Rougail saucisse is a hearty tomato and chili pepper-based dish that’s full of flavours. The traditional dish of Reunion island is a well-balanced, aromatic sausage casserole that’s usually served with rice and kidney beans.
My first Rougail Saucisse
The first time I had rougail saucisse was over 15 years ago as I was moving into my first flat near Paris. I fell in love with the dish straight away, with its rich tomato sauce that combined fragrant saffron and a nice kick from the chilli pepper.
Meat, rice, vegetables and pulses, cooked in a flavoursome sauce. What’s not to love? I had never tasted anything like it but I have since then travelled a fair bit. Rougail saucisse reminds me a bit of some of the stews I had in Rwanda (Africa).
The friend who cooked it for me served the sausage casserole with a strong Saint Émilion red wine. I didn’t like red wine then and had never fully appreciated how wine could enhance the flavours of a dish. It was a revelation! It made the rougail even better!
Rougail saucisse: the traditional dish in Reunion Island
Rougail is a traditional dish from Reunion Island and the recipe as I share it is the one I have been using for all these years. It might not be the exact same thing as what they serve in Saint-Denis, but it is my version of it and I absolutely love it. Rougail saucisse is rich in spices yet quite mild. To me, it’s the perfect meal to share with family and friends.
Although Reunion Island is in the Indian Ocean, much closer to Madagascar than it is to Paris, it is an overseas department of France and it is part of the Eurozone.
“Located in the Mascarene Islands, Reunion Island is a French overseas department that offers travellers a complete change of scenery, transporting them to this tropical island in the Indian Ocean. A crossroads of African, Asian and European civilisation, Reunion Island is a true melting pot of cultures.” La Réunion website
Tips for picking your ingredients when making the sausage casserole
Rougail saucisse is gluten and wheat-free provided you use ‘free from’ sausages. You can also use dairy-free spread instead of butter to make the dish dairy-free. You can also substitute the traditional pork sausages for chicken ones.
If you were to make rougail saucisse in Reunion Island, you’d definitely use Creole sausages. To be fair, as long as you go for high-quality, lean sausages, you’ll get a great result. I always use chipolatas personally, or plain sausages.
Perfect rice & batch cooking
To get perfect rice every time, just follow my simple instructions below. When I use the word ‘cup’ in the recipe, I mean any mug you have at home. Just stick to the ratio of two cups of water to one of rice.
I always double the recipe as the sausage casserole itself freezes really well. On a lazy night, all you have to do is defrost your rougail saucisse, reheat in the oven with red kidney beans and cook rice to go with it.
Tasty Sausage Casserole recipe from the Reunion Island
- 1 large onion finely chopped
- 1 heaped tablespoon butter
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- ½ gram saffron
- 1 hot red chilli pepper seeds removed and finely chopped
- 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon mixed herbs
- 6 good-quality sausages
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup basmati rice 2 cups water
- 1 tin red kidney beans drained
- 4 tablespoons tomato concentrate
- 2 tomatoes diced
The rougail paste will be more fragrant if made the day before. Using a pestle and mortar, pound the onion, butter, garlic, saffron and chilli pepper for about 15 minutes. The mixture should be really fragrant and resemble a paste. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
- In a large pan, simmer the chopped tomatoes with the sugar, mixed herbs, salt and pepper for about an hour.
- In the meantime, cook the sausages in boiling water for 10 minutes. Rinse the sausages, take their skin off and slice them (about 1 cm thick).
- Pound the paste for another 10 minutes.
- Add the sliced sausages and the paste to the tomato sauce. Stir and cover. Simmer until the rice is cooked.
- In a pan, warm the kidney beans mixed with the tomato concentrate and diced tomatoes.
- Place the rice and cold water in a pan, with a generous pinch of salt. Bring to boiling point on a high heat, then reduce the heat to minimum, cover the pan and leave it to cook, untouched, for twelve minutes. Once cooked, fluff the rice with a fork. It should be cooked to perfection.
- Serve with a glass of Bordeaux red wine.
You can make it gluten and wheat-free by using ‘free from’ sausages. You can also replace the butter with dairy-free spread.
The casserole freezes really well. Just place in the fridge to defrost the night before, reheat in the oven with red kidney beans and cook rice to go with it.
Here is a visual summary: