Bangers & Mash with Guinness Gravy is pub fare fit for a St. Patrick’s Day celebration or whenever the comfort food notion strikes!
The addition of a dried bread or biscuit known as rusk was oftentimes added to sausage and processed meats to bulk it up during times of war and ration. Irish sausages called bangers get their name due in large part to the ‘bang’ while cooking, all attributable to the rusk!
For the uninitiated, Bangers & Mash with Guinness Gravy is the familiar term for sausage and mash, a favorite British and Irish dish typically served with a heavy and rich golden brown onion gravy (which is fabulous on pork chops, too!).
Past its quirky name, classic Bangers & Mash with Guinness-Onion Gravy is typical pub grub in Britain and Ireland. It becomes a perennial popular pub dish in the States and Canada nearer to Saint Patrick’s Day.
It’s an easy recipe that has all the hallmarks of favorite comfort foods wrapped up neatly in a traditional dish. It’s a great way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in cooking this up and indulging in a pint!
Do You Have What’s Needed to Cook Up Bangers & Mash with Guinness Onion Gravy? Check The List!
- Irish sausage or other raw sausages such as garlic-style bangers, beef sausage, or chicken sausage
- drizzle of olive oil
- Guinness Stout or other stout beer or dark beer
- russet potatoes
- yellow onions
- fresh thyme leaves
- Worcestershire sauce
- all-purpose flour
- beef broth or chicken broth
- Kosher salt
- black pepper
How This Recipe Came About…
I remember eating a version of bangers and mash as a child (and not liking it very much) at my Grandmother DeRemer’s house. As it turns out, I am Irish, and bangers and mash were my Grandma DeRemer’s grandmother’s specialty.
I vaguely remember my grandmother telling me the story while we ate. How her grandmother who was from Ireland would make this dish for the family weekly.
I was much too young to absorb much of any of what was being said, so I was focused mainly on the ONLY part of the meal I liked, the mashed potatoes. I recall gram saying that her grandmother used to refer to everybody from their milkman to the neighbor’s cat as ‘McGillicutty.’
It was not until about a year ago that I realized McGillicutty is a filler word you use when you just can’t think of a person’s name. Who is McGillicutty?
Do As the Irish Do…
Among the best helpings of bangers and mash I’ve eaten (it slowly grew on me) were in Canada, specifically Montreal where nearly 49% of the population is Irish.
Getting caught in Montreal on St. Patrick’s Day is likely the best time you’ll ever have. Seriously, like in your entire lifetime. Canadians know how to celebrate an Irish holiday apparently.
The recipe I share today is made with a rich onion gravy…a Guinness onion gravy…and fork tender traditional bangers, the method for which I learned from an Irish Canadian friend in Montreal.
For the best mashed potatoes use either Russets or Yukon Gold. These starchy potatoes taste the best and make the smoothest, fluffiest mashed potatoes.
Also known as sausage and mash, this dish consists of one of any number of flavored sausages made of pork, lamb, or beef. Recipes for sausage and mash invariably recommend the best “butcher’s sausage” you can afford.
What Types of Sausage Works If I Cannot Find Bangers?
As a general rule of thumb go pork and keep it traditional. If you can find some great butcher-made pork sausage, it’ll perfect for this dish. But truly, your local butcher is the guy to hook you up.
If you prefer something other than pork, use any sausage you like. I have seen recipes where even Bratwurst sausages were specified. I’ve also seen this dish served with butcher-made beef sausages, however, have yet to sample in this method.
My preference for traditional Irish bangers goes back to the ‘McGillicutty thing,’ but it’s also because I prefer a tasty, relatively straightforward pork sausage. Something on the scale from a zippy Cumberland link to say a sage-spiked Lincolnshire variety.
I Am a Sausage Geek and Good Sausages Do Make a Difference
On a recent trip to Trader Joe’s, I found a package of sausages labeled Irish Bangers. The label even listed rusk as an ingredient. PERFECT and in keeping with tradition.
A Bit of History…
But here is where I must interject a smidge of history, so you will understand why…during the early 20th century thanks to two World Wars, much of Great Britain experienced meat shortages.
This led to pork sausages being ‘bulked’ with cheap fillers, a high water content, and crushed biscuit to help stretch the meat reserves. When cooked, these shifty embellished sausages had the propensity to explode out of their casings and the term “banger” was born. Well, supposedly.
The Addition of Rusk…
And rusk? Well, it turns out rusk is the crumbled remains of an English biscuit, an egg-less bread of sorts that is hyper dense and flat. Like week old Irish soda bread.
It was the most widely used filler that went into these little guys because it was available.
Simply put, to me, bangers must have filler, or they simply aren’t bangers. Find this kind of sausage at a Trader Joe near you.
A note herein regarding the method and the beer…essentially, you will be poaching these sausages in beer. The beer will evaporate, and the sugars will caramelize.
Along with the juices from the sausage, you will be left with a thick and dark and wildly flavorful syrup coating the sausage. You want this.
And no, they are not burned, they’re exactly as they should be. The caveat? I specify Guinness beer for this recipe. And Guinness is needed ONLY for the gravy.
When it comes to the poaching liquid, I give you wiggle room. For best results, I use Guinness. Use what you drink and love because the poaching liquid becomes the flavor profile.
Before you get happy, just know that lite beer isn’t going to cut it. You will need an ale, a lager or a stout, anything that contains fermentation sugars so the science will work properly, but not lite beer.
Do I Have To Use Guinness In The Onion Gravy?
No. However, a stout, porter, or other dark beer is necessary to achieve the deep sweet malty flavor profile we are going for with the onion gravy.
No other beer with the exception of maybe a red ale (Irish red or Flanders red) can ‘level up’ the profile in the caramelization process.
What Are the Best Potatoes to Use for This Mash Recipe?
Russets. A large pot of salted water and large chunks of peeled russets are all you need for the beginnings of a good mash.
I mainly use russets no matter what the potato recipes specify unless it’s explained. Russets just stand up to anything and everything.
I use an old-fashioned potato masher to ‘mostly’ mash all of the potatoes. Heated buttermilk with a tablespoon of butter or three, and some salt and black pepper, and I’m there.
Basic. Simple. No fuss. Pub grub at its finest.
How To Make Bangers and Mash?
This dish is done via the stove top. Gather your ingredients, measure everything out, and have at the ready a large cast-iron skillet and a large pot of water seasoned with about a tablespoon of Kosher salt.
Add a drizzle of olive oil to the skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil begins to shimmer, add sausages and stout.
Reduce the heat slightly and cover with lid. Crack the lid just to allow enough steam to escape. Cook the sausages and stout covered for about 10 minutes, turning halfway through.
After they’ve cooked for 10 minutes, remove lid and allow the liquid to reduce a bit and coat the sausages. When the liquid is almost gone, lower heat to medium low and continue cooking with the lid on, rotating occasionally, until evenly browned and cooked through, about another 10 minutes.
How To make Guinness Stout Onion Gravy?
In a separate deep skillet, heat some butter over medium high heat. Slice heaps of yellow onions and add them to the butter, reducing the heat now to medium low.
Cook until lightly golden and very fragrant, about 20 minutes. Add the fresh thyme leaves and stir for a minute until the thyme becomes aromatic.
Sprinkle flour over top the onion mixture and allow to cook 2 to 3 minutes more. This step will ensure any and all raw flour taste is cooked out.
Slowly pour in some stout and scrape bottom of pan vigorously to deglaze and to loosen all of the flavorful brown bits. Add Worcestershire sauce and beef broth, stir onions, and allow to simmer until no longer foamy.
How To Make Buttermilk Mash?
In the prepared large pot of water, add potatoes and bring to a boil. Cook the potatoes until they become somewhat soft.
While the potatoes are cooking, melt some butter in a saucepan along with buttermilk, salt and pepper. You only need to heat the buttermilk enough to warm it.
When the potatoes are done, drain them well and add them back to the large pot. Place the pot back atop the still hot burner and shake the pan to encourage any heat that remains on the burner to further dry the potatoes out.
Combine the buttermilk mixture with the potatoes and use a handheld potato masher to mash and cream the potatoes. It’s okay if some bits are not mashed entirely as this lends authenticity.
Assemble heaps of potatoes in several wide shallow bowls. Ladle generously with the Guinness stout onion gravy and top with a couple or three bangers. Enjoy with a pint and wedges of warm Irish soda bread.
If You Like This Recipe…
…you may also like:
- Authentic Dublin Coddle
- Irish Custard with An Orchard Pear Crumble
- Mighty Irish Guinness Beer Cake Recipe
- Robust Irish Beef and Stout Stew
Bangers & Mash with Guinness Gravy
- large cast iron skillet
- wooden spoon
- potato masher
for the bangers
- 1 pound pork sausages highest quality
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 6 ounces Guinness stout
for the stout onion gravy
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 large yellow onions thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons thyme leaves fresh
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup Guinness stout
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 cup beef broth may substitute chicken broth
- 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
for the buttermilk mash
- 4 large russet potatoes peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
- 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
- 1/2 cup buttermilk warmed
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
make the bangers
- To a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, add the olive oil. When the oil begins to shimmer, carefully add the sausages and slowly pour on the stout. Reduce the heat slightly and cover with lid. Crack the lid just to allow enough steam to escape. Cook the sausages and stout covered for about 10 minutes, turning halfway through.
- After the sausages have cooked for 10 minutes, remove lid and allow the liquid to reduce a bit and coat the sausages. When the liquid is almost gone, lower heat to low and continue cooking with the lid on, rotating occasionally, until evenly browned and cooked through, about another 10 minutes. Sausages will begin to glaze and become dark and shiny.
assemble the stout onion gravy
- In a separate deep skillet, heat butter over medium high heat. Add the sliced yellow onions and reduce the heat to medium low. Cook until lightly golden and very fragrant, about 20 minutes. Add the fresh thyme leaves and stir for a minute until the thyme becomes aromatic.
- Sprinkle flour over top the onion mixture and allow to cook 2 to 3 minutes more. Slowly pour in stout and scrape bottom of pan to deglaze and loosen brown bits. Add Worcestershire sauce and beef broth, stir, and allow to simmer until no longer foamy, about 15 minutes. Stout onion gravy will thicken upon standing.
for the buttermilk mash
- Fill a large pot with water and 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt. Add prepared potatoes and bring to a boil. Cook potatoes until they become somewhat soft.
- While potatoes cook, melt butter in a saucepan along with buttermilk, salt and pepper. You only need to heat the buttermilk enough to warm it.
- When the potatoes are done, drain well and add back to the pot. Place the pot back atop the still hot burner and shake the pan to encourage any heat that remains on the burner to further dry the potatoes out.
- Combine the buttermilk with the potatoes and use a handheld potato masher to mash and cream the potatoes.
- Assemble a heap of potatoes in several wide shallow bowls. Ladle generously with the Guinness stout onion gravy and top with a couple or three bangers. Enjoy with a pint and wedges of warm Irish soda bread.
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