No matter how much any of us loves cooking, the last thing we want to do at the end of a long day is spend hours slaving over a hot stove. The ideal midweek dinner needs to be wholesome, fuss-free, and ready to serve before our hungry brood starts chewing the napkins!
Whenever I’m asked for a flavorful family-friendly meal recipe, I always return to this sausage stew. It requires relatively little looking-after, and is so delicious that it’s the perfect way to persuade children (or meat-loving husbands!) to eat some healthy vegetables. The barbecued tomato flavor improves over time, so whilst it will taste great after an hour, it will be even better (and easier for you!) if it’s prepared the night before and simply reheated at supper time.
So here’s my step-by-step guide to the feelgood meal that will leave your family pleasantly satisfied, without leaving you exhausted!
Sausage Stew Recipe
Serves 4, but quantities can easily be increased for larger families.
6 – 8 high quality sausages
4 rashers of smoked bacon, or if you prefer spicy stew use 100g chorizo
1 red onion, peeled and diced
2 cloves of garlic
2 bell peppers (red, orange and yellow will all emphasize the Southern feel of the dish)
1 tin of kidney beans
1 tin chopped tomatoes
250ml – 500ml chicken stock (depending on how long you can leave the stew cooking and how thick you like the consistency)
1 medium red chilli pepper (only if you and your family like spicy)
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
1 dash cayenne pepper
3 bay leaves
2 tablespoons (or more) balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons (or more) runny honey
Seasoning (salt and pepper)
Split your sausages in half by gently squeezing the middle section and twisting the ends in opposite directions, then cutting through the knot in the skin. Heat oil in a pan and fry the small sausage patties until they turn golden brown.
Using a heavy-based pan or casserole dish and some of the oil from the browned sausages, fry together onions, garlic and smoked bacon until soft. I’d recommend using chorizo rather than bacon if you like spicy, frying the Spanish sausage until the bright red oil mixes in with the onions.
Put the sausages back in the pan, along with summer-hued bell peppers. Now add smoked paprika to the casserole, plus a dash of cayenne pepper and a fresh red chilli if your family are spice fanatics!
Pour chopped tomatoes into the sausage mix, along with kidney beans and a few bay leaves. If your children aren’t willing to try kidney beans, regular baked beans also work well and will give the sauce extra sweetness.
The secret ingredients that transform this dish are sharp salty balsamic vinegar and sweet honey. Start by adding equal quantities of each, plus a generous handful of seasoning. Depending on how urgently you need to put dinner on the table, increase the liquid level with some chicken stock, bring the sauce to the boil and let it bubble for at least 20 minutes. Keep testing the sauce to check its flavour – the stew should take on a deep barbecue flavour as it develops, and may need more honey or balsamic adding to enhance its richness.
The spicy sausage stew is ready once the sauce has transformed into a thick gravy. Another reason why this meal is so family-friendly is that it tastes just as good served with mashed potat, rice, wedges, or even a hunk of fresh bread – so your kids will love it, no matter what their preferred source of carbohydrate!