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This is a recipe from Nigel Slater, master of slow-cooked richness. It was in the Sunday papers over Christmas and when it occurred to me that I had never beer-braised sausages, it was time to try - and one to share with those of you that may have missed it. It’s one of those dishes that just takes a little preparation, but once it’s in the oven it sits there happily whilst you finish off the beer. As usual, the results depend on the quality of the sausages that you buy so choose wisely (and locally, if possible)! And of course, who can resist dumplings on top to mop up all that beery gravy?

1. Heat your oven to 175c
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.