On gloomy dark damp days like we have had recently, comfort food smashes down your front door with an axe, gently seals it up again, covers you with a nice blanket beside the fire in front of something like Coronation Street, and hands you a lovely bowl of hot stew and a cup of tea. Aaah…
It was extremely wet, and I was working from home, and damned if I was leaving my home-made office which has a fireplace. An actual fireplace. So, I had to make do with whatever was lying around my honey-covered presses.
This happened to include some ever-reliable tins of tomatoes, a tin of cannellini beans that I was convinced would languish a shelf years beyond their use-by, two red onions, fresh rosemary from a wizzly and neglected garden pot (surely, next to mint, the easiest herb to grow), the miraculous leaves of a very hardy basil plant, and chillies from the freezer.
The centrepiece: sausages. You’d shovel any old pig scrapings into your face for a Saturday fry, but sausage stews demand something decent. I had a packet of Aldi’s Garlic and Herb sausages, with 80 per cent pork, which their PR people sent me in a big shiny box. They’re just €1.99 for 380g. They were delicious and did the trick.
This is what I made. It’s my recipe. I made it with my very own simple mind. There’s no need to worry about getting it exactly right, just try to make it reasonably similar.
Sausage and Cannellini Bean Stew with Chilli and Herbs
Ingredients (serves four)
- 12 good-quality sausages, ideally with herbs (no leeks though, ugh)
- 2 tins of tomatoes
- 2 red onions
- 6-8 green birdseye chillies, or approx equivelent
- 2 tins of cannellini beans
- 1 whole garlic bulb, broken into unpeeled cloves
- Fresh herbs: there are many options here. I went for a handful of chopped fresh basil with around three rather bare sprigs of rosemary. Sage and thyme would also have worked, or rosemary and parsley. Dried herbs: use one-third the amount of fresh herbs.
- A little vegetable stock
- A splash of red wine (optional but recommended)
- Black pepper to taste
- Fry off your sausages in olive oil. When they’re about half cooked, add the onions.
- Stir until translucent, add the chopped chillies, fry for a minute or two.
- Tip everything into a pot. Or keep them in the same pot if you fried the sausage and onion in it.
- Add the tinned tomatoes, fresh herbs, whole clove of garlic, and tins of beans.
- Top up with just enough stock to cover everything.
- Cook on a very low heat for around two hours.
This is a really simple recipe. It takes about ten minutes to prepare, even for a slow poke like me. However, once you’ve got all the ingredients together, you can’t really leave this to cook for long enough. I made it in a slow cooker and left it simmer for the best part of the day.
Ideally served with mashed potato, sweet potato mash, or crusty bread and butter. Or a green salad, if you’re creepy enough to desire such a thing in cold, rainy weather as an accompaniment to a rich sausage stew.