4 + Portions. Approximate cost: £12.65 to £15.65,
Skill level: Easy,
Total cooking time: 60 minutes,
- Prep time: 15 minutes,
- Cooking time: 45 minutes
Equipment used: 2 frying pans (one that can go in the oven or a oven proof dish)
Original recipe: James Martin’s Sausage and lentil cassoulet
Adapted from James Martin’s dish of the same name, however leaving out the more luxurious confit duck legs, the smoked duck and substituting the veal stock for beef stock. (If you fancy making the original, I’d be keen to know how this turns out)
A word of advice; do not scrimp on the quality of the sausages here. Using a cheaper, less flavoursome variety will inevitably leave you with a bland, chewy end result. You want something that will maintain a bit of bite and something that oozes flavour (these were so tasty, I poured the fat that drained out back into the stew but managed to resist the temptation of licking the pan clean as well.)
Whereas most sausages contain around 20% breadcrumbs, a Toulouse sausage is 100% pure meat making it ideal for stewing. This dish is worth a visit to the local butcher.
- Finely chop the onion and set to one side.
- Finely chop the remaining ingredients and add to a bowl (you’ll cook these together after cooking the onion); celery, carrot, garlic, leek, pancetta
- If using dried pulses; soak lentils in cold water (fill with enough liquid so that the lentils are just covered) – The lentils I used say soaking isn’t necessary, as did the original cassoulet recipe however I found these to have slightly too much bite and so opted to soak for an hour the next time I made this. Alternatively used a can of prepared lentils such as Epicure canned bijoux verts lentils.
(Original recipe in bold text)
In the oven proof frying pan (no plastic handle), fry the sausages in the butter and oil, until browned – all that colour equates to flavour so don’t be tempted to skip this and brown for as long as you can (Nigel Slater goes as far as to say that all sausages should be cooked in a frying pan on a low heat for at least an hour to ensure that they ooze that sticky, Marmite-like goodness. The same logic applies so cook for at least 15 minutes. Once lightly browned all over, I added these to a pre-heated oven to ensure that they cooked through.
Heat a second large frying pan and then add the knob of butter and two tablespoons of olive oil. Once hot, add the onion and cook for two minutes. Add the garlic, diced bacon, carrot, celery, leek, bay leaf and cumin and cook for a further two minutes.
To this second pan, add the lentils and red wine and bring to the boil. Cook until the volume of wine has reduced by half, then add the stock. (The original recipe states to use 450ml but I only used around 250ml of stock as I opted to exclude all of the duck meat.)
Place the cooked sausages, duck and smoked duck (if using) in the pan and cook the lentils for 25-30 minutes. Mix in the sherry vinegar and parsley. (I used red wine vinegar instead)
- 6 to 12 quality Toulouse sausages, depending on size. If you cannot source Toulouse sausages use those of equal quality (£5 to £8 approximately)
- 1 onion (15p)
- 3 garlic cloves,
- 110g to 150g pancetta (£2.35 for 110g, Tesco Finest)
- 1/4 leek,
- 1 stick of celery (£1 for a pack of several sticks)
- 1 bay leaf,
- 2 tsp ground cumin,
- 200g puy lentils / green lentils / lentilles vertes (£1.15 for a 500g bag)
- 175ml red wine,
- 450ml beef stock (do not be tempted to use a cube) (£2.50) – I only used 250ml.
- 2 tbsp chopped parsley (50p)
- a good knob of butter