A THOROUGHLY CORNISH CASSOULET
Warm up your evening meal with this Cornish take on a French classic from Ewen Macdonald...
This recipe is an absolute cheat, it is a completely bastardised form of this famous stew, so if you’re from the Languedoc Region please don’t add my name on a list of people banned from ever entering France again. Think of it simply as the misappropriation of a name. Basically, at its heart, it’s just posh sausage and beans, but what’s more British than that.
I like to serve this in bowls with some nice torn up pieces of baguette to soak up that sauce. Any leftover beans work wonderfully well with toasted bread and grilled Haloumi cheese for posh beans on toast. You could eat it as a weekend brunch, add some bacon (we love Primrose Herd) into the cooking with some black pudding, then plonk a fried egg down on top of the concoction and you’ve practically got a full Cornish.
It is the perfect kitchen supper to share with a few friends, just open a nice Rioja or Chianti and enjoy a full bodied winter evening. Something nice and fruity works well with this for dessert: tarte au citron, or a cool sorbet of lemon, raspberry or passionfruit.
This cassoulet should be a wholesome, heart-warming, sweet, salty, spicy, garlicky, unctuous bowl of maximum umami.
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1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil
1 Red Onion
2-4 Cloves of Garlic
1 Sweet Red Pepper
10 Small Sweet Tomatoes
6-8 Spiced Sausages
1 Tin of Italian Plum Tomatoes
1 Tin of Haricot Beans
2 Teaspoons of Concentrated Tomato Puree
1-2 Teaspoons of Sugar
1 Teaspoon of Sweet Smoked Paprika
1/2 Teaspoon of Hot Smoked Paprika
500ml of Vegetable/Chicken Stock
1 Bay Leaf
Cornish Sea Salt
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Put a large cast iron casserole pan on a low to medium heat. Keep the casserole pan lid on during cooking to trap all the juices and flavours in.
Add the olive oil and diced onion. Slice and add the sweet red pepper either in cubes or strips. Chop the garlic finely or use a garlic crusher or grater; I prefer to chop it as it gives a more mellow flavour, I also find chopping quite therapeutic. Keep in mind that if using the crusher or grater it tends to release all the juices from the garlic and makes its flavour stronger and more pungent.
Halve the small sweet tomatoes and throw them into the pot. I use the
tomatoes as they come because I have no fear of tomato skins, however, you can pierce the skins and pop them in a bowl of hot water and their skins should peel off easily.
Always watch the dish carefully at this stage to prevent burning.
When all the veg are nicely softened and cooked together add the tomato puree, the paprika, the rosemary and thyme and the sausages and mix together thoroughly. For me I can never have too much rosemary, basil or pepper, but be careful with thyme as it can quickly overpower a dish.
Now it’s time to add the sausages. Chorizo is the perfect sausage for this dish, as in Fabada Asturiana, the French traditionally use Toulouse sausage in a Cassoulet. Cornwall boasts an impressive list of specialist sausage makers including spicy chorizo at Delifarm Charcuterie (delifarmcharcuterie.co.uk) or traditional chorizo from Bude-based Cornish Charcuterie (cornishcharcuterie.co.uk).
Toss the tin of tomatoes into the casserole pot and the drained haricot beans. I’ve used tinned beans because life is way too short for soaking beans overnight.
Add the sugar, I use two teaspoons because it reminds me of those classic baked beans from childhood. Pour in the 500ml of vegetable or chicken stock, cover and simmer slowly over a stove for up to an hour.
Check the seasoning and add sea salt, cracked black pepper and any further paprika if required. Keep checking the dish periodically to ensure it isn’t drying out or sticking to the bottom.
Cook until the ingredients have blended together and the sauce has a thick, punchy consistency and remember to fish out that bay leaf. Serve straight from the pot with fresh crusty bread. We love Baker Tom.