Growing up, Sunday night meals were always different from the rest.
If the extended family hadn’t gathered for a big lunch, we would, almost without exception, have spent the afternoon together for coffee. In our family, no gathering is really conceivable without prodigious quantities of food, so when I say coffee, think more of a light luncheon served a bit later in the day.
Come Sunday evening, nobody, least of all my Mum who had done most of the cooking, felt like a large meal of the meat and three veg variety. The guests had left. In their wake the house felt empty. The dying strains of The Wonderful World of Disney could be heard from some remote corner of the house as if quietly jeering, “That’s it, your weekend is over, the cold world awaits you on the morrow. And by the way you’re late with your English homework.”
Sunday nights were made for comfort food, those in between dishes that frowning matrons would not consider a proper meal, carbohydrates and peasant cooking.
Times have changed. Family dinners tend to be on Saturday nights and the weekly Sunday coffee gathering are long gone. Sunday night syndrome is not, thankfully, what it used to be. But damned if I’m going to let those supper dishes go.
This Sunday’s was one my mother and grandmother used to make, sometimes as part of a larger meal. It used to be a staple of mine too, then somehow over the years I’d forgotten it until the other day I found a loop of Krakowska sausage in the freezer. The shape reminded me of the thicker type of rookworst sausage my mother used to use for this dish. Pretty much any smoked pork sausage would do, at a real push maybe even kransky, but I’d avoid sausages that are highly seasoned, dry or fatty – leave the salami end of the spectrum and go for something with more moisture.
I’ve served it with mash, but it’s also good alongside noodles, buckwheat kasha or just a good piece of rye bread. You could also stop before the thickening stage and use the sausage and onions with a little goats cheese and caraway on a pizza base.
Smoked Sausage and Melted Onion Sauce
2tbsp vegetable oil
500g or 1lb moist smoked pork sausage, in 1/2cm or 1/4″ slices
8 to 10 medium onions, halved and cut into 1/2cm or 1/4″ slices
freshly ground black pepper
1 large or two small bay leaves
2 to 3 tbsp cider or other mild white vinegar
11/2 to 2 tbsp flour
1 1/2c good beef or chicken stock
sugar to taste (if needed)
1. Heat vegetable oil in a broad, heat proof casserole or similar. Add sausage and cook over a moderate heat until the sausage is deep golden brown. If the sausage is fatty, reduce the amount of oil you start with.
2. Add the onions, bay leaf and seasonings. It will look like a lot, but the onions really cook down.
3. Cook over low to moderate heat stirring frequently until the onions are starting to melt and turn a light golden brown. You will need to stir more often and perhaps reduce heat as the onions get closer to being ready. If you burn the onions it’s pretty much all over. If you’re having problems, add some of the stock or some water little by little so as to let the onions cook some more without sticking.
3. Add the vinegar to taste and let it cook out. Remove the bay leaf. If you want to put this on bread of some kind check the seasonings. Depending on the onions and vinegar, you may need to add a touch of sugar. If so, sprinkle it in and let it cook through. Taste again in case you need more. If it’s too sweet, you can try to balance with a little more vinegar.
4. Sprinkle the flour over the onion mixture, stir in through, let the mixture cook a little – you want the flour to cook through some. Stir in the stock. It will tend to go more easily if the stock is already hot. If the sauce is to thick add more stock or water. Check for seasonings, sugar or more vinegar as at step 3 above.
5. You’re ready to serve.