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.
This is very rich and hefty, so a green salad is all it needs to go with it.
The Delia Online Cookery School: Watch how to prepare garlic in our video. Just click the image to play.
This recipe is from The Delia Collection: Pork. Serves 4-6
Ideally, you need to start the cassoulet the night before you want to make it by rinsing the dried cannellini beans in a sieve under cold water, then placing them in a bowl with 3 pints (1.75 litres) of cold water to soak overnight.
If you are short of time, put the beans in a saucepan, cover with plenty of cold water, bring them to the boil and give them about 10 minutes cooking before turning the heat off and leaving them to soak for 2 hours. Either way, after soaking, 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 casserole, 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, then transfer the onion and garlic to another plate. Next put a third of the beans into the casserole 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, pancetta 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) of boiling 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.
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)
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