Bangers and mash, one of my favorite British dishes. Mrs. Dean and I took in a guided pub walk in Chelsea, ending up at what was then the King’s Head and Eight Bells. We had been chatted up by some fellow pub crawler from Florida who was on various airline “sudden deal” lists, and pretty much every weekend he would fly somewhere on an overnight exotica trip for ninety nine bucks or whatever.
The pub walk itself was slow yet enjoyable. Unlike USians who find British beer warm and flat, I easily adapt to it and am prone to having perhaps one too many pints of Old Speckled Hen or Boddington’s. Besides the beer stories, our guide regaled us between pubs with history, probably so that people like myself wouldn’t outpace the others, staggering or stumbling to the final venues. One of the first pubs had “Oregon Ale”, brewed locally but hopped with leafy buds from the Willamette Valley. Ah nostalgia! The penultimate pub, our guide assured us after lecturing about various events in the history of, perhaps, Cheyne Walk, was guaranteed to be a surprise! And it was! It was the Surprise! Tavern, named after HMS Surprise! It was so memorable that on a later trip, after dropping lug at some hipster youth hostel in Gray’s Inn Road, I insisted that we tube over to Sloane Square and find the place again.
The King’s Head etc. was the last pub of the tour, but we stayed for dinner. Seeing bangers and mash on the menu, I knew what I would be ordering. Florida Man had I guess been wandering about but had returned, espied us, and joined us just after we had ordered. This was when we learned of his travel hobby. We also learned that he tended to be strict about his diet, eating mostly vegetables, didn’t usually drink so much. He struggled through the menu looking for an acceptable item. Waitstaff was eventually signaled, and his salad order placed just as ours was being delivered. Mrs. Dean likely had lamb, as that meat is curiously (to us USians) inexpensive in the UK so we never really ate it that much at home.
“What’s that?” asked Florida Man as waitstaff flourished a platter of fatty meat carbs before me. “Bangers and mash”, said I, “sausage and mashed potatoes with onion gravy. It’s a traditional…”. Before I could finish my lecture, FM was standing and shoving his chair back, prior to actually running after the waitron shouting about wanting to change his order.
I recently had guests. Snacks were demanded. “I could make some onion gravy”, I suggested, but they weren’t into it. I often make it: quick, tasty, nutritious, uses up the extra alliums often laying around trying to sprout. “It’s just a stock reduction!” – I usually have ample poultry stock as well. Good on the leftover carbs abundant after guest feasts. Having mentioned it I wanted some myself, so made rather a lot.
Days before, watching cooking videos, I saw a new (to me) dish, Hasselback potatoes. Like making thick potato chips but not slicing all the way through, so you have an intact spud that looks like a ribcage. Slather with tasty fat and bake. A nice substrate for possibly too much gravy. I picked up a couple of Russets and gave it a whirl. Having some duck fat on hand (not as usual has having alliums or poultry stock), I basted them every twenty minutes or so with that. Somewhere along the line I realized that in a couple of months when I allow myself to have sausage, I could concoct a new dish, derived from the British classic, bangers and Hasselback potatoes, bangers and Hass for short.