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Poor Man's Cassoulet

This is a modern version of an original recipe that appeared in my book Frugal Food and I suppose whilst it lacks sophisticated ingredients like preserved goose it's still very much on the theme of the original.

 Poor Man's Cassoulet

  Serves 4-5

 10 fat, quality sausages with high meat content
 12 oz (350 g) dried cannellini beans
 1 dessertspoon olive oil
 2 x 130 g packs cubetti di pancetta (or you can use diced bacon)
 3 medium onions, peeled and thinly sliced
 3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
 1 level tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, plus a few sprigs
 2 bay leaves
 2 level tablespoons tomato purée
 4 oz (110 g) fresh white breadcrumbs
 salt and freshly milled black pepper
 Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 1, 275°F, 140°C. (For important information about gas mark 1, see note at end of method)
Oven temperatures and Conversions
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You will also need a 6 pint (3.5 litre) capacity flameproof casserole.

This recipe is taken from Delia Smith's Frugal Food and The Delia Collection: Pork


First soak the beans. All you do is place them in a saucepan, cover with plenty of cold water, bring to the boil and let them boil for 10 minutes.

Then turn off the heat and let them soak for 2-3 hours and after that drain the beans in a colander.

Then in the flameproof casserole, heat the oil over a medium heat and brown the sausages, turning them occasionally because they need to be a nice golden brown colour on all sides – this will take 7-8 minutes.

After that remove them to a plate, then add the pancetta to the frying pan, cook, turning the heat up and tossing it around for 5 minutes, until it's golden at the edges.

Now using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to join the sausages.

Turn the heat down to medium, then in the juices left in the pan, soften the onions for 10 minutes, stirring from time to time.

After that, toss in the garlic and cook for another minute. Next put a third of the beans into the cooking pot followed by half the onions, sprinkle with a third of the fresh thyme leaves and season well with salt and pepper, then add half the sausages and pancetta, followed by a third more beans, thyme and seasoning, then the remaining sausages and onions and finally the rest of the beans and the remaining thyme, pushing sprigs of thyme and bay leaves in amongst everything.

Now measure 1½ pints (850 ml) hot water, whisk in the tomato purée and pour this over the beans, cover with a lid and bake on the oven's centre shelf for 2 hours.

Then take the lid off, sprinkle the breadcrumbs all over the top and bake (without a lid) for a further hour until the beans are completely cooked through.

This is very rich and hefty, so a green salad is really all it needs to go with it.

Cooking at Gas Mark 1


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