It’s that time of year, so break out the beans

A tasty, filling and cost-effective meal to help you save for the Christmas splurge

Sausage and bean casserole

Sausage and bean casserole

 

At this time of year, we need something tasty, filling and cost-effective for dinner. It’s time to break out the beans. Beans and sausages go together so well and can be served in so many different guises, from the full Irish breakfast to this delicious one-pot supper that all the family will love.

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November is Food Month in The Irish Times, with food-related articles in all our sections, plus reader events, competitions and exclusive content at irishtimes.com/foodmonth

I always have tinned beans in the cupboard and any variety will work well here; butter beans, little pinto beans or even add a little cumin and serve with kidney or black beans and slices of butter avocado on top. Some crusty white bread is a must for mopping up all of the delicious sauce.

I usually have chorizo in the fridge for adding oomph to dishes such as this. The rich-flavoured oils released during cooking will ensure the entire pot of beans tastes amazing. This freezes well, too, and is very handy to have in portion-sized pots for serving on toast. It makes a decadent, filling breakfast.

This time of year we need to minimise costs as we budget for Christmas. So a few changes in the kitchen can make all the difference. I’m popping any leftover bread into the freezer for breadcrumbs to make stuffing. It’s also worth buying dried beans in bulk and cooking them. You can then freeze them in portions if you do have the space. Still on the festive season, any leftover turkey is perfect for adding to this dish. It can be transformed into a Christmas cassoulet with a delicious mixture of brown turkey meat, with half the amount of sausages, topped with a layer of breadcrumbs for perfect St Stephen’s Day comfort food.

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Sweet Italian or spiced Mediterranean sausages are perfect for this dish. Garlic and herb would be ideal, too. The extra flavours in the sausages really add to the overall taste. I am always that person in the supermarket reading the back of packs in the aisles, and it is amazing the difference in ingredients, especially when it comes to something like sausages. They are not all created equal, with pork content ranging from 60-96 per cent, so it worth a few minutes taking note.

SAUSAGE AND BEAN CASSEROLE

Serves 4-6

2tbs olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 yellow pepper, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
200g chorizo, roughly chopped
600g good quality pork sausages
1tsp smoked paprika
1tbs finely chopped thyme
150ml stock or water
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
1 x tin butter beans, drained
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-based pan. Sauté the onion for five minutes over a medium heat until softened before adding the garlic and chopped pepper. Stir well to combine and place the lid on, leaving to cook for a further five minutes before adding the chorizo. Increase the heat a little to encourage the chorizo to cook. Once everything is richly coloured, transfer to a bowl. Add another splash of oil to the pan and fry the sausages for a few minutes to give them a little colour. Return the vegetables and chorizo to the pan along with the paprika, stock, thyme and tinned tomatoes. Simmer for 40 minutes.

Add the tinned butter beans and cook for a further 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning, adding salt and black pepper as necessary. Divide between the serving bowls and top with the chopped parsley. Serve right away.

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