Cassoulet is one of my favourite dishes. This simple home-style version is closer to baked beans and sausages than fine French fare, but I'm okay with that. If using dried beans you’ll need to start soaking them the night before.
400g dried great northern beans, cannellini beans or navy beans
2 tbsp olive oil
4 chicken drumsticks
4 good-quality pork sausages
4 thick slices speck or 200g bacon pieces
1 onion, peeled and diced
1 small carrot, peeled and diced
1 stick celery, diced
1 cup tomato passata
2 cups chicken stock
2 bay leaves
5 sprigs thyme
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp chopped parsley, to serve
1. Place the beans in a bowl, cover them with water – about 3 centimetres above the beans – and add a teaspoon of salt. Allow to stand at room temperature overnight. Drain the beans and rinse with clean water, then place in a medium saucepan and cover with water again. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 40 minutes then drain.
2. Heat your oven to 150C fan-forced (160C conventional). Heat a large, wide, oven-proof frying pan (or use a heavy baking dish) over medium heat. Add the oil and fry the chicken drumsticks, sausages and speck or bacon until browned. Remove from the pan (if using bacon pieces you can leave these in the pan). Add the onion, carrot and celery and fry for about 10 minutes until fragrant. Add the beans to the pan and stir to coat and combine. Add the passata, chicken stock, bay leaves, thyme and salt and stir.
3. Arrange the chicken, sausages, and speck back in the pan, pressing them into the mixture until halfway submerged. Bake for 90 minutes, then remove from the oven and allow to stand for 10 minutes. Scatter with parsley and serve.
Tip: I prefer to use dried beans as I think they have a better flavour and soaking overnight takes no effort at all, but if you're pressed for time then use canned and skip the soaking. Click here for more tips including which meats to buy