Sausages braised in tomato and fennel seed sauce with lemon roasted potatoes

LAST YEAR, I picked up a copy of the River Cafe cookbook at a charity shop for a mere £3, completely unaware just how it would influence my cooking style at home. This recipe lends to my Phil-osophy (see what I did there?) that fewer good ingredients, treated respectfully produce the most satisfying plates of food.

Now, while I appreciate that you have heard me and a thousand celebrity chefs tell you to "Visit your local butcher" a million times, but if you haven't yet, or indeed don't believe it will make that much of a difference, I BEG you to try it with just this one recipe.

I love going into my butchers and trying the different variety of sausages they have on offer.  So how do you tell the difference between a butcher's sausage and a supermarkets? Well, when you cook a supermarket banger, it will start to spit because of the excess water content, while a better quality product with just happily cook away.  You will also notice a tighter texture, meatier flavour and less grease with a well-made sausage.

Tinned tomatoes are a most essential store cupboard ingredient, and it's worth spending an extra few pence on a higher quality variety.  They can be used in so many ways, ranging from curries to breakfasts, to soups and sauces. Rustic cooking at it's finest. 

Ingredients (Serves 2)

6 pork sausages from your butcher
Tin of tomatoes, as best you can afford
3 cloves of garlic
1 red pepper, sliced
1 red onion, finely sliced
1 tbsp organic tomato puree
1 tsp freshly ground fennel seeds
Small glass of red wine (and another for drinking)
Few sprigs of fresh thyme 
8x Rooster potatoes, skin on, cut in half
300 mls chicken stock
Good dash of soy sauce
Drizzle of Tabasco
Fresh parsley
2 lemons, zested and halved
Good quality sea salt 
Ground pepper
Rapeseed oil


1) Place potatoes in boiling water for around 5 mins or until a knife goes through them with slight resistance. Heat oven to 200C and drizzle a good amount of oil onto a baking tray. 

2) Meanwhile, place a frying pan on a medium heat, lightly brown the sausages all over and set aside. Add the peppers to the same pan.  Cook until they begin to soften, add the red onions and sweat for 4-5 mins, add the garlic.  By this point, the potatoes should be tender, so drain them into a colander and allow them to cool.

3) Add the tomato puree to the pepper mix and cook a minute.  Pour in the red wine and allow to reduce by half, then add the tomatoes, ground fennel seeds, thyme, soy sauce, Tabasco.  Place the sausages into the mix, and top up with chicken stock until sausages are half covered.  Reduce heat to a gentle simmer.

4) Toss potatoes in the oil, sprinkle over the lemon zest and place lemon halves on the tray.  Season and place in the oven for around 40 mins. 

5) Turn the sausages every ten mins or so and add more stock as required.  Finely chop the parsley.

6) After around 40 mins, place the sausages into a warmed bowl and add a few potatoes and some parsley and serve,