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Irish Bangers with Colcannon & Whisky Onion Gravy
There is nothing quite as comforting as bangers & mash. Homemade Irish-style bangers (sausages) are worth the effort to make. Think how there are no preservatives, chemicals or gluten ingredients present in these bangers, plus their flavour is incredibly delicious.
Colcannon is mashed potatoes with cabbage or kale (or both) which gives it a nice snap in texture and flavour to the mash. Served as a side with practically any main meal, this traditional Irish dish is fondly known as the perfect winter food.
To top off the meal, a rich whisky onion gravy is served. This is serious homemade pub food!
Making Irish Bangers from scratch
Going through my many cookbooks and reliable food bloggers, I notice that the sausage stuffing that makes a classic Irish banger can be either filled in hog casings or moulded into logs without casings.
Naturally, if you are game to have a go with filling hog cases, you will need a sausage attachment for your stand mixer. This is quite an investment for those who are dubious about whether sausage making will be a regular activity, therefore I would opt for the skinless sausages moulded by hand. These are also known as Ćevapi.
However, if you are super keen to attempt sausage making, then I have just the perfect website for you to get all the tips and steps to assemble them. I followed Chef Billy Parisi’s recipe for homemade Irish-style Bangers.
My verdict is that he explains very clearly how to make them (video included), and I reckon the recipe made the best bangers I have ever made. The only modifications I made to his recipe were substituting regular breadcrumbs with store-bought or homemade gluten-free breadcrumbs and adding some white pepper.
For the skinless bangers’ ingredients, I left out the crushed ice and added an egg to bind the sausage mixture together.
Both styles of bangers’ ingredients are listed in the recipe card, however, due to copyright laws, I am unable to also list the instructions to assemble the bangers with the hog cases, but as mentioned earlier, Chef Billy Parisi explains all the steps on his website.
This hearty potato & cabbage/kale mash is easy to make and can be made ahead of time.
The name, Colcannon comes from the Gaelic words, cál and caineann, which mean cabbage (or kale) and leek.
Spring onions & milk
To add more flavour to the mash, add some sliced spring onions (or leeks) to the milk when heating it up. Allow it to sit for at least 30 mins so that the spring onion flavour penetrates into the warm milk.
The milk can either be strained from the spring onions or added together to the potatoes when it comes time to mash. This step is used to make Champ, a Northern Irish mashed potato dish, but without cabbage or kale.
Cabbage or Kale, or both!
Adding both cabbage and kale gives the colcannon a greener colour and different textures in the mash, but you can also leave one out if you prefer or if kale is out of season.
The colcannon is simply seasoned with salt and loads of white pepper, but as always, remember to taste, adjust to your preference and taste again!
Should I fry or blanch the cabbage?
Before adding cabbage or kale to the mash, there seems to be mixed opinions on what cooking method is best for colcannon. Frying or sauteing either cabbage or kale for 4 minutes needs more butter and will make the mash richer but notably crunchier. On the flip side, blanching the leaves in boiling water for one minute is less fatty and softer on the palate. Either method will transform the mash into a hearty and delicious colcannon serving with a generous dollop of butter resting on each portion.
For a fluffy mash, use starchy, floury potatoes such as Russet, Idaho or Desiree.
What condiments go with Irish Bangers?
Traditionally, apple sauce, HP sauce, mustards and/or tomato sauce (Ketchup), but just about any condiments will pair up nicely with these bangers. I enjoyed mine with homemade whisky onion gravy and some hot mustard.
More about my Whisky Onion Gravy
This gravy happened by accident while I was frying the bangers during my test runs. I saw the pan slowly filling up with the pork meat juices and some fat. Once the bangers were cooked, I removed them to a low oven to keep warm and thought it seemed such a waste to not use all that tempting residue as part of a gravy. Out came the onions, a few shots of whisky (Irish of course!) and whatever I could find in my fridge to make a decent gravy. This is how I cook sometimes, with varying results, but this gravy was unbelievable. Just full of goodness and a nice lingering taste of whisky and onions for the bangers to absorb.
Give it a try if you are partial to gravy as I am!
Made too much?
The good news is that the bangers, Colcannon, and gravy are all freezer-proof. See my notes at the end of the recipe card for more details on this.
Gluten-Free Irish Bangers & Colcannon with Gravy
- Food processor optional
GLUTEN-FREE IRISH BANGERS: recipe adapted slightly from https://www.billyparisi.com/homemade-irish-style-bangers-recipe/
- Natural Pork/Hog Casing
- 1.2 kg pork shoulder or Boston Butt
- 300 g pork belly
- 1¼ tsp garlic granules or powder
- ¾ tsp onion granules or powder
- 1¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- ¾ tsp ground mace
- 1¼ tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp white pepper, my addition to Chef Billy Parisi's recipe
- 1½ tbsp sea salt
- 1 tsp dried rosemary
- 1 tsp dried sage
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 375 ml crushed ice
- store-bought or homemade gluten-free breadcrumbs
- 1½ kg pork mince, if not using a meat grinder
- All the remaining ingredients used in the 'with skin" EXCEPT the crushed ice
- 1 egg, an extra ingredient to bind the meat
- 1 kg floury potatoes, peeled approx. 8 medium-sized potatoes for every kilo
- 400 ml warm milk, full-fat or low-fat
- 50-70 g butter at room temperature
- 2 spring onions chopped finely
- ½ leek, sliced thinly
- 250 g white cabbage, shredded finely
- 250 g kale, shredded finely. If kale is out of season, double the quantities for white cabbage.
- 2 tsp salt
- 1-2 tsp white pepper
GLUTEN-FREE WHISKY ONION GRAVY
- 1 white or yellow onion, sliced thinly
- 1 banana shallot, finely chopped
- 20 g butter
- 20 g cornflour Known as cornflour in the UK and corn or maize starch in the USA
- 2 tbsp whisky Irish, if possible
- ½ tbsp store-bought or store-bought or homemade gluten-free Worcester sauce
- 150 ml store-bought or homemade beef stock, warmed
- 2 tsp runny honey
- 1 tbsp fresh parsley leaves, chopped finely
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary, optional
- Freshly ground black pepper and salt, to season
GLUTEN-FREE IRISH BANGERS
- Please click on the following link to follow Chef Billy Parisi's written and video instructions.
- If using a meat grinder, place the pork shoulder and belly 5cm pieces in the freezer for 15-20 mins.
- Grind the pork using a medium size dye and mix in all the remaining ingredients (except the crushed ice).
- Add the egg and mix well with the pork mixture.
- Chill for 15 mins before shaping the ground pork mixture into sausage shape logs. Add more breadcrumbs if the mixture feels too wet or add more egg if it is too dry.
Frying the bangers
- Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F.
- Using a large cast iron or regular pan, add some olive oil to heat up to medium heat.
- Prick the bangers several times with a toothpick or small skewer and add them to the pan.This step is not necessary for skinless bangers.
- Fry all sides of the bangers for 15 mins (10 mins for skinless bangers) and once they are nice and golden, transfer them to an oven tray. Cover with some foil and keep them warm in the oven until the colcannon and gravy are ready. Set the frying pan aside to make the gravy. Do not rinse the pan!
- Add the milk to a medium saucepan.
- Chop the white and lower green part of the spring onions finely then add them or sliced leeks to the milk.
- Bring the milk to a boil. As soon as it reaches boiling point, remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the milk to cool and steep with the spring onions/leeks for 30 mins.
- In the meantime, peel the potatoes and cut them into bite-size pieces.
- Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover them with salted cold water.
- Bring to a boil and cook partially covered for 15-20 mins or until the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork.
- Remove the cooked potatoes and set them aside in a sieve. Don’t throw out the water from the pot yet.
- Finely shred the cabbage/kale by hand or in a food processor, pulsing several times.
- Add them to the potato water and blanch for one minute & drain.Alternatively, fry them in some butter for 4 mins until wilted.
- Discard the pot water and return the pot to medium heat. Add the cooked potatoes to the pot with the butter and mash them using a potato masher, mixing in the cabbage next.
- Gradually pour in the milk, together with the spring onions. If you prefer, you can leave out the spring onions if you find them too strong.
- Once the mash looks well combined and has enough body to form peaks, turn off the heat and taste, adjusting the salt and white pepper accordingly.
GLUTEN-FREE WHISKY ONION GRAVY
- Gather the ingredients needed to make the gravy.
- Gently fry the onions and shallot for 10 mins in the bangers’ fat and residue left in the pan. If there is too much fat, remove some to make it less fatty.
- In a separate small pot, heat the beef stock up on the stove or in the microwave in a jug.
- Add the butter to the pot and once melted, add the cornflour and mix well for 2 mins.
- Pour in the whisky and keep mixing well, scraping the bottom of the pan to release some of the residue.
- Add the warm beef stock, together with the gluten-free Worcestershire or Tamari sauce, honey, chopped parsley and rosemary sprig. The gravy will start to thicken and darken after 6 to 8 mins. Increase the heat slightly should this be taking longer.
- Season with salt and black pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
- The gravy can be left on the lowest heat with the lid on while doing the finishing touches and plating up the rest of the meal.
- On warm plates, place a generous portion of colcannon on one side of the plate, topping with some butter in the middle of each mound to create a small pool of semi-melted butter.
- Ladle several spoons of gravy next to the colcannon.
- Remove the bangers from the oven and immediately place four bangers over the gravy on each plate.
- Serve immediately with your favourite mustard or other condiments.