Tag Archives: sausages

Sausage and Beans

A kind of elemental cassoulet, this is a good thing to cook when you’ve got a large hungry group to deal with. Maybe your church choir has been playing drinking games in the crypt. Who knows. To feed sixteen (not the sixteen) you’ll need the following quantities:

  • 3kg pork sausages (they need to be moderately fatty, some expensive sausages are commendably lean, but no good for this recipe)
  • 1kg onions
  • 1kg carrots
  • 1 large head of celery (800g or more)
  • 1kg tinned chopped tomatoes and their juices
  • 1kg tinned canellini beans (that’s four 450g tins’ worth)
  • one head of garlic (or as much as you dare)
  • a bunch of thyme
  • a few dried bay leaves

You can cook this in two stages:

  1. Start by putting the sausages into a large roasting tin (single layer is best) and into the oven at Gas 6. They’ll need around an hour – but check and turn them every fifteen minutes or so. We’re aiming for dark wrinkly skins and sticky fatty juices at the bottom of the tin. So maybe they’ll need longer.
  2. Meanwhile, chop up the carrots, onion and celery: no need to dice, just 1cm pieces. I don’t bother peeling the carrots, but just give them a good scrub to get any dirt off the outside. Peel the individual garlic cloves; no need to chop or crush.
  3. When the sausages are done, fish them out of the roasting tin, and leave them somewhere to cool. The tin should have a layer of fat in it, do not discard.
  4. Put the carrots into the tin, combine with the sausage fat, and return to the oven for half an hour. Carrots are tough little bastards, and they need a head start.
  5. Add the onions, celery, garlic and bay leaves, plus salt and pepper. Return to the oven for another half an hour. Check them regularly and turn every ten minutes or so, making sure they’re lightly coated with the sausage fat. Again, we’re aiming to get them properly cooked, and lightly caramelised, with a hint of brown about the edges. Onions have a slight tendency to burn, so feel free to reduce the temperature if they’re browning too fast.
  6. When they’re done, decant them, and if there’s a particularly good fond on the roasting tin, then deglaze it with a little hot water, reduce, and add that liquid to the veg.

At this point you can stop, and park the cooked sausage and veg into a large container. When you’re ready to continue:

  1. Into a large pot, pour in the tinned tomatoes, and about a litre of water, bring to the boil, and simmer for about half an hour. (This is just to get the tomatoes properly cooked, which makes them sweeter and less acidic.)
  2. Add all the other ingredients: roast sausages, roast veg, beans, herbs.
  3. Gently simmer, stirring from time to time, until everything is hot, and you’re ready to go.

A few things to note:

  • If you want to double the quantity of garlic, then go for it. Double it again if you need. Go on. You know you want to.
  • You can perform the second stage in the oven if you have a large enough roasting tin, or tins. Make sure that the meat and veg are poking above the liquid, and the heat from the oven will make them get sticky and crisp.
  • You could replace the sausage with an equal quantity of hacked up pork shoulder.
  • If you want to use dried beans, then you’ll need to soak and cook in advance.

 

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Cassoulet

Let’s forget about confit of duck, goose fat, and all the fancy stuff. Cassoulet is about fat and beans, so today’s is done with sausages and bacon. Annoyingly, the beans need to be the dried ones, so you will have to soak them. Tinned beans would turn to mush during the cooking. Delia makes a good point that if you’re using sausages, make sure the meat content is reasonably high, as bready sausages will also collapse.

I’m using the following (feeds four with seconds and leftovers):

  • six Toulouse sausages (about 400g)
  • 250g dried haricot beans
  • an onion, a couple of carrots, and a couple of sticks of celery; all chopped up (a similar weight to the sausages)
  • four cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
  • about 75g tasty bacon of some sort chopped into quarter inch cubes (a single vacuum pack of cubed pancetta ideal)
  • a 400g tin of chopped tomatoes, drained – if we leave the juice then it’s too tomatoey and starts to resemble high class baked beans
  • two bay leaves
  • about a teaspoon dried thyme (or half a bunch fresh)

The pot. Pick a large one that’s good for the oven and the stove top, as we’re visiting both locations.

The beans need to be soaked in a litre of cold water, overnight, after which they’ll double in mass. (St Delia mentions the idea of putting the beans in cold water in a saucepan, bringing to the boil, turning the heat off and leaving for three hours as a way to accelerate the process.)

Once that’s done, change the water, apply some heat and get them going at a vicious boil for 15 minutes. After that, reduce to a simmer, and pop them on them on the back burner, both literally and figuratively. (You’ll need the front of the stove later.)

Crank the oven up to 160ºC, putting the sausages and bacon into the pot and the pot into the oven. Keep an eye on them, turning the sausages occasionally so we get an all over tan. After about half an hour, the sausages will be done enough for our purposes, so transfer the pot to the hob, on a low heat. Also, at this point, the beans will have been simmering for about 30 minutes, leave ’em on the back burner, ready for action in a moment.

(But don’t turn off the oven.)

Remove the sausages from the pot, and set to one side. Tip the veg into the pot, and gently fry in the fat that will have been exuded by the pig. After about five minutes add the garlic, and fry until translucent; about two minutes. (Best way to do this is shove the veg to one side so there’s a small exposed bit of the bottom of the pan where the garlic can fry. A splash of olive oil to assist if required.)

Deglaze with a splash of wine (white or red, or failing that some hot water) and then add the beans plus enough of the cooking liquid to almost-but-not-quite cover everything. Think runny, rather than soupy. Herbs, salt, pepper.

Return the sausages on top. I’d slice the sausages into three or four pieces each. Return to the oven for another two hours, lowering the temperature to about 140ºC. Leave the pot uncovered so the top gradually darkens and becomes sticky. Pretty much impossible to overdo, but check the liquid levels every so often, and if necessary, top up from a freshly boiled jug.

Despite every town in the south of France claiming that it (and it alone) is the Home of Cassoulet, there’s no definitive recipe. You could…

  • sprinkle some breadcrumbs on top about 30 minutes before it’s done
  • double the quantity of sausage
  • do it with pork belly cut up into two inch cubes instead of the sausages – the pork belly will need much longer – at least an hour – and a splash of water in the bottom of the pot – you might even want to do the pork belly for three hours so it totally breaks down

The Major is threatening to feed us with his cassoulet, which is a far superior product, and will feature his very own confit of duck. (I shall report back.)


Venison Sausages

Grumpy? Maybe it’s because it’s cold, wet and miserable, or perhaps there’s just not enough sausage in your life. This is based on a similar idea where Saint Nigel roasts thinly sliced spuds, and then slips some mackerel fillets on just before the end. In this case, I’m using venison sausages, although any kind of sausage is good.

To prick or not to prick? Some people get very passionate about this: see Matthew Fort’s articles. Out of scientific curiosity, I pricked half of the sausages, but couldn’t tell once they were done.

I used:

  • 6 sausages + 500g charlottes, sliced about 5mm thick; no need to peel
  • salt+pepper
  • you could add thyme, garlic, sage, bay leaves etc – I popped two unpeeled gloves of garlic in

Now, I don’t know how fatty your sausages are, nor how thickly you sliced your spuds, so there is no foolproof procedure for what happens next – St Delia would doubtless be horrified. Start with 45 minutes at 160ºC (fan forced temp) and then take a look. The sausages will most likely be done, but the spuds will need a bit longer, pick one of the larger pieces and taste it to make sure. Pop the sausages to one side (on a plate covered with foil is a good start) and put the spuds back in, turning the oven up to 200ºC, and see how they’re looking after 15 minutes. Don’t despair if they take longer, just slip the sausages back on top for a few minutes to warm them up, if necessary.

The final phase is straightforward. Dole out the bangers and spuds, tip out any excess fat from the tin (not down the drain!) and add a splash of port plus a generous spoon of redcurrant jelly. Tonight I used 30mL of port and about a tablespoon of redcurrent jelly, but feel free to mess around with the proportions. The port will hiss and spit, and the jelly will sit there unhelpfully, so stir like mad. (Or you could melt the jelly into the port in another saucepan if you don’t mind the extra washing up.) The resulting sauce/gravy is just the right thing, although might need to be pushed through a coarse sieve to get any recalcitrant lumps of jelly and spud out. (Munch them when nobody’s watching.)

Bangers and Mash (Again)

Christmas Dinner pretty much happened as expected: foie gras, smoked duck, roast goose, and a pudding made with Guinness. Consequently, the last couple of days have been spent on a diet of tea, toast and fruit juice. (OK, there may have been a port and stilton binge, but the less said, the better.)

Sausages (pan fried) and celeriac mash today.

There are two schools of thought re cooking sausages. The first approach is to bung them in a roasting tin, and sling them into a medium oven (about 150ºC) for an hour, which crisps them all over, and results in nice crunchy skin. The second, championed by Matthew Fort, is to put them in a pan on a very gentle heat, for around an hour. I’m normally a follower of the first method, as it’s foolproof and requires no intervention. Today, I went for the pan.

I had a lot of trouble finding an exact setting for the gas low enough to cook them gently enough so as not to burn, and hot enough so as to cook through. This required a great deal more attention and faffing than I’m accustomed. End result was very juicy, very flavoursome sausages, and a load of sticky goo at the bottom that made good gravy. Chewy skins, though.

Whatever method you follow, don’t prick the sausages. That just lets the flavour out.

Leftover Sausage Pasta

Coldish. Wettish. Some leftover (oven roasted) sausages in the fridge that need to eaten, and I don’t feel barbaric enough to simply wolf them down cold with mustard. Well, maybe one.

The rest get chopped up finely and fried, whilst a pot of pasta goes on the hob next door. Once the sausage bits are hot, I plonk in a spoon of crème fraîche (because it’s there) and a spoon of wholegrain mustard. Doesn’t quite taste right, so I pop in a spoon of chopped parsley from the freezer. By this point the pasta is done, so I drain it and throw it in with the sausages, and then server with pepper and parmesan.

I think there’s a better process described by Mr Slater, involving uncooked suasages, that you skin and crumble, and a great deal more cream. But I’ll save that for another occassion.

It may also have been interesting had I used more cream, covered the results in cheese and placed in the oven or under a hot grill. Hmmm.

Bangers & Mash

What a horrid day. Tension just seemed to have worked its way into the office: even the boss squared, normally tranquil in the face of all adversity, was irritable. I caved in to the mid afternoon slump, and had the dreaded Coke and Kit Kat Combo, whose sugar rush is as pleasurable as it is transitory. Then walking home in the cold past houses for sale that I can’t afford.

On days like this, one needs a bit of sausage to keep the glint in one’s eye and the spring in one’s step.

I always do mine in the oven – in a roasting tin with no need for oil – just 160 of the best degrees centigrade that my fan-forced oven has to offer for about 45 minutes. This leaves them with a nice all over tan, and reduces the risk of them bursting. (And don’t prick them, please. All the flavour just runs out.)

Meanwhile got busy with some garlic mash and steamed spinach. The garlic butter had surprisingly little effect on the mash, so wondering whether the effect was too subtle. Some other good things to put in mash:

  • mustard: wholegrain, Dijon, or English are all good, although be careful with the last of these
  • thinly chopped spring onions (no need to cook them)
  • cheese: grate and stir in at the last moment (hard cheeses are best: Cantal, Grana, Cheddar, Doddington, etc)
  • chopped up chives or parsley
  • garlic butter: peel and squish three cloves of garlic and fry gently in a little butter for about five minutes, making sure the garlic doesn’t brown, then fish out and discard the garlic, and tip the butter into the spuds during mashing

All of these particularly effective, and almost necessary, if you’re using Aunt Bessie’s, as it’s just a little too smooth otherwise.