pans. Very light to handle, but with a heavy base so they don’t burn. Cheap too (Amazon). And, for clumsy spoonies, the absence of a long pan handle is a definite safety feature.

      Leave out the cider. I only put it in on a whim, and it gave me an excuse to see if I could drink what was left (last time I tried it went down the sink – this time it went into me!). It works nicely but it’ll still be fine without it. The alcohol would cook out, of course, so that wouldn’t be a problem. The left over cider would though. Clear apple juice might work – probs easier just to leave it though.

      Most people don’t make their own lard, so go with olive oil. Or, at least, oil with some flavour of its own – I can’t abide ingredients that contribute nothing to the finished dish.

      I’ll have a think about recipes – got a great recipe for hake, paella rice, giant Spanish butter beans, paprika and fresh tomatoes coming up** (paprika is a very gentle spice). I’ll have to make that one first, though, as timing will be a bit critical – the fish needs to remain firm and in bite-size chunks.

      **One of my quirks – like writing on autopilot – is that I can put ingredients together in my head and know exactly how they’ll taste. Not the faintest idea how that works either (I suspect most pro chefs can do it too), but I’ve been able to do it since I was about 10. It’s how I create most of my recipes. And sometimes I just see what I’ve got in stock and hit the kitchen. That works too.

      • thanks for that Ron. well i went shopping today for my 2 weeks groceries, including ingredients for this sausage casserole. cheapest cider was over £3.50 (i bet yours was a deal costlier than that.so didn’t get any.couldn’t find any mushroom ketchup or celery salt in my local supermarket and my sis looked in ASDA tonight .they neither of them sell either. my supermarket says Tesco sell it but when i looked at Tesco’s website, they haven’t any either.so i either just add tinned mushrooms (or if i go to the market tomorrow, fresh ones…but that will add a further £8 in taxi fares to the cost) and what can i add instead of celery salt? i had intended doing this tomorrow. have looked online for the ketchup . its pretty dear stuff. found a recipe for making my own which looks easy to do but i would be stumped when it comes to sterilising it as no pan big enough to stand jars of the stuff in. plus it rather defeats the object of a quickly prepared and easily cooked recipe.we dont have waitrose here and sainsbury’s is right out of town. so looks like ill have to wait till i can find or get the missing ingredients online.

        • If you can’t find mushroom ketchup. leave it out. I wouldn’t bother with mushrooms. The ketchup is cheap at £1.79 a bottle, but only Sainsbury’s seem to have it. Schwartz brand celery salt is/should be available everywhere, but it lives with the spices, not the salt. If you know anyone who grows celery, ask if you can have a few leaves – chop and add them. Otherwise, leave it out.

          In the autumn I buy the big, flat mushrooms, cut them into strips, dry them on a radiator, and keep them in a tightly-capped jar in the fridge – instant mushroom flavour. Even easier is to buy a small packet of dried Shiitake mushrooms, and just toss one in as needed. Remove, squeeze, and discard before serving – they go like rubber.

          The cider cost me £1.75 as I recall (on offer at Tesco), but if most of it’s going to be wasted it’s hardly worthwhile.

          So, leave all those out – what you’ll wind up with won’t be the same as mine, but it will certainly be good enough.

          • OK. ILL TRY THAT THIS TIME BUT MEANWHILE ILL MAKE SURE TO GET THE REST OF THE INGREDIENTS AND TRY DO ONE EXACTLY SAME…JUST FOUND OUT MY FRIEND BOB, IN ONE OF THE OTHER BUNGALOWS IS PARTIAL TO A DROP OF CIDER SO HE CAN HAVE THE REST.LOL.
            OK ME FOR BED. AND THANKS FOR YOUR TIME EFFORT AND HELP ON THIS. IM GETTING QUITE EXCITED AT GETTING BACK TO COOKING A FEW RECIPES,ALBEIT SOME BY USING SHORTCUTS BUT IF IT WORKS WHY NOT?STILL CANT PEEL AND CHOP VEGIES FOR VERY LONG OR STAND STIRRING PANS EITHER..BUT SO MANY EQUIVALENTS IN FROZEN,PRE-PREPARED, DRIED ETC THATS NOT A PROBLEM ANY LONGER.

  5. you mention Hake. ive never had that. whats it like?are there a lot of bones to take out or watch out for? had some cod a couple of weeks ago. at least it was supposed to be cod. no taste at all and dry. i had cooked it in foil parcels under the grill 5-7 minutes each side after stirring melted butter ,lemon juice, dried parsley, salt and pepper together. poured over the fish and sprinkled with paprika. simple and easy to do. the dressing was lovely. but didnt seem to transfer to the fish somehow.even my sis who shared it with me, said same. the fish was dry and tasteless. saw newspaper article online about other fish being sold as cod. and my friend Bob told me that it sounded like it could have been whiting.maybe it was. who knows.

    • What you had was, in all probability, Hoki, a fish from the waters around New Zealand which is often dishonestly sold as cod. Hoki, no matter what you do with it, will always taste of bugger all – it’s a veritable black hole for flavourings.

      Definitely not whiting, though, as that’s pretty tasty and has a very delicate texture – I prefer it to cod but it’s very hard to buy as no-one wants it these days – everyone wants unsustainable cod.

      Hake is related to cod, but is somewhat more robust both in texture and flavour. For me it’s best fried as steaks, in a little olive oil and butter, on the bone. In terms of boniness, like cod, once the central bone (the spine), has been removed from the steak, or it’s filleted, there are just a few pin bones to contend with.

      Try coley or pollack (often called pollock, which is wrong). Not as white as cod, but just as tasty in my book. Cheaper, too.

      By the way, if you have a freezer, or even an ice box, freeze some fresh parsley in a plastic bag, just as it is (remove any long stalks. It’s extremely robust, doesn’t suffer from freezing, and keeps its flavour for months. Way better than dried. To use, just slice some off the frozen lump.

      • Thanks Ron. im saving all these suggestions and recipes in a recipe folder.
        reading a novel at the moment about Victorian days in Cornwall in the clay pits, plus the fish floors etc of the fishing industry., i know that authors must get their info about these things more or less correct so research before writing. The subject of cod came up in the part i was reading last night. quote: COD MUST BE EATEN SAME DAY THAT ITS CAUGHT OR IT TASTES OF NOTHING. now i know the way fish is treated now is a whole lot different and in fact i have just got to where they are starting to pack the fish in ice to transport inland. but it does make you wonder. we dont know what they do to these fish before transporting them do we? and although you are in a better position than i am as your nearer the coast than me. ( I think where i live is almost dead centre between east and west coast. give or take a couple of miles or so.) so your fish is possibly fresher than what we get. even with modern ways of dealing with it.
        just a thought that hit me as i spent most of the night (up to 7am this morning) with leg cramps so became wide awake and read my book.. managed to get about 3 hours sleep from 7am to 10am before crawling out of MY pit. like you ill be flagging most of today.

        • While it’s true that fish straight from the sea is as good as it gets (I used to be a sea angler), “fresh fish” can be exactly that, caught from a day boat, and subject to the vagaries of tide and weather. Most, though, comes from gigantic factory ships that that catch, gut and freeze the fish at sea. By the time it gets to your table – or mine – it can be weeks old.

          If fish isn’t labelled with freezing instructions, it’s a safe bet it’s been frozen at sea and thawed prior to sale. Some supermarkets even label it “Previously frozen – do not refreeze”.

          It simply not true, though, that cod more than a day old tastes of nothing – and very easy to disprove**. Some fish naturally have no flavour or, at least, none that we recognise. Hoki is one, Basa (aka River Cobbler), is another.

          **Of course, prior to the rise of the domestic fridge, day-old fish would be close to on the turn, especially in summer, and best avoided anyway.

          • Don’t forget the novel where this was said, is set in Victorian times. so like all living things, will have evolved another 130+ years since then. everything tastes and eats differently these days to how things were back then anyway

            • Ah – didn’t realise it was a novel. Might not be entirely accurate then – novelists do often sacrifice verisimilitude for dramatic effect.

              On a different note, the sausage casserole is excellent. I portioned and froze it with a few spuds so it would be a complete meal. Worked out very well. Be just as good without the cider, I think.

              Also good is my supper – hot buttered toast dusted with crushed Oxo!

              Today’s soup is pretty good too.

              • hi Ron/. you must have missed the novel bit though it does take up a chunk (2-6th line) of the first paragraph in my message of May 12, 2013 at 10:55 am . i just assumed the novelist must have tasted some cod that wasn’t fresh and she could taste nothing. anyway…… gonna try that crumbled oxo on toast. a change from marmite or benecol marge. or even marmalade.
                my appetite has died on me again for some reason. does this every so often for no apparent reason. possibly not getting enough exercise. so not hungry,darn weather keeps changing. so does the change in my bank account.lol. got my shopping order to do. dreading it cos i know how much its gonna come to and resent the prices they are charging for stuff these days. have got some of that mushroom chicken tonight sauce stuff .thinking that might take the place of mushroom ketchup.dont know/ but wouldn’t harm to try it in the sausage casserole i suppose. dunno yet tho. . been putting off doing it with me not knowing what i wanted to eat again .
                hope your feeling much better.

                • I crush an Oxo cube to powder and keep it in an old pepper pot – makes it easy to sprinkle it evenly.

                  Colman’s do a sausage and onion casserole mix http://www.colmans.co.uk/our-range/recipe-mixes/sausage-onion-casserole/ which is much less work. They also do a tomato-based version. No idea what they’re like though, but at 74p they’re worth a try maybe. And it should be easy to tart them up.

                  I’m not having too much fun right now – haven’t slept for nearly a week and feel as if I’m coming unravelled, probably because I am – nothing tips me over like sleep deprivation. The pain in my legs and feet, even if it’s been mostly absent all day, always returns at night. Friday night I finally dozed off and had a very long and complicated dream. Woke up, convinced that a couple of hours must have passed – it was 12 minutes!

                  My appetite did a disappearing act a few days ago and, given that pretty much the only thought in my head at night is “I just want to die – I can’t live like this,” I thought I was going to end up back in hospital, or worse, but at least I found I can eat if I make the effort, unlike before.

                  • dont think sleep deprivation does anyone any good even when they DON’T have med probs. 100% worse though when you do as you’ve few reserves to combat it. i seem to get 1/2 nights every so often when i cant get to sleep till about 4 am ish. last night was one. few nights ago was 7am slept till 10am… in fact most mornings i seem to be staying in bed till 10am as im up n down so oft going to loo during the night. (the diabetes im told..tho why im not like that during the days i dont know.,) it dont compute as apart from a sip of sparkling spring water whenever i wake up to combat the dry mouth, i dont drink in the night. and it is only a mouthful. but 2 hourly 3 at most im up and on the loo. in daytime i drink several cups tea.coffee.often a glass of soda water.. but if i go 3 times in day im lucky. usually its only twice.#
                    but lack of sleep really knocks me.,takes days to recover.. in fact i dont think i do completely.ever,
                    as for dreams. they do only last a few minutes. so the experts say. i think they too contribute to the sleep disturbances. though apparently they only are supposed to occur during the waking up period.
                    yep. the problem with lack of appetite is often finding the energy to be bothered. i seem to be living more on beef tomato sarnies with sea salt/pepper and vinegar on.(dislike the tough skinned foreign salad or cherry ones we are getting in Tesco’s lately.) or soup and am drawn to scones and cake. (always have a heck of a sweet tooth….not good i know. though manage to keep fasting bloods lower than 7 most of the time)

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