Roasted white beans and braised sausages
Sausages are an easy go-to meal and so often combined with mashed potato. Rightly so, a classic and comforting dish, simple to make, hearty and oh so good for winter eves. Beans and sausages are an equally good combination in my mind and are often braised together, another warming bowl of goodness. This recipe combines a little of both these ideas: the sausages braised whole with stock, the beans crisp yet creamy, and, best of all, super quick and easy to make with less washing-up than when making mashed potato.
As far as sausages go, skip dodgy ones filled with meat of questionable quality and unpalatable ingredients. A few I have loved: blood sausages of all forms, including an obscure, delicious Italian one called biroldo, made with chocolate; boudin blanc, classically containing meat but equally good made with seafood; the great Spanish chorizo; a Bunnings sausage sanger, the smell irresistible despite knowing you are probably not about to eat the finest quality of meat. My current sausage obsession is a work in progress – make or eat the perfect Sri Lankan lingus, a fatty little number fragrant with cinnamon or clove. But all that is needed for this recipe is some simple pork sausages, the finer quality the better.
My mum is always astounded I use canned beans instead of cooking my own. I do believe that if you have the foresight and a good quality dried bean, then soaking and cooking your beans is a fine and relatively simple task. There’s no real trick to it, however, badly cooked ones are a sin. Overdone, they become a mushy, watery mess; undercooked and they are floury and texturally dubious. The convenience and well-cookedness of many canned varieties tips me to the tin. I have an array in the cupboard for quick meals, along with chickpeas. Also, when the zombies come, I think it will be canned beans that save me.
All of that aside, with a tin of beans in your cupboard and a sausage in your freezer, you are very close to being able to whip up this dinner in no time. The beans roasted in a generous pool of oil have all the texture you could want – crunch and softness; the herbs and the garlic adding extra little bits of goodness. The sausages puff nicely when braised and the chicken stock and butter create a rich and sticky sauce. This is a dish that could easily become as popular in your repertoire as bangers and mash.
Time: 30 minutes
- 1 x 400g tin of cannellini beans
- 40ml olive oil plus a little extra
- 1 whole head of garlic, cloves peeled and crushed flat with the side of a knife
- 2 twigs rosemary, picked
- 6-7 sprigs thyme, picked
- 4 good quality pork sausages
- 40g butter
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 250ml chicken stock
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- lemon to season
- salt flakes and black pepper to season
- Drain and wash your beans and leave over a strainer to release as much liquid as possible.
- Place an ovenproof baking dish over a high heat. It should be big enough to fit the beans in a single layer. Add in the oil and let this heat to just smoking. Carefully add in the beans; they will sizzle and spit. Give them a gentle turn and then add the garlic and herbs.
- Leave them on a high heat for a couple of minutes, stirring once or twice, before placing them into a fan-forced oven preheated to 200°C. The beans will take about 20-25 minutes to reach the right point of crisp – they will need to be stirred twice or so during this process.
- Find a crockpot or saucepan big enough for your sausages to fit comfortably. Place over a high heat, warm and then add in a generous splash of oil. Once hot, gently place the sausages followed by the butter and fennel seeds. Let the sausages colour nicely on both sides before adding your stock and sugar. Turn the heat down low and place a lid on top. Let this simmer for about 12 minutes, raising the lid to turn the sausages once or twice.
- Remove the lid, taste your sauce and season well with salt and pepper to balance the sweet. Let it gently reduce until it’s a little thick and shiny, about 5 minutes. Season with a generous squeeze of lemon at the end.
- By this stage your beans should be ready. Serve them between two plates, top with two sausages on each and spoon the sauce over.
- Serve with salad, boiled broccoli or pan-cooked greens.
This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on September 2, 2023 as "Bang on".
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