This is a busy time of year for everyone, especially those of us who have full-time jobs, but for whom it’s still important to fit in a decent home-cooked meal. This little beauty is warming, packed full of veg and it’s a slow cooker: once it’s going you can just leave it bubbling away til it’s ready. Prepare in the early evening if you want to eat at about 8, or prepare in the afternoon for an early Sunday supper and kick back with a Christmas film in between.
To feed 2, you will need:
3 rashers of smoked bacon (you can use more or less, I just had that amount to use up)
6 good pork sausages from the butcher
2 cloves garlic
2 medium carrots
1 red pepper
2 cans plum tomatoes
1 Knorr Chicken stock cube
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp mild chilli powder
Salt and pepper
A few sprigs fresh thyme (or dried)
A dash of Worcestershire sauce
1 can cannellini beans
Dash olive oil
1 Knorr beef stock pot, optional but delightful
1. Add a little olive oil to the bottom of a casserole or stock pot. If you don’t have either, do this in your biggest frying pan or saucepan, but transfer to an ovenproof casserole dish once everything is combined and pop it in the oven at 170C instead of leaving it on the hob. Once hot, fry off the bacon then remove and set-aside.
2. Repeat with the sausages. Don’t worry if the base starts to blacken if you’re using a cast-iron casserole dish – it’ll de-glaze later. Once the sausages have bren browned on all sides, remove and set them aside with the bacon.
3. Whilst there’s a whole lotta browning going on, chop the vegetables. I go relatively fine with the carrots and little chunkier than usual with the onions as they’ll gradually break down in the sauce.
4. If necessary, add a little more oil to the casserole, then chuck in the onion and pepper and let them caramelise down a bit. Grate in the garlic and throw in the carrots. Give that a few stirs, and allow it to cook out for a few minutes.
6. Dissolve a chicken stock cube in a little water (around half a can’s worth) in one of the used tomato cans. I like to swill it around in both before pouring a little into the sauce. Set the rest aside as you may need it to thin out the sauce a little more later.
7. Throw in the herbs, spices, beef stock pot and seasoning and stir well, turning the heat down to a simmer.
8. Chop up the bacon and add it back in (I remove any remaining far from the bacon at this stage) then place the sausages into the sauce. They should still be quite firm, but just try to be careful when stirring things up to avoid breaking up the sausages. If you’re using a dish in the oven, place the sausages into the dish at this stage, finish making the sauce and then combine it all in the dish, before covering with a lid or foil and sliding it into the oven.
10. Put the fresh thyme on top and stick the lid on. Now you can walk away from it, checking on it every half hour or so (when you make another cup of tea or top up your wine glass), give it a stir and add a little more stock if it’s getting too thick.