The Beer Lover's Table: Sausage Casserole with Wild Garlic Butter and Lager Sauce and The Kernel Dark Mild

Every spring, my cooking is governed by a single objective: find as many ways to use wild garlic as possible. There are the staples I make every year – wild garlic pesto in vast quantities, irresistible cheddar and wild garlic American-style biscuits – and the yearly experiments and novelties (quesadillas and pierogi, soup and fried artichokes). Now added to the pantheon is this year’s latest entry: a humble sausage casserole, made memorable with a generous quantity of wild garlic butter.

In search of a low-effort and high-reward Easter main a few weeks back, I landed on this dish: Here, delightfully herbal and peppery Lincolnshire sausages (though you could use any sausage you fancy here, including vegan alternatives) mix with waxy new potatoes, onions and bell peppers, and a good handful of fresh oregano. Together, they’re simmered in lager (I’d recommend a Helles – you need a lager with some good malt sweetness and light levels of bitterness) before being dressed with wild garlic compound butter, which melts together with the beer to form a pan sauce.

The result is crowd-pleasing, comforting and an ideal fit for these still-cool early spring nights. And it’s even more exceptional when paired with The Kernel’s Dark Mild, which also nails that humble-but-memorable balance. This is a thing of beauty, deep brown and crowned with a meringue-like head of foam. Easy-drinking at just 3.8% ABV, but darkly aromatic and malt-led, this take on the style recreates mid-century Milds and is made with all-English hops. Its roasty notes pick up the burnished sausages and cooked-down onions, and it’s complex enough to stand up to the garlic.

Whether you’re after a meal fit for a holiday get-together, then – or just a quiet evening in – this pairing provides warming comfort, plus the opportunity to make the most of that glorious wild garlic before its all-too-brief season comes to an end.

Sausage Casserole with Wild Garlic Butter and Lager Sauce
Loosely adapted from Swaledale
Serves 4-6

100g salted butter, softened at room temperature
15g wild garlic leaves, rinsed of any dirt, roughly chopped
Fine sea salt, to taste
750g new potatoes (I used Anya potatoes), scrubbed
1 tablespoon olive oil
10 Lincolnshire sausages (or vegan alternative)
2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
3 red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded and sliced
Large handful fresh oregano leaves (stemmed), finely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Crushed chillis, to taste
300ml lager (avoid any beer that is too hoppy or bitter – I prefer to use a Helles style, such as Braybrooke's)

1. First, make the wild garlic compound butter. In a food processor, add the butter and blend on high until whipped. Add the wild garlic and blend until the leaves are very finely chopped and mixed into the butter. Taste and add any salt if needed. Set aside.

2. Next, cook the potatoes. Bring a medium saucepan of water to the boil and salt well before adding the potatoes. Cook for approximately 15-20 minutes, or until they are fork-tender but not falling apart. Drain and set aside.

3. Cook the sausages. Place a large frying pan over medium heat and add the olive oil; once hot, add the sausages. Cook for approximately 15 minutes, using tongs to turn frequently, or until golden-brown on all sides and cooked through (turn the heat down slightly if the sausages are getting too dark). Remove from the pan and set aside.

4. Without cleaning out the frying pan, add the onions and bell peppers, as well as half of the reserved garlic butter, and turn the heat down to medium-low. Once the butter melts, fry the vegetables for 4-5 minutes, or until they are softened and the onions have gone translucent. Season with the chopped oregano, black pepper and crushed chillis before transferring the reserved sausages and potatoes to the pan. Mix well to combine.

5. Add the lager to the pan and cook, stirring frequently, for 5-7 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add the rest of the wild garlic butter to the pan and mix through until it has melted and formed a pan sauce with what remains of the beer. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if needed, before dividing between plates and serving.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beer hound and all-around lover of tasty things. You can follow her at @clairembullen. For more recipes like this, sign up to our HB&B All Killer No Filler beer subscription - you'll receive Claire's recipe and food pairings, plus expert tasting notes, with 10 world-class beers like this one every month.