Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Sausage and Fennel Cassoulet

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The weather has changed and showing itself from its glorious side. It’s like summer in spring! The winter was an extremely mild one and by end of February it did not stand a chance against the warming sun. Crocuses and tulips had begun sprouting, the storks had returned and were ardently busy with building house, while beer gardens across Germany opened – probably never before as early as beginning of March!

Early mornings are still crisp but by midday the sun stands high and proudly in a blue sky melting away the last of the frost as the temperatures rise well into double digits. My washing line is back up in the yard and as I wriggle my toes in the fresh dewy grass, I get real gratification watching my laundry sway gently in the warm breeze. This is my secret pleasure – the first load of washing of the year drying in the first rays of spring sunshine. Once dry, the feathery softness of T-shirts, jeans, skirts and blouses is incomparable to any dryer and any store-bought freshener promising “summer breeze” or “spring bloom.”

But how deceiving this weather is! Before we knew it we were complaining of itchy throats, which led to the sniffles and barking coughs and then came the fever. All three of us have been down with the flu this past week. Soeren had also contracted a mean ear infection. We are on the mend again with lots of chamomile steam inhalation, herbal and spiced teas, tissues and cough syrup. Huddled under blankets, we are recuperating with soups and stews getting our energy levels back.

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We still have our appetites, which is a good sign. Meals have to be quick however and happen using as few pots and pans as possible to be able to climb under the blankets as quickly as possible.

So this idea of a quick sausage and fennel cassoulet is the perfect remedy. A classic cassoulet is a long albeit rewarding affair. A cassoulet is the epitome dish of French country cooking; a hearty casserole of creamy white beans layered with meats, sausage, and duck confit, slowly baked until brown and bubbling. It is a dish that, to this day, stirs up fierce debate over what makes it authentic. For centuries, cooks in France have made it with ingredients available locally and while it isn’t difficult to make it just takes a lot of time.

In contrast my quick (or cheats) cassoulet uses really good pork sausages and adds a different flavor twist with bulbs of fennel and chipotle chili paste. I also use canned borlotti beans for this version. When making the traditional version dried French white navy beans called haricots is the way to go.
It satisfied a fancy craving in half the time. For a sick house this was a route to a speedy recovery.

Current Workshops & E-Courses

With only 3 workshops in Europe this year I am looking forward to travelling to some awesome cities. Currently 2 workshops have been announced and registrations are running for both the Helsinki and Venice workshop so make sure to grab a slot.

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Helsinki Food Styling & Photography Workshop

A 2-day workshop in Finland's dynamic and pulsating capital, Helsinki. The focus of this workshop will be light and lighting systems as we work on harnessing natural light and work with artificial lighting systems.
Helsinki, Finland
7 - 8 June 2014
More details and the preliminary programme here.
Registrations for this workshop are now open: please fill out the registration form.

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Venice Food Styling & Photography Workshop

A 2-day workshop in the delightful prosecco region of Valdobbiadene just outside of Venice, Italy.
1st - 3rd May 2014
The focus of this workshop is on natural and low-light photography as well as styling and creating moods for your images.
Details for the Venice Food Styling and Photography Workshop here.
To register for this workshop please fill out the registration form here.



The March session for my e-courses at the interactive school of photography and multimedia The Compelling Image (TCI) are now online and enrolments are running. These courses are aimed primarily at food bloggers and photographers who would like to enhance and hone their food photography and styling skills.

Enrolments for March 2014:
10 March 2014 (Enroll before 17 Mar 2014)
17 March 2014 (Enroll before 24 Mar 2014)
24 March 2014 (Enroll before 31 Mar 2014)
31 March 2014 (Enroll before 07 Apr 2014)

To buy a place on this course, please select the session that you would like to here.

My instructor page on TCI here.

Recipe: Sausage and Fennel Cassoulet

Printable version of recipe here

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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 60 minutes
Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 12 pork sausages or bratwursts
  • 6 slices dry-cured rashers of bacon
  • Splash or red wine
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • ½ teaspoon chipotle chili paste
  • ½ bunch of fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 red onions, cut into wedges
  • 1 bulb fennel, cut into wedges
  • Pinch of salt and fresh cracked pepper
  • 2 x 400g canned plum tomatoes
  • 2 x 400g canned borlotti beans
  • 200 ml chicken stock

Method:

  1. Fry the bacon in a shallow pan until crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Fry the sausages in the bacon fat until they have taken on a bit of golden color. Set aside. If the sausages are not cooked all the way through do not worry. They will cook further in the oven.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. De-glaze the pan with a splash of wine then add the garlic, chipotle chili paste, onion wedges and thyme and stir on a low heat for about five minutes. Transfer to an casserole dish. Add the remaining ingredients - fennel, canned tomatoes and borlotti beans and half of the chicken stock. Also add the sausages and bacon, then put in the oven. Allow to cook for a good 35-45 minutes. Check and stir from time to time if you find it getting too dry add some more of the stock
  3. Serve this with thyme and rosemary roasted potatoes.


Verdict

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This is a big flavored bold dish and so perfect to wipe out those blues caused by nasty colds. A hearty meal prepared in no time and satisfies all the taste-buds are craving for. The sausages are the main star so do make sure you source the best sausages you can. As a variation you can also use cannellini beans or a mix. Add a few diced carrot or parsnips if you like - this casserole is versatile and to adjust to your taste-buds. Enjoy!

Connect

In this section of the post I share bits and pieces, finds and interesting things I come across as I surf the web. It might be a quote, a picture a moving post, interesting news and announcements, whatever makes me connect with you.

Have fun browsing through a few things that moved me, made me laugh and happy this week. I hope they do the same for you.

See you next week!

You might like these Get Well Soon dishes from What's For Lunch, Honey?:

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Pollo alla Cacciatora - Hunter’s Chicken Stew
Roasted Fennel Soup with Pernod and Smoked Salmon
Ossobuco with Prunes, Apricots and Saffron


All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2013 Meeta Khurana Wolff unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

13 comments :

  1. Spring has arrived! This is one of my favorite times of the year.

    Your tasty cassoulet looks amazing! I love that flavor combination. Fennel adds an extra dimension to dishes.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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    1. Thanks Rosa. Yes fennel adds a fantastic twist to the dish. I love Spring too and cannot wait to get out and enjoy the new life around me.

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  2. Isn't it awesome the way the weather has changed? As we speak it is sunny, warm and blue skies here as well (although it's probably a bit chillier than over at your place) and I cannot wait to spend more time in the garden. It's gonna be redone as well this spring so it's supposedly awesome by april! ;) In the meantime this is a beautiful dish to get better! Hope you are feeling a bit more your usual vibrant self hon.. Hugs!

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    1. We've got temperatures hitting the 20C mark already so I am a happy girl here. I know you would love this dish too. Wish you were closer so I can treat you to it.

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  3. I am not sure you got my previous comment.. so resending..

    Sending you healthy vibes for a speedy recovery! And, drink lots of turmeric lemon water, it seems to help me when I have a cold and scratchy throat.

    Thank you for including me in your connect list! So honored. That bread means more to me than just yeast issues. It is a symbol of my life getting back on even keel! :)

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    1. I can totally imagine what that bread means for you .. you are a bold and gutsy lady and I love the way you are tackling this. Thanks ... yes my mum also tells me to gurgle with turmeric water. :o)

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  4. Adore a good sausage casserole and envy you access to the best it the sausage department! Hope you are on the mend. Thanks so much for the mention and all your lovely comments. Looking forward to hearing all about those up and coming workshops...look so exciting

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    1. Thanks ... the flu took out my energy levels, I still have the sniffles but it's better now. Just positive about the warming weather and I though that Spring is almost here. I really owe you a massive email to fill you in on everything. Miss you loads and next time I come you'll get your bratwurst again ;o)

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  5. You know, am just tired of winter….we had 4 inches of snow yesterday and the ground still has at least 3 feet of mounts of snow here and there with patches of dull grass, barely surviving. We had the strongest winter I have seen in the last 15 years….. Opps ! sorry this is your blog post not my weather ranting page.
    Meeta, your work is amazing and always inspiring. I was going thru your recipe index, to search for the brownie pear and what an immersive collection! Wow! Mind blowing ! Love your work. Also, I could not find the brownie. if you find time please pm me the link.

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    Replies
    1. No you should feel comfortable to share your thoughts and just chat. It makes me happy. Luckily the snow is gone ... we hardly had any this season. Thanks so much for the kind words Simi, much appreciated. The brownie recipe is not on the blog. I made it for a dinner party with baby pears. Maybe I should re-make and post.

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  6. It's raining in my part of Italy right now and this sounds like the perfect meal for dinner tonight! Lucky for me we have fresh sausages in the freezer from the family pig that was slaughtered in February. The recipe calls for "1/2 chipotle chili paste". I'm going to use 1/2 teaspoon and see how that tastes, then I can always add more. But I am curious about the measurement. Thanks Meeta!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for your comment. Looking forward to your verdict on this and nothing beats fresh sausages.
      Thank you for pointing out the error in the measurements - it was indeed 1/2 teaspoon. I have rectified it :)

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  7. The dish was a hit! I will definitely be making this recipe again! We can't wait to enjoy the leftovers later in the week!!!

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Thank you for visiting What's For Lunch, Honey? and taking time to browse through my recipes, listen to my ramblings and enjoy my photographs. I appreciate all your comments, feedback and input. I will answer your questions to my best knowledge and respond to your comments as soon as possible.

In the meantime I hope you enjoy your stay here and that I was able to make this an experience for your senses.

Hugs
Meeta