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Budget-Friendly Sausage and Aubergine Stew

When I served this budget-friendly sausage and aubergine stew to my partner, she said that it made her feel like a coal miner hunching over a simple stew served from a communal pot. That's how rustic this recipe is. Not only is it easy on the wallet, but it's a great recipe to clear your fridge or pantry out of any spare vegetables or grains that are still loitering about. It's very forgiving.

A bowl of sausage and aubergine stew served with bulgar wheat and parsley.

What you'll need from the shops:

  • Aubergine (can substitute for fennel, carrot, celery, or any other veggies you've got lying around)

  • Pork bangers

  • Two or three tins of tinned tomato

  • Tin of white beans

  • Garlic

  • Salt

  • Smoked paprika

  • Parsley for garnishing

  • Grain of choice; I used bulgar wheat here, but I strongly recommend getting a loaf of ciabatta or similar

A grocery haul of pork bangers, a whole aubergine, tinned tomato, and a garlic bulb.

Long-time readers of the blog and the magazine know that I am a raving fan of the mythically gorgeous Violetta di Firenze aubergine. I grabbed this one, possibly the last of the season, with a significant sense of triumph.

A Violetta di Firenze aubergine in all its glory.

Quick note: I prepared the aubergine the way I like it best, which entails a lot of labour-intensive shallow frying and adds a lot of oil to the recipe. If you'd prefer to skip the drama and keep the dish heart-healthy, simply omit the frying step and toss the aubergine straight into the stew to cook until tender.

How to make budget-friendly sausage and aubergine stew

Step One: Prep your kak

First things first, tackle your aubergine. How you cut up your aubergine is entirely up to the shape of your vegetable, but here's a rough guide to getting some relatively evenly shaped triangles ideal for shallow frying.

First, slice the aubergine in half lengthways.

An aubergine sliced in half and then sliced into thirds lengthways.

Next, turn each half white-side down and slice into three even thirds from top to bottom, as seen on the topmost aubergine pictured above.

Keeping the thirds of the aubergine half in the same position, now evenly slice across the thirds to produce three triangle-ish shapes at a time. Try not to make the triangle slices more than a centimeter thick, but don't have a baby about it if they're thicker.

At the end of the exercise, you should have a bow of aubergine triangle shapes that resemble this lot:

Sliced aubergine salting in a metal prep bowl.

While we're prepping here, be sure to mince a few cloves of garlic for seasoning the sauce.

Step Two: Salt the aubergine

Now, toss in a very generous pinch of salt and toss through. You're going to leave the aubergine to salt for at least 20 minutes while you scroll mindlessly through social media. You'll be able to tell the aubergine is ready for frying when a cup or so of dark liquid resembling vinegar or wine pools at the bottom of the bowl. The longer you let them drain, the saltier and crispier they will be for frying.

Now, prepare the counter with a dry, clean dish towel laid out on it. Take a handful of salted aubergine, squeeze the liquid out of it, and scatter them evenly on the towel. Repeat until the bowl is empty. Lay another clean dish towel over the aubergine and press dry.

Remember, if you'd rather not fry your aubergine, forget the next steps and simply toss the prepared aubergine into the tomato stew described in Step 6.

Step Three (Optional): Fry the aubergine

To fry the aubergine, fill a thick-bottomed pan with about two centimeters of vegetable oil and bring to temperature on medium heat. If you stick the handle of a wooden spoon in the oil and bubbles gather quickly, that's a good indication that it's ready. Otherwise, sacrifice an aubergine triangle to see if the temperature is ideal.

Sliced and salted aubergine frying in vegetable oil.

Once the oil is hot enough, tip in the rest of the salted and dried aubergine, flipping the pieces occasionally until they turn golden brown on each side. The browner they get, the crispier they will be.

Sliced aubergine that has been salted and shallow-fried until golden brown.

When they've reached a desirable level of golden-brown, remove from the oil, pat dry with kitchen roll to absorb the excess, and set them aside.

Shallow fried aubergine sitting in a metal prep bowl.

Step Four: Fry the sausages

If you fried your aubergines, drain the same pot of excess oil until you're left with just enough to fry the sausages. Bring the pot to temperature on medium heat and toss in your bangers.

Pork bangers cooking in a pot.

Fry them until brown and the pan is coated with fragrant pork fat. This is the flavour base for the tomato stew.

Step Six: Prepare the tomato sauce

Next, lower the heat to low-medium, toss in a knob of butter, and fry your minced garlic quickly. I would not add the paprika until the tomato comes in, as it tends to burn. Tip in your tinned tomatoes, crushing them lightly with a wooden spoon. When that's done, toss in a teaspoon or two of smoked paprika and a pinch of salt to taste. Remember the aubergines are salted, so don't go crazy.

Tomato sauce cooking in a pot.

Step Seven: Assemble the stew

While the tomato sauce is bubbling cheerfully on low heat, slice your sausages into medallions and toss them into the sauce. If you opted not to fry your aubergine, this should go in first and cook down with the bubbling sauce until the pieces are soft. When everything is cooked, toss in some drained white beans for additional protein and fibre.

A bowl of sasuage and aubergine stew served with bulgar wheat and a parsley garnish.

I used some spare bulgar wheat that was lingering in the pantry, but serving this stew with a parsley garnish and fresh white bread is my first choice. It's rich, comforting, nourishing, and budget-friendly. What's not to love?

Until next time,

The Life & Style team


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