Sausage casserole with homemade Irish soda bread

This rich sausage casserole partners wonderfully with homemade Irish soda bread and lots of red wine. It is perhaps a little time consuming to make on a weeknight, but that doesn’t stop me. The soda bread can be cooked alongside the casserole so that everything is ready together. The effort is in the preparation with this recipe so find yourself a few good tracks on the iPod and get cracking!

Soda bread is so easy to make, with only four ingredients; it’s rustic and delicious, making it the perfect accompaniment to your sausage casserole. Unlike other breads, the raising agent is bicarbonate of soda; no yeast is needed.
And, in case you’re interested, Irish folk law has it that you should cut a cross in the top of the bread before baking to let the devils (or fairies) out, but I happen to think it is done to help the bread rise. 
For the sausage casserole                                               
2 tbsp olive oil
6 sausages
2 large shallots sliced
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
2 red peppers roughly chopped
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 can baked beans
1 can butter beans
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp fresh rosemary finely chopped
1 tbsp dried thyme
1 tbsp smoked paprika
300ml chicken stock
100ml red wine
Salt and pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC.
  2. Heat the oil and fry the sausages for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown, transfer to a casserole dish.
  3. Fry the shallots in a pan until golden brown, stirring continuously, add the garlic for the last 3 minutes.
  4. Stir through the smoked paprika for 1 minute. Add the chopped tomatoes, chicken stock, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, herbs and red peppers.
  5. Pour over the wine and bring to a simmer.
  6. Tip into the casserole dish with the sausages, cover and place in the oven on 200ºC for 30 minutes.
  7. Stir in the beans and allow to cook for a further 10 minutes, until the casserole has thickened.
  8. Season to taste and serve with homemade crusty Irish soda bread (recipe below).
Serves:                           2
Preparation time:         10 minutes
Cooking time:               40 minutes

For the Irish soda bread                              
450g plain flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
400ml buttermilk
  1. Preheat the oven to 220ºC.
  2. Sift the flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda into a mixing bowl.
  3. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in most of the buttermilk.
  4. Mix together with your hands. The dough should be very soft but not too wet. If necessary, add the remaining buttermilk.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it lightly. Shape into a 15cm round.
  6. Place the dough on a greased baking tray, cut a cross in the top and place in the centre of the oven for 30 minutes. When the bread is done it will sound hollow if tapped on the bottom.
Preparation time:             5 minutes
Cooking time:                  30 minutes


Boiled Bacon in Ginger Ale (smoked gammon joint)

This is the perfect lazy Sunday lunch. Given that my boyfriend and I are both from Irish descent; it’s no surprise that we love this recipe. It’s my take on boiled bacon, cabbage and spuds, I replace the cabbage for carrots and cook the gammon slowly in ginger ale for at least an hour. The carrots soak up the sweet flavour of the ginger ale; it really is so simple, yet incredibly delicious. 

750g smoked gammon joint
2 litres of dry ginger ale or ginger beer
6 large carrots
2 large onions
15 cloves
10 black peppercorns
2lbs / 900g Mozart potatoes (the red skinned ones)
A splash of milk or single cream and a knob of butter
Pinch of salt and pepper


  1. Make 15 small incisions in the gammon joint and pop the cloves into the holes. Place the gammon into a large pot (about twice the depth of the joint). Add the peppercorns and cover with ginger ale. The liquid should cover all of the meat; if the meat isn’t covered just top it up with cold water, even if you use equal parts ginger ale and water that is fine.
  2. Peel the carrots and chop in half. If you are using smaller carrots keep them whole, they cook for long enough so don’t need to be too small. Cut the onions into quarters and add them to the pot with the carrots slotting them in around the gammon.
  3. Set the pot on a medium heat and cover, cook this for 1 hour at least. I find 1 hour 15 minutes is perfect, but the smell of it cooking makes you impatient, trust me!
  4. Meanwhile peel the potatoes and chop into 2.5cm (1 inch) cubes, run them under cold water to rid of the surface starch. When the gammon has 20 minutes to go, heat a large pan of water and boil the potatoes until tender, not until they fall apart in the water.
  5. Drain the potatoes, adding the milk or cream and butter; mash quickly until smooth. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Easy on the salt, the gammon will be salty enough.
  6. Remove the gammon joint form the ginger ale, don’t tip the ale away! Remove the cloves and serve the gammon sliced with the carrot and onion and a generous dollop of mashed potato. Spoon on the ginger ale as gravy.


Gammon joints can be very salty which is why this recipe doesn’t call for any extra salt to be added. Ideally, soak the gammon in a large pot of cold water over night, drain before cooking.

I use Mozart potatoes from Waitrose (the red skinned ones) they make perfect mashed potatoes every time.

If the thought of cooking your gammon in ginger ale doesn’t make you run to the supermarket don’t panic! Gammon can be boiled in many things, dry cinder, apple or orange juice, fanta or the Nigella Lawson way of boiling it in Coca Cola. Yes Really!