I know, it’s not much to look at. And with everything (finally!) turning green, I imagine you’re in the mood for something a little more fresh-from-the-ground. But if I wait until it gets really hot no one will want to turn the oven on, and if I set this aside for the fall, I’ll forget. And I don’t want to forget this.
It’s dark and rich and sticky and intense… and lengthier than my usual, I realize – but far shorter than the average cassoulet. You won’t have to wrangle an entire duck or roast a whole pig or cook three separate dishes, then combine them in an 18 quart pot and bake them together for seventeen hours to get where you’re going.
So yes, I realize it’s not really a traditional cassoulet; it’s more a long-simmered lamb and bean casserole, which has nowhere near as much panache. (What’s in a name? A lot, I think.)
If rain is in your forecast, this is a really great-smelling way to warm up the house. Even if you’re just cooking for one – why not make yourself a pot of cassoulet? It’s the sort of dish that gets better with a day or two to linger in the fridge – perfect to have on standby for dinner or to take to work for lunch. Even if your office is in the spare bedroom.
2 cups dry white beans, such as navy or cannellini
olive or canola oil, for cooking
2 large lamb shanks
salt and pepper, to taste
8 slices bacon, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
4-5 garlic cloves, crushed
1-2 cups dry red wine or tomato juice
2-3 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup tomato sauce or puree
a few sprigs of fresh thyme
a few sprigs of fresh rosemary
1/2 lb. lamb or pork sausage
1 1/2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
1 Tbsp. melted butter
Preheat the oven to 325F. Cover the beans with plenty of water and let them soak for several hours, or overnight; alternatively, bring the beans and water to a boil, then remove from the heat and let sit for 2 hours.
Set a large ovenproof casserole over medium-high heat and add a generous drizzle of oil. Cut most of the meat off the shanks and cut it into 1-inch chunks and sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Brown it in batches in the pan and set aside. Add the bacon and cook until the fat starts to cook off; add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic and cook for 4-5 minutes, until soft and starting to brown.
Return the meat to the pot, add the wine, stock, tomato puree and a few sprigs of thyme and rosemary, cover and cook for 2 1/2-3 hours, until the meat is very tender.
Meanwhile, cover the beans with water, add a garlic clove and a few sprigs of herbs and simmer for 45 minutes or so, until tender. Whenever they’re done, drain them well and pull out the garlic and herbs, then pull the lamb pot from the oven and stir them in. (About halfway through the lamb cooking time.) If you like, cool it down and refrigerate overnight.
In a large, heavy skillet, heat a drizzle of oil over medium-high heat and cook the lamb sausage (squeeze it out of its casing if you need to), breaking the meat up with a spoon until the meat is no longer pink and is starting to get crispy. When the lamb is done, pull out the bones and give it a stir, then spread the crispy lamb sausage over top. Turn the oven up to 375F.
Toss together the breadcrumbs and butter – or pulse torn up bread with the butter in a food processor until well blitzed and blended – and sprinkle overtop. Bake for 30-45 minutes (depending on whether it’s coming from the fridge or starting hot), until bubbly and crispy on top. Serves about 8.
May 27 2013 | lamb and one dish | 3 Comments »
It’s raining all weekend, right? This is the plan? Which means we’re diving back into warm and cheesy comfort food? Good, because I’ve been dying to tell you about this sloppy little number.
It was by total serendipity that this came to be. I was making cheese rarebit for Alice, and had just finished taking photos of it. Rarebit is one of those dishes that has gone the way of escargot and beef Wellington; for those unfamiliar, it’s a Welsh dish of cheese, loosened with ale or milk or made into a thick cheese sauce and poured over toast, then broiled. Toasted cheese, I want to call it. My mom used to make cheese sauce, but she’d pour it over steamed broccoli. Remember when that was a thing? Broccoli with cheese sauce? A total 80s side dish. Does anyone do it anymore? Broccoli-cheese segregated the granolas from the junk food eaters; my mom used to make a roux of butter, flour and milk, then add handfuls of grated cheese, but I envied my friends whose moms would simply screw the lid off the jar of Cheez Whiz and pop it in the microwave.
Anyway. I’d much rather pour mine over crusty toast; I happened to have a few slices smothered in cheese sauce at the same time I was doing sloppy Joes for somethingorother, and on a whim I ladled a scoop of sloppy Joe onto sloppy cheese, and – well. Think of a chili baked potato topped with cheese, or a tomatoey pasta and cheese, or really anything with bread, meat and tomatoes – the combo begs to be topped with cheese. Or to be scooped over cheese, as it were; starting with a base of cheese sauce just adds to the sloppiness.
2 Tbsp. butter, plus extra for buttering
2 Tbsp. flour
1 cup milk or beer
2 cups grated aged cheddar or Gouda cheese
1 large egg yolk (optional)
1 Tbsp. (15 mL) grainy mustard (optional)
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce (optional)
salt and pepper
4 thick slices good-quality crusty bread
Preheat the oven to 400F.
In a medium saucepan, heat the butter and flour over medium-high heat until the butter melts; whisk until smooth, then whisk in the milk and bring to a boil. Once the mixture bubbles, cook it for a full minute, stirring until it thickens, then turn the heat down to low and quickly whisk in the cheese, egg yolk, mustard and Worcestershire. Season with salt and pepper and whisk until melted and smooth.
Toast your bread in a single layer on a baking sheet in the oven until golden. If you like, butter your toast. Pour the cheese sauce over top and turn the oven up to broil; run the rarebit under the broiler for a few minutes, until golden and blistered on top. Serve immediately, or use as a base for sloppy Joes. Serves 4.
canola or olive oil, for cooking
1 onion, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 lb. lean ground beef or bison
1 19 oz. (540 mL) can plum tomatoes (I like the San Marzano-style ones packed in tomato puree)
1/2 cup ketchup
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper
In a large skillet set over medium-high heat, heat a drizzle of oil and sauté the onion for 3-4 minutes, until soft. Add the garlic and ground beef and cook, breaking it up with a spoon, until the meat is no longer pink.
Add the tomatoes, ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper to taste and bring to a simmer; cook for 20-30 minutes, until the mixture thickens. Adjust the seasonings and serve hot over soft buns or cheesy Rarebit. Serves 4.
May 22 2013 | beef and one dish and sandwiches | 15 Comments »