One-pot wonder: autumn evenings are made for dishes like this quick cassoulet
The good thing about cooking at this time of year is the return of the one-pot all-in supper. The classic cassoulet fits the bill perfectly, a slow-cooked stew typically containing meat and beans – usually a type of sausage and confit duck leg, alongside haricot beans. Cassoulet in all its full-blown glory is a wonderful thing – this is a quicker version, perfect for a midweek meal or last-minute entertaining. Use premium quality sausages as this makes a real difference. This recipe serves 4.
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olive oil, for frying
4 thick Cumberland sausages
4 rashers streaky bacon, sliced
6 banana shallots, halved lengthways
1 courgette, sliced into discs
2 garlic cloves, lightly crushed with the back of a knife
250g cooking chorizo, diced
1 teaspoon chilli flakes
a few dashes of Tabasco sauce
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
1 x 400g can cannellini beans, drained
1 x 400g can butter beans, drained
1/2 x 460g jar roasted peppers, drained and sliced
250ml chicken stock
a small bunch of thyme, tied with string
salt and white pepper to taste
4 tablespoons chopped parsley
4 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
4 tablespoons dried breadcrumbs
Parmesan shavings, to garnish (optional)
1 In a wide flameproof casserole with a lid, heat a glug of olive oil, then gently brown the Cumberland sausages on all sides. Remove them and cut across in half, then set aside.
2 Add the bacon to the pan and brown it, then add the halved shallots. When the shallots are slightly golden, remove them with a slotted spoon and set aside.
3 Add the courgette and garlic to the bacon, with more olive oil if needed, and season with white pepper and a little salt. Cook for 3 minutes, then add the chorizo and stir well to combine. Stir in the chilli flakes and Tabasco. Fry for 4–5 minutes or until the chorizo is lightly browned.
4 Add the canned tomatoes and beans, the roasted peppers and stock and stir to mix. Return the sausages and shallots to the pan along with the bunch of thyme. Bring to the boil. Taste and adjust the seasoning, then cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes. Turn up the heat and cook with the lid slightly ajar for a further 10 minutes to reduce the sauce slightly.
5 Preheat the grill to medium. Combine the parsley, Parmesan, lemon zest and breadcrumbs. Check the cassoulet for seasoning, and remove and discard the bunch of thyme. Scatter the breadcrumb mixture evenly over the surface of the cassoulet to cover completely. Place under the grill for 8–10 minutes or until golden brown. Leave to rest for,5 minutes before serving in large bowls, garnished with Parmesan shavings if you like.
*Recipe: Dale Williams. Photograph: David Loftus. Taken from Masterchef: The Finalists (Absolute Press, £20, out now)