As a family of five, make ahead meals are really helpful when life gets busy. And, if the recipe can be made in one pot that makes the cooking experience easier and more fun. My Spicy Sausage Bean Casserole ticks both boxes. Whether it is bubbling away on the hob, or in the oven, it’s aroma fills the house with a warm spicy scent. Almost like a warm hug welcoming you home.
Why I love Autumn
Before we get on with the recipe, I’d like to share my thoughts with you. Since Autumn, or Fall as it’s called in the States is my favourite season. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy Summer, in fact, I like all of the seasons. Much as the glorious, unending sunshine places like California offer, I simply love the change in seasons we enjoy here in England. You may enjoy reading Autumn The Most Beautiful Season.
There is something enchanting about the subtle change in weather, usually towards the end of August, or beginning of September where I live. Whether it’s the deep, deep green of the leaves on the trees, or the rustle as the wind blows through the drying out leaves. As their colour changes, from deepest red to fiery orange, with an almost last nod to the low hanging sun in the sky, they finally turn yellow. Some days bring fluttering, confetti like leaves, dancing through the air on a breeze. While other days see trees, ripped overnight of their leafy covering, by violent storms and gale force winds.
There is a welcoming warmth of sunshine. Especially on a clear, frosty, day. Although, there is something to be said for darker, rain and wind filled days, snuggled up on the sofa, the smell of a spicy casserole, gently bubbling away in the oven. And puddings! A must, some may say essential, during the colder months.
Creating a cheap meal using quality products
Since first making this dish it has evolved to the final recipe given here. While most of the ingredients are relatively cheap, it is essential to use good quality sausages. Pale, flabby, pink sausages will simply disintegrate during the long cooking process. So adding good quality pork sausages, while more expensive, will enhance the overall flavour of the dish. Especially as one packet will feed up to six people.
You will need a large ( 4 litre) ovenproof casserole dish, or bigger if doubling the recipe to feed a crowd.
Recipe: Spicy Sausage Bean Casserole serves 4 – 6
1 Large Onion – chopped into small dice
1 Aubergine – chopped into 1/2″ cubes
450g/1lb Good Quality Sausages each sausage chopped into 4 pieces – I use Graig Farm Sausages
2 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes ( plus 1 extra tin if not adding wine)
1 x 400g tin of baked beans
2 x 400g butter beans – strained and rinsed with cold water
4 individual bulbs of garlic – minced
1 chilli (or 1tsp chilli flakes) finely chopped
200mls of red wine I use Claret (or 100ml Port – any type except Tawny) – optional – add extra tin of tomatoes when leaving out alcohol.
2 tbsp tomato puree
1/2tsp Celery Seeds
3/4tsp Fennel Seeds – I use Bart spices
Handful of fresh parsley chopped and added after serving
Freshly Ground Black Pepper to season.
Note: Having made this dish many times, it has never needed the addition of salt.
Method: Preheat oven to 180C/160C fan, gas mark 4, 350F.
Assembling the casserole
- First of all place the onion, aubergine and sausages in the casserole dish Andrew pour over the red wine or Port.
- Add both tins of tomatoes, then half fill each tin with cold water, swirl around so that you get all of the tomato juices left inside the tin and pour over the casserole.
- Next tip in the baked beans and swirl the tin with water as before, pouring into the dish, then add the rinsed butter beans.
- Add the tomato purée, minced garlic, chilli, celery seeds, fennel seeds and a good grinding of black pepper
- If needed add more cold water until all the ingredients are just covered with liquid. Making sure there is still a good inch between the liquid and the top of the casserole dish.
- Place the lid (or cover tightly with tin foil) on to the dish and place in the oven.
- Cook at 180C for 1/2 hour then reduce the heat to 140C/120C fan, gas mark 1, 275F, or a very low oven temperature.
- Leave to cook for 3 hours. Check and top up with recently boiled water so that the ingredients are just covered with liquid again.
- Clamp on the lid (or foil) and return to the oven for 2 more hours. You can repeat the liquid adding throughout the day, the longer this casserole cooks the better it tastes!
- The Spicy Sausage Bean Casserole will be cooked after 5 1/2 hours.
- Serve in bowls, sprinkled with freshly chopped parsley for fresh, grassy, Vitamin C filled flavour.
Finally, ladle into bowls and serve with fresh crusty bread for dunking in the spicy juices.
Leftovers can be chilled, portioned into individual freezer bags and frozen for up to 3 months.
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I have wonderful memories attached to making this meal. While on holiday in Devon I wanted to make a meal for friends. As I began cooking dinner for our hosts more people being added to the guest list during the day. So, I added extra beans, tomatoes and wine, we sat happily around their big oak table, enjoying good food and most importantly, great company. Friendships were forged as the conversation flowed. And, it became a feast to remember.
Whatever you are making, baking and creating in your kitchens, have fun preparing your feast.
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