I think I've mentioned cassoulet before, if so there's an admission of a love affair I'm not shy about. This one is dead easy though, opening, a bit of frying and assembling kind of stuff. Just as long as you buy decent quality sausages you'll get a pretty good end result. At the end of the day this is peasant food, so let's not get all professional and try too hard - decent ingredients layered up with a bit of thoughtful timing and a bit of patience will pay dividends. Should you opt for the slower cooking of the last sector, run yourself a big bubble bath, pour the biggest glass of red you can, and sink into at least an hour's worth of anticipation...
4 plump spicy sausages
1 duck breast or thigh, cut into thick slices
1 tblsp olive oil
225g smoked bacon with plenty of fat, cut into large dice
1 large onion, roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tsp tomato purée
55ml red wine
400g chopped tomatoes
2 x 425g cans haricot or butter beans, drained
1 bay leaf
2 tblsp grain mustard
50g coarse breadcrumbs
In a heavy, flameproof casserole, cook the sausages and duck in the olive oil until their fat runs and the sausages and duck are golden on all sides. Scoop out the meat and set aside. Add the bacon pieces to the pan and cook in the remaining fat until golden, then add the onion and garlic.
Cook for 5 or 6 minutes until they have softened slightly then stir in the tomato purée. Cook for another minute or so then pour in the red wine.
Simmer for a minute then stir in the tomatoes, the cooked sausages and the duck. Bring to the boil, stir in the beans, bay leaf, mustard and a seasoning of salt and pepper and then cook over a medium heat at a good simmer for about 15 minutes, or pop into a medium oven for easily an hour if you have the time to kill.
Remove the pan from the heat. Scatter over the breadcrumbs and place under a hot grill, a good few inches from the heat, until golden. Serve very hot.