Last Christmas, my brother gave me the Jamie Oliver ’30 Minute Meals’ recipe book, and I think it’s brilliant. I have to admit that I’ve never timed myself, and so I’m not sure if, as many people angrily claimed that they did not, the recipes do only take thirty minutes exactly, but I definitely can say that isn’t a book packed full of long slaving-away-in-the-kitchen dishes. Everything I have made has been relatively speedy, and always delicious. In fact, I don’t think I’ve made something from it that has gone even a tiny bit wrong!
So, wanting to use the last of the tomato sauce from Wednesday, last night I made the “Kinda Sausage Cassoulet” from said book. I did some research online, and you may be interested to note that this recipe apparently can be made in 30 minutes! So all is timely thus far.
Even though I didn’t have bacon, or a crispy breadcrumb topping, my sausage cassoulet did not compromise on taste nor texture! The onions and leeks are slowly cooked in rosemary and sage, allowing them to soak up the flavours of these herbs early on. Because I didn’t have a breadcrumb topping, I added my garlic cloves to these early stages of the cooking process, and thus the garlic was able to infuse with these herbs. These flavours are held onto by Jamie’s instruction to add a little boiling water – this collects the herby, and in my case garlicky, flavours and makes a foundation for the later sauce; the water absorbs the flavours, and as it is heated it thickens, producing a sort of jus. When the tomatoes are later introduced, the two sauces combine, and this ensures that the taste of the herbs are not lost by the addition of the tomatoes and other later flavours.
The beans are soft to bite, and add a different texture from the crispness of the sausages. The sausages cooked under the grill adds speed to their completion, as well as adding crispness in texture. Furthermore, because they are cooked separately, it means that when they are added to the vegetable and bean dish for the final stages of cooking, they maintain their own rich, meaty flavour. This means that when a forkful of cassoulet is assembled, several different textures and flavours are combined – the flavour of the sausage juxtaposed with the combined flavours of the vegetables which have simmered throughout, plus the softness in bite of the butter beans. Mmm!
- 4 rashers of smoked streaky bacon, chopped into 1cm thick strands – I didn’t include this because I forgot, but I imagine it gives the dish a good smoky flavour that is complimentary to the sausages
- 1 red onion, finely sliced
- 2 leeks, finely sliced
- 680g jar of passata – I used the rest of the homemade tomato sauce, but tinned tomatoes would also suffice.
- Tin of butter beans
- Tin of haricot beans
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- Fresh rosemary – a sprinkling of the dry herb worked for me!
- Fresh sage – a sprinkling of the dry herb worked for me!
- Fresh bay leaves – again, I used two dried bay leaves and then removed them before serving
- 3-4 thick slices of bread (for the breadcrumb topping)
- Place a roasting tin over a high heat, and fry the bacon strips in olive oil. Add the bay leaves, rosemary and sage to the tray, and coat the bacon in the herbs. Add the onions and leeks to the tray along with a few splashes of boiling water, and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to medium, and leave the vegetables to soften.
- Turn the grill onto high. Place the sausages in a separate roasting tin with olive oil, and grill for around 8 minutes until they are browned on one side.
- FOR THE BREADCRUMB TOPPING: tear the slices of bread into chunks and food process, along with salt and pepper, sage, the garlic and olive oil, until you have coarse breadcrumbs.
- Because I didn’t have a breadcrumb topping, I crushed the garlic into the tray with the vegetables at this point.
- Add the passata, or the tomato sauce/tinned tomatoes, to the vegetables. Stir in the beans – the recipe advocates along with the water in the tin, but I didn’t do this because I didn’t want a watery sauce. My sauce was the right consistency without the tinned water! I’d advise to stir in the tomato component, then assess the sauce consistency – only grilled for a further few minutes, it doesn’t reduce as a normal sauce would – and then decide whether to drain the beans or not.
- Take the sausages out of the grill. Sprinkle half the breadcrumbs over the vegetables and beans. Then, lay the sausages dark-side-down in the tray and sprinkle over the remaining breadcrumbs. Drizzle with olive oil, and return to the grill for about 4 minutes (I put mine in for 8, because I like my sausages quite brown!) until the breadcrumbs are crisp and golden.
- Serve with broccoli, cooked gently for a couple of minutes in boiling water until tender.