Cumberland sausages with onion gravy


  • 8 cumberland sausages (make sure they’re gluten-free if you need them to be)
  • Rapeseed oil for drizzling
  • 2 small onions
  • Mashed potatoes to serve (optional)

For the gravy

  • 3 large onions, finely sliced
  • 1 large red onion, finely sliced
  • 1 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • ½ bunch thyme, leaves picked and a few sprigs reserved to garnish
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp pink peppercorns lightly crushed
  • 500ml beef stock
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp redcurrant jelly or blackcurrant jam


  1. To make the gravy, put a large pan over a medium heat, then add the butter and oil. Once the butter has melted, add all the sliced onions with a big pinch of salt. Stir until the onions are all coated in the fat and are gently sizzling, then add 1 tbsp water, cover and turn the heat down to low. Cook gently for 20 minutes, stirring every now and then.
  2. Remove the lid, add the sugar and vinegar, then turn up the heat slightly and cook for 20 minutes more, stirring more often. The onions catching on the bottom a little is fine, but you don’t want to burn them – add a splash of water if you need to.
  3. Add the thyme leaves, bay leaves and pink peppercorns, stir briefly to combine, then pour in the beef and chicken stock. Make sure you scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan, as this really does make all the difference. Bring to the boil, then turn down to a simmer and leave for at least 45 minutes to gently reduce right down into an intense gravy – you want to reduce the amount of liquid by half (see Know How)
  4. To cook the sausages, heat the oven to 160°C fan/gas 4. Put the sausages in a baking dish, ensuring they’re not too crowded, and drizzle with a little oil. Toss to ensure they’re coated, then put in the oven for 30 minutes, turning them over halfway through.
  5. Put a large pan over a medium-high heat and add a drizzle of oil. Halve the 2 small onions (with the peel on) then put them cut-side down in the pan. Cover and cook for 8 minutes until the cut side has charred and the insides have softened, then turn off the heat and leave them to steam in the pan for another 5 minutes (don’t remove the lid)
  6. Slip the peel off the onions, cut 1 of them into wedges and carefully lower them into the gravy to lightly glaze and warm through while the sausages finish cooking. Add the jelly/jam and taste for seasoning. Serve the sausages with plenty of the onions and gravy (you can strain the gravy if you like, but leaving in a few of the sticky onions tastes great too) with mashed potatoes on the side, if you like.

delicious. tips

  1. You can make the onion gravy up to 3 days ahead – just keep it covered in the fridge (or freeze in a freezer bag, then defrost). Reheat gently.
  2. Reducing stock to a thick gravy or sauce takes time – but it’s so much more flavourful than using a thickener such as flour. Reducing the stock even further so it’s intense and almost syrupy creates what’s known as a demi-glace. This can be kept in the freezer like a frozen liquid stock cube, then diluted with water to the desired consistency.

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