L1100758Our friend and new-found pork purveyor, Steven Wiskow, gave us some Tender Belly Franks to try out here at the château.  I’ll be honest, as always here at the Sporting Road, as we aren’t selling anything and turn down all requests for advertising—I looked at them and said, “What in the hell are we going to do with these?”  They are uncured Berkshire pork franks, and they say that theycall them franks because of the extra effort we put into them. They are uncured and 100% Berkshire pork from the hind leg, coarse-ground like wonderful Old World sausage. They are applewood-smoked and have a subtly sweet and delightfully salty taste. The snap our frank makes when you bite into it is exactly what you would expect….Perfection.”

Alright, so we have a package of uncured Berkshire pork franks.  I thought of calling Gordon Ramsay, but it was too late in England to ring him up, and after a day of fox-hunting, dinner time here in the U.S. was quickly approaching with two girls waiting for my creation.  Having spent many days putting food on the table hunting, my family knows that I can whip about anything up into a quick dish thanks to my mother.  And, since County Berkshire is home to Britain’s oldest breed of pig, I had the revelation that they must have made the traditionally English bangers and mash from these links, probably since the beginning of time, and since I couldn’t find Gordon on the speed dial, I put down the phone and picked up the skillet.

In a large skillet over medium heat, I cooked the sausages until well browned.  And, since they said they were “uncured” but they looked cooked when they were warmed and starting to become golden brown, but I couldn’t be sure, I cooked for 5 minutes more each side.  Remove from pan, and set aside.  As Ramsay likes to say, “Done.”  But, I discovered upon cutting them, that they were “done” already, as they are already cooked.  The coloring did them good and they didn’t dry out nor did the skins burst, so I wouldn’t adjust the timing set forth above.

While they were  browning, I added four teaspoons of butter to the skillet, and fried two halved and thinly sliced onions over medium heat until tender, brown, and starting to carmelize.  Add a little olive oil if things start to stick. And add a 1/4 cup of chicken stock or Cognac (shhhh, don’t tell the English they will all be running over to discover what you did to improve their national dish).    A little salt and pepper doesn’t hurt either.

Now for the big confession, and I am a bit embarrassed to admit that I used instant potatoes.  If it is any help, I discovered them from my Hungarian friend’s family in Hungary.  Since potatoes are about as necessary to Hungary as they are to Idaho, maybe that makes them sound more exotic and acceptable.  The fact remains, they are fast and easy, and I challenge you to blind taste them along side real mashed potatoes, but only if you use real butter and milk in their preparation, instead of margarine and water, which are often called for on the box.  Anyway, they worked great for a quick and easy family meal, done in under 20 minutes, as the water boils as the sausages cooked away.  Follow the directions, and the better boxes, which claim to use Idaho potatoes, are better than the generic brands.

For the uninitiated, bangers are a type of sausage common to the UK and they are often an essential part of pub food, and as they are quick to prepare, they are commonplace in the home kitchen.  We enjoyed them in London and throughout the countryside along the Sporting Road while fox-hunting and fly fishing in England.  But you don’t have to make it sound exotic, everyone enjoys this dish, even kids!

In the UK, bangers are found throughout the butcher shops and appear white and pink in the case, as they are made primarily of pork butt, with breadcrumbs, seasonings and other natural additives, usually made fresh at the shop, like those we got handed to us courtesy of Tender Belly, and then stuffed into casings.  You can find them here.

The only thing that would make these more English is a side of peas, so being one to fancy tradition, I whipped up some frozen peas to garnish the plate and then I threw them away, as no one really enjoys peas, not even the English.   These are perhaps the best product that Tender Belly offers, although they are all great,  but they are worth the money, these are happy little sausages.  And, Happy hunting!