2. In a pan, brown the sausages on all sides and then set aside.
3. In the meantime, chop a handful of Mushrooms and two Red Onions. Sweat these down in a little olive oil and a generous knob of butter, either in a pan or the casserole dish if it goes on the hob. If the mushrooms soak up the butter, add some more.
4. Sprinkle a little flour on the mushrooms and red onions, coat, and then add a tin of peeled plum tomatoes – not chopped. Stir and simmer, then add half a pint of beer. Stir and season with plenty of black pepper, a little sage and a little salt.
5. Pour this into your casserole pot, stick the sausages in, pop the lid on and place in the oven.
6. Make your dumplings according to packet instructions and then plop on top of the casserole for the final 30 minutes. For the last five, take the lid off and let them brown on top. I actually cheat and switch to ‘Grill’ mode at this point!
Ok – cooking times. Well, it’s up to you. The casserole will be ok as long as there is gravy in the pot, I would say one hour minimum; but you could probably double that – your sauce will get richer. Just try it out and see how long suits you.Beer-wise you need to be going for darker beers; I personally used London Porter brewed for M&S by Meantime (5.5%abv) on this occasion, but I’ve since had good results with Cain’s Dragon Heart. I think that the darker malts add sweetness and a decent alcoholic edge to proceedings; there’s no point using beer unless you want to retain the nuances of it in the finished dish.