Thursday, 25 October 2012

Farm Fresh

 A couple of days ago we drove down to the local farm for a bit of fresh air. The farm shop was crowded with people buying winter greens and the fields beyond were dotted with families choosing just the right pumpkin for Halloween. The smallest children wrestling the largest pumpkins in a field of orange. After a quick hello to the cows, a friendly bunch as you can see, we took the path south passing several smaller farms before encountering the strongest smell you can imagine. At first we thought it was burning rubber, but a large pink object lying still amongst the dirt and a loud snuffling and grunting revealed, to our delight, a family of pigs.
For most when we think pig we think bacon, chops and sausages, and, as cute as the pigs were, they reminded me of a staple winter recipe that we hadn't had in a while. A favourite of my son and husband, this recipe is great as it can so easily be vegetarian and the kick from the Tabasco elevates it from plain to exciting.


Sausage and Bean Casserole                                                                          

1 large onion
2 or 3 large carrots
2 tbsp oil
1 lb pork sausages
1 can ( 1/2cup) chickpeas, rinsed
1 can (1/2cup) red kidney beans, rinsed
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp cornflour
350ml light stock
1 tsp (or to taste) Tabasco
2 tbsp tomato puree
salt and pepper

Heat your grill and cook the sausages until browned and firm. Set aside.

Preheat your oven to 325F (170C).

Peel and roughly chop the onions. Wash and slice the carrots into medallions. Heat the oil in a large oven proof casserole over medium heat, then add the onion and carrots and cook for 5 minutes until softened.

Slice the sausage into rounds and add to the casserole with the onions and carrots. Add the drained and rinsed chickpeas and kidney beans. Pour over the tomatoes. Blend the cornflour with a little of the stock then add to the casserole with the remaining stock, tomato puree, Tabasco and seasoning.

Bring to a boil, then cover and place in your heated oven for 1 hour or longer if possible to increase the depth of flavour. Serve with rice, mashed potato or crusty bread to soak up the juices.

We tend to like things spicy and will have Tabasco at the table to add more heat once the casserole is cooked as we find the Tabasco tends to mellow in the oven. Also, always get the best quality sausages you can. Visit your butcher and make sure you know what's in them. For a crowd this can easily be doubled and you can add more or less veggies to suit your fancy. I hazard a guess that this would be good cooked in a slow cooker, although I don't have one so that really is a guess. Do try and let it cook for a good long time though, I usually aim for 2-3 hours. Finally to make this vegetarian, just leave out the sausage, it's just as good without.

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