Elevate your pork sausage dinner with this delicious one-pan meal, with pan-fried sausage with caramelized mustard onions and a lovely potato pear mash.
I came across this recipe in an old magazine recently and immediately moved it to the top of my cooking queue. Sausage is in regular rotation here, but let's face it, sausage is difficult to make into a special dinner. After making this recipe, I can tell you without hesitation that this is a special sausage dinner!
Start with a really nice pork sausage, that you pan-fry to golden. Then make the caramelized onion and mustard topping in the same pan. While all that is cooking, boil some potatoes and at the end, add a bit of pear. Yes pear! Trust me :) Assemble your plate with your lovely sausage on top of the potato pear mash and top with your beautiful onions. The combination of flavours is absolutely fantastic!
Sausage - since this is a meal where the sausage is the star, if you can, seek out a really great, butcher-made pork sausage, maybe from a farm store or an independent meat shop. A plain pork sausage (sometimes called Country or Farmers Pork Sausage) is ideal or possibly garlic pork (that's what I used here as there were no plain pork sausage when I went to the butcher). I would avoid a Honey Garlic, as I don't think the extra sweetness is needed with the pear potatoes. I would definitely avoid Italian Sausage. While there are lots of great uses for Italian sausage, I've never really enjoyed them straight up like this and I don't think the flavours of Italian sausage are especially suited to the onion/mustard/pear thing going on here.
Pear - I love Bosc pears and it's usually my first choice when it comes to pears. They are often sold almost ripe and they ripen quickly. Plus, they taste exactly like I think a pear should taste. Ripe or close to ripe pears will give you the nicest flavour and soften quickly in the boiling water.
Grainy Mustard - I definitely recommend a good grainy mustard, as the mustard seeds make a great addition to the onion topping. I love Maille à l'Ancienne (Old Style) mustard (not sponsored in any way, I am just a fan.) If you don't have or want to buy grainy mustard, you can use regular Dijon mustard in slightly less quantity, as it is a bit stronger in flavour than the grainy one.
Herbs - I used tarragon here, because I love tarragon, I had some I needed to use from my garden before it froze and it pairs really nicely with the flavours. That said, I think you either love or hate tarragon, so if you're not sure, go with the safer thyme. Fresh is always nicest, but dried will work here, too.
Potatoes - use a starchy potato, such as Yukon Gold or Russet. Use whatever kind you prefer for making mashed potatoes. I used Yukon Gold here.
If you prefer, you can partially cook the sausage on the BBQ (you just need to brown them a bit) and skip the whole pan-frying part at the start of the recipe. Simply pick up the recipe from the onions.
When I pan-fry sausage, I like to add a splash of water a couple of times through the browning process. It loosens the brown bits on the bottom of the pan and prevents them from scorching. It also bathes the sausage in that brown goodness as they cook.
If you're a bit skeptical about the Potato Pear Mash, let me assure you it is delicious, well-worth making and pairs so beautifully with the pork sausage and mustard onions. It doesn't taste "like pear". It tastes like potatoes, with a subtle sweet note, that you'd have trouble knowing what it was if you hadn't made the dish.
Like all mashed potatoes, be sure to season well with salt and pepper, as it will really bring out all the great flavours in the mash.
Sausage with Mustard Onions and Potato Pear Mash
For the sausage:
- 4 pork sausages, good quality (not Italian or honey garlic flavoured)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil, DIVIDED
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 tsp grainy mustard
- 1-2 sprigs tarragon, or thyme or several pinches of dried tarragon or thyme leaves
- 2 Tbsp dark brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp cider vinegar
For the potatoes:
- 1 lb. starchy potatoes, such as Yukon Gold or Russet, peeled and chopped
- 1 Bosc pear, peeled, cored and chopped
- 1/4 tsp hot English Mustard, such as Keen's or Dijon
- 2-4 Tbsp milk, as needed
- 2 Tbsp butter
- Start the potatoes by preparing the potatoes and placing in a large pot. Cover with cold water by a couple of inches salt the water and heat to boiling over high heat. Boil potatoes until tender.
- Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a skillet over a little higher than medium heat. Add the sausage and cook, turning regularly, until golden brown, about 8-10 minutes. If the skillet seems dry as they cook, add a splash of water to the pan and let it cook off, as needed. (They don't need to be cooked through at this point, as they will be cooked further later). Remove to a plate and set aside.
- Heat remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil in the same skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, salt and pepper and cook, stirring, for 7-8 minutes, until softened and golden. Add the mustard, tarragon (or thyme), brown sugar and vinegar. Stir to combine. Return the sausage to the pan, reduce heat to medium-low and cover the skillet (if your skillet doesn't have a lid, cover with a large baking sheet or even aluminum foil.) Cook covered for about 10 minutes, or until the sausage is cook through and the onions are caramelized.
- Remove lid from skillet and continue cooking, uncovered, stirring as needed, until the liquid evaporates and the onions are syrupy.
- When potatoes are tender, add the pear and boil for 1 minute more, until pears are tender. Drain and return to the pot. Add a pinch of dry mustard and the milk, a bit at a time, as needed, to make a creamy mash. Add the butter and stir in. Taste the potatoes and season with additional salt and pepper, as needed. Keep warm until sausage is ready.
- To serve, add warm potatoes to the plate. Top with sausage and some of the onion mixture. Garnish with additional fresh herbs, if desired.
Nutritional information provided for general guidance only and should not be relied upon to make personal health decisions.
Recipe adapted from a Donna Hay recipe