Squash and sausage casserole

  • Time: 1 Hour
  • Serves: 4
  • Level: easy

‘… With so much hearty sauce you’ll need a good chunk of bread to dip in there and finish it all up.’

Leo Williamson
'Loads of sauce and loads of flavour. Here's an inexpensive and tasty winter warmer that will satisfy the whole family without breaking the bank.'

What you need

1 butternut squash (approx. 500g)

500g waxy potatoes

400g – 550g sausages (6-8 sausages)

500ml chicken stock

1 large onion

2 celery sticks

2 cloves garlic

2 tbs tomato puree

2 bay leaves

1tsp dried oregano

Large handful chopped parsley

Squeeze of lemon

 

 



Dad's Recipe Tales

My winter squashes have kept remarkably well. I put them in a wide bowl and stored them in the dining room. Their colourful arrangement took on the appearance of a still-life painting and featured in many attractive table scenes. But squash is not decoration; it’s food and should be eaten.

My squashes are definitely due for consumption… The small onion-shaped ‘sunspot’ squash was a bit mouldy. Mrs WDC placed it beside my kitchen workspace. This statement could mean only one thing: I had one day to use it before it would go on the compost heap. Okay, a small part had indeed begun its own composting process, but I was not unduly worried by this biological activity. According to James Wong, in his RHS book, Grow For Flavour my squashes have been biologically active for months.

James describes how the starches in squash break down during storage (‘curing’, as growers would say) creating squash’s characteristic sweet buttery flavour. Further, the carotene in squash (the chemical that gives squash – along with crops such as peppers, carrots and tomatoes, its orange colour) is also active. The deeper the colour of skin and flesh, the better the flavour. The beneficial curing period ranges from about one month for acorn type squashes and up to six months for butternuts. However, we are advised by James, not to store our squashes longer than necessary as there is a crash in flavour after the ‘peak’ curing time.

Well, my sunspot seemed fine and tasted delicious. Sunspot is a type of Japanese onion squash and has the flavour of sweet potato, chestnut and popcorn. The Japanese blend this into their savoury egg custards. I decided that sausage and chestnuts are a good flavour combination and so cooked my squash in a sausage casserole.

How Dad Cooked It

This is more of an assemblage – like ratatouille – than a one-pot stew. I find sausages lose their flavour and potatoes or squash can disintegrate during the stewing process. I therefore cook ingredients separately and then merge their flavours in a single pot at the end of cooking. All the preparation processes can be overlapped and done at the same time.

  1. Prepare the squash. Cut the squash in half and with a large spoon remove the seeds. With a sharp knife, carefully peel the squash and chop into bite-size chunks.
  2. Prepare the vegetables. Peel the potatoes and cut in half, rinse and put in a large pan of salted water. Chop the onion and celery into small dice. Crush, peel and slice the garlic.
  3. Cook the potatoes. Bring the pan of water to a simmer and cook the potatoes until they are three-quarters cooked. They should still be quite firm when prodded with the tip of a knife. Drain and reserve.
  4. Cook the sausages. Twist each sausage in half and cut the skin to make two small sausages. Fry the sausages in a little oil on a medium heat until browned on all sides. Do not burn the sausages; the fat; or the pan – this way you can recapture the flavours left in the pan. Put the sausages aside and deglaze the pan with some of the stock, stir with a wooden spoon until all residues have dissolved.
  5. Cook the squash. In a small non-stick pan set on a medium heat, gently saute the squash until nearly cooked and still slightly firm when prodded with the tip of a knife.
  6. Make the casserole. In a large saute pan (with lid), gently fry the onion and celery for 10 minutes, then add the garlic and continue to fry for 5 minutes. Add the tomato puree and stir for a minute. Turn the heat up to high and add the stock, deglazing liquid, bay leaves and oregano. When boiling reduce the heat to medium, put on the lid and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the potatoes and cook for 5 minutes, then add the sausages and most of the parsley and cook for 5 minutes. Finally add the squash and cook for a further 5 minutes or until the potatoes and squash are tender. Season with salt, pepper and lemon to taste. Garnish with parsley.

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