At this time of year, when the days get shorter and the trees are starting to drop their Autumn leaves, we often look forward to making and enjoying comfort food. Most people consider comfort food to be hearty casseroles, stews and pies. This recipe is a cross between a casserole and a pie, it is easy to make and will appeal to people of all ages. It can easily be made vegetarian and with a few specialist ingredients, vegan too. The gravy is an interesting combination of sweet and sour using cider and balsamic vinegar as its base. Apple juice can easily be substituted if you don’t want to use alcohol.
Ingredients (serves 4)
1 tablespoon oil
8 thick pork sausages
1 large onion sliced thinly
3 carrots sliced or diced
2 sticks celery chopped
1 parsnip chopped
1 small leek sliced into rings
1 eating apple cored and chopped
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 heaped tsp Dijon mustard
1 heaped teaspoon honey
1 stock cube
Salt and pepper
1 Tbs cornflour mixed with water
200g SR Flour
50g soft butter or margarine
Salt, pepper, mustard mixture (tsp each)
1 egg beaten with 50ml milk
Pre heat oven to Fan 180 or regular 200, gas mark 6
Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the sausages. Cook for a few minutes until well browned, do not prick the skins as this will keep the sausages juicy inside. When the sausages are a good colour remove to an ovenproof casserole dish. In the same frying pan add the onions (a little more oil if required) and cook until starting to look translucent then add all the other vegetables and the apple and cook stirring frequently for a few minutes. This will start to soften the vegetables. Add the salt and pepper to taste and the mustard and the honey. Add the contents of the pan to the casserole dish. To deglaze the frying pan, add the cider and bring to the boil, add the vinegar and the water, sprinkle on the stock cube. Pour this liquid into the casserole dish. Stir the contents of the casserole dish and cover with a lid or tin foil and place into the oven. Bake for about 45minutes until the vegetables are tender.
During this time make the cobbler. Add the butter to the self-rising flour and rub in with fingers tips, Add the seasoning and mustard. Add the egg milk mixture bit by bit until you can form a dough that will roll out. Reserve a little egg mixture for glazing. Pat or roll the dough until it is about 2 cm thick and cut out rounds using a small cutter.
When the vegetables are tender take the casserole out of the oven. Remove the lid or foil and pour in the cornflour water, stirring it all around. This will thicken the gravy. Place the cobbler rounds around the circumference of the dish. Brush the tops with a little egg mixture. Put back into the oven and bake for a further 10 to 15 minutes until the cobblers are risen and golden brown.