Cassoulet is an elaborate, rich, hearty french dish traditionally consisting of
(amongst a dizzying array of other ingredients) pork belly, duck legs, Toulouse sausages and lamb all cooked in a generous amount of goose fat and beans. Not a dish for the faint-hearted, I suspect. I say “suspect” as I have never actually had real cassoulet before. I’d like to and I will do some day when in France and really, really, really hungry.
Until then, I’m more than happy to stick with the following much simplified version of the dish. Based on the lovely (and much missed) Amanda‘s recipe, this cassoulet-inspired casserole is an absolute cracker. It’s perfect for winter but I strongly suspect it’ll be appearing on our table well into the spring and summer months.
(serves 4 with crusty bread)
1 tblspn olive oil
1 large onion, sliced
4 rashers of bacon
4 cloves of garlic, halved length-ways
400g tin chickpeas
400g tin butterbeans
1/4 bottle white wine
400ml beef stock OR 200ml beef stock and 1 tin of tomatoes
2 bay leaves
8 butchers’ pork sausages
juice of 1 lemon
1 cup breadcrumbs
Handful fresh parsley, chopped
- Heat the oil over a medium heat in a large casserole (if you don’t have a cooker & oven safe dish do the first part in a normal pan then transfer to an oven dish later). Add the onions and cook until golden (about 20 minutes).
- Use a slotted spoon to remove the onions to another dish then add the chopped bacon to the pan. Increase the heat and fry until crisped up.
- Add the onions back to the pan along with the halved garlic, beans, wine, stock, tomatoes (if using) bay leaves and a little black pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, brown the sausages in a little olive oil in a non-stick frying pan over a medium high heat.
- Squeeze the lemon juice into the beans and season to taste.
- Carefully place the sausaged on top of the beans and push down slightly so they are only half submerged in the mixture. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs.
- Cook uncovered in a 175oC oven for an hour.
- Remove from oven and sprinkle with parsley.
- Serve with lots of crusty bread and some greens.