Difficulty 3/5 time 1 hr Taste 5/5 feeds about 4
This goes back to the old themes of comfort food. The only advice I can really give is to make sure you have a big pot, it is very difficult to get the sausages browned properly and the flour amalgamated without one. This was where I slipped up a little bit. It was still really really tasty, but it would have been even better if I had a bigger pot. This recipe is taken from Tender vol. 2 – a cook’s guide to the fruit garden, which is one of my absolutely favourite books to read. This is actually the first recipe that I have made from it.
· 250g dried flageolet or haricot beans (I used about 1 ¼ cans of cannellini beans)
· Chicken thighs (skin off, bone in) I added these in for bulk and variation, and I’m sure that the bones further enriched the sauce. I’m sure that it would be delicious without them, I just didn’t have enough sausages for all the people I needed to feed!
· 3 onions
· 2 tbsp olive oil
· 3 large garlic cloves
· 2 small pinches fennel seeds
· 2 bay leaves
· 8 sausages (Nigel Slater specified nicely seasoned pork sausages, I used lamb ones. It is up to you what kind you use, but obviously makes sure that it is not a conflicting flavour. I think that the lamb added a lovely depth of flavour, working exceptionally well with the beans and apple (I wouldn’t recommend using chicken sausages, but that’s just because I don’t like them).Veggie sausages would also work well.
· 2 large dessert apples. As I had increased the quantities slightly, I used 2 ½ red apples, and 1 bramley. This was a nice combination as the dessert apples keep their shape and are lovely and sweet, while the cooker disintegrated completely, adding thickness to the sauce and a tart background note).
· 2 tbsp plain flour
· 1 glass Madeira or medium dry sherry (I used pear cider, as it was what I had. Looking back, it totally did not need the extra sweetness).
· 1 litre stock (I used a mixture of onion and chicken soup mix, about 2 parts onion, 1 part chicken).
· 2 tbsp grain mustard (I only used 1, as I forgot to put in the second, it was still delicious and may have been a little too mustardy with the second).
(I will leave out the section about cooking the beans). Peel the onions, cut in half, and then cut each half into 6 or so thick segments. Warm the oil in a large casserole over a low/ medium heat. Put onions in pan and leave to colour slightly but make sure they don’t stick or burn.
Whilst the onions are cooking, peel and slice the garlic, then add to the onions with the fennel and bay. Push the mixture to one side of the pan (or if the pan is small, remove them). Cut the sausages into short lengths, add them to the pan and brown on all sides. If using chicken, brown the chicken as well.
Meanwhile, peel core and quarter the apples. You can cut them smaller, but obviously the bigger the pieces, the more likely they are to stay together. When the sausages are reasonably crispy (this was my main problem – see above), add into the pan the onions, apples and flour. Cook for 5 mins or so, and then gradually pour in the Madeira/ sherry and stock, stirring continuously. Add half the mustard, season and leave to simmer for 25 mins.
Add the beans, check the seasoning and simmer gently for another 20-25 mins. It is ready when the meat is cooked and most of the liquid has evaporated. Add the rest of the mustard and cook for a minute or 2 longer.
Simultaneously, I made a vegan version using cauldron brand marinated tofu, which also worked very well, but tasted a little sweeter as it did not have the richness of the meat off-setting the apples.