Quick-time sausage cassoulet

This dish was inspired by a builder called Dusty, who kept talking about a sausage casserole. So I made this one up very quickly, basing it on a French cassoulet-type thing. It's nice and easy to cook for a group as it's all done in one dish. While I was going sausage-mad, I realized that we're fantastically lucky these days to have great sausages available in the supermarkets, farmers' markets and good local butchers. In this dish feel free to use any sausages you like.

Nutritional Information (amount per serving)


Serves 8   Approx time: 85   Difficulty: super easy


  • 2 handfuls dried porcini mushrooms, broken up
  • 8 thick slices dry-cured higher-welfare streaky bacon
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large bunch mixed fresh rosemary, thyme and sage
  • 2 red onions, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
  • ½ heart celery, finely chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ bottle red wine
  • 3 x 400 g tinned plum tomatoes
  • 2 x 400 g tinned borlotti or cannellini beans or use a mixture
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 24 higher-welfare chipolata sausages, or use 16 larger sausages
  • 1 large stale loaf, crusts removed
  • 1 small handful fresh thyme, leaves picked


Preheat your oven to 200˚C/400˚F/gas 6. Put your porcini mushrooms into a dish, cover with 565ml/1 pint of boiling water and allow to soak until soft. Heat a large roasting tray on the hob. Slice the bacon across into strips – called 'lardons'. Fry in 4 tablespoons of olive oil until crisp and golden. Tie your herbs together with some string and add to the bacon in the pan with your onions, garlic, carrot, celery and bay leaves. Drain the porcini, reserving the soaking liquid, add them to the pan and fry nice and slowly for about 5 minutes. Add the red wine and simmer until the liquid has reduced by half.

Add the tomatoes to the pan, breaking them up with a spoon, then add your strained porcini soaking liquor and the beans. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Lightly season then lay your sausages on top – all higgledy piggledy, so they can get nice and brown as they cook. Break up your bread into coarse, chunky breadcrumbs, toss with the thyme, a little salt and olive oil and sprinkle around the sausages. Place in the oven for around 40 minutes until the sausages and breadcrumbs are golden and crisp. Remove the bunch of herbs and serve with something like mashed potato or polenta.

Try this: Any combination of beans and lentils works well in this cassoulet, so feel free to use what you fancy.

And this: Sometimes if I want to make this a bit more healthy and get some greens involved I will stir in a couple of handfuls of fresh spinach right at the end when serving up. The heat from the dish will make the spinach wilt.

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