Moonshine Mash first appeared in Cooking On A Bootstrap, a bootleg riff on polenta made with potatoes and corn. I so named it because ‘hooch’, or moonshine, is typically made from potatoes or corn, and the idea of my own sneaky irreverent take on something usually considered quite special rather tickled me. This version takes the idea even further into the depths of culinary depravity, firstly by blending canned corn with its brine, with milk, to create a ‘corn milk’ – not dissimilar to the ‘carrot milk’ theory in the carrot cake oats in Tin Can Cook that equally delighted and horrified viewers of Daily Kitchen Live when I demonstrated it in lockdown. I then add instant mash, and the cheapest available variety, to this corn milk abomination, and you know what? It works really well. My son, who can be a frustratingly fussy eater at times, absolutely loved it. The corn gives an underlying sweetness, the skins that get stuck in our teeth are blitzed away to a much more manageable nothing, and the additional flavour bolsters and enhances the usually plain and laggy texture of instant mash to something genuinely luxurious tasting. I opted not to add fat to mine, simply because I only have lard in the house at the moment and I just didn’t fancy it, but you could enrich it with butter or a splash of good oil, if you liked.
Serves 2, from 58p each.
4 sausages, 20p (£1/20 frozen, Smartprice at Asda – defrost overnight before using)
200ml milk, 10p (48p/l, Asda)
100ml stock or water
120g canned sweetcorn (drained weight), 17p (35p/can, Smartprice at Asda)
1 tbsp lard, 1p (39p/250g, Smartprice at Asda)
80g broccoli stalk, 11p (50p/360g, Asda)
140g carrot, 14p (30p/500g, Growers Selection at Asda)
100g onion, 8p (80p/1kg, Growers Selection at Asda)
50g cooking bacon, 8p (75p/500g, Asda)
20g instant gravy granules, 3p (25p/200g, Smartprice at Asda)
1 cup of boiling water
48g dried instant mash, 12p (28p/120g, Smartprice at Asda)
8g hard strong dried cheese, 11p (£1.12, Asda)
First preheat your oven to 190C, and pop your sausages in a roasting tin. Place them on the middle shelf, and cook for 40 minutes. They release a good amount of fat, so it’s not necessary to add any more to the roasting tin as it’s – for want of a better term – gratuitously self-lubricating.
Measure the milk into a blender – I use a small bullet blender – and add the water and a stock cube, or just the water. Add the sweetcorn – this may sound incredibly slovenly but I don’t bother to drain it these days, a little brine isn’t going to do any harm here. Blend thoroughly to a smooth, buttersoft yellow liquid. Pour it into a saucepan, and leave it there for a moment.
Transfer your attentions to your vegetables. To make these this tiny mirepoix-style small and delicate pieces, I firstly sliced the broccoli stalk, carrot and onion on a mandolin slicer, then used my handheld veg dicer to make them pleasingly dinky and even. I appreciate that that’s a bit of work – although once adept at both of these gadgets it can be considerably faster than chopping them – so you can just dice them finely with a large, heavy sharp knife if you prefer.
Warm a little lard or oil in a griddle pan or nonstick frying pan, and add the veg. Reduce to a medium heat, and cook for around 10 minutes, seasoning sparingly with salt but generously with pepper. Add the bacon and continue for another 20 minutes, until the veg is soft and the bacon to your liking. Remove from the heat and set to one side.
Pop the kettle on to boil for the gravy, and measure the granules into a mug. Pour the boiling water over and stir well until the gravy thickens, and set to one side.
Now return to your corn-milk pan. Warm it through on a medium heat until it starts to simmer, but be careful not to let it boil as milk can be very temperamental when hot! Add the instant mash and cheese and stir briskly and continuously until it forms a smooth mash. It may be slightly loose at this point, but it will firm up as it cools slightly.
Serve the mash in the middle of the bowl, top with the veg-bacon mix, add a pair of sausages, and cover the lot generously with gravy. Serve piping hot, and enjoy!