I have been craving Cassoulet all winter, but was loath to go to the effort and expense of making it myself. My mother's recent phone call, during the course of which she casually announced that she was going to make baked beans when we got off the phone, sent me over the edge to long and slow cooked bean action.
Though I did not have access to all the fatty meaty goodness that makes cassoulet so delectable, I did have Cassoulet beans - Tarbais beans - on hand and quantities of ground Linguica in the freezer. I was pretty sure that something good would come of combining the two, but I did not expect a dish this easy to be as delicious as it was.
I made four portions worth of this, planning to have a few end up as freezer fodder for future meals. None made it there.
8 oz dry Tarbais beans, or Navy beans if you don't have access to Cassoulet beans
1/3 lb ground Linguica, Chorizo or your favorite sausage meat
1 small white onion, peeled and diced
1 pint tomato sauce, I used homemade but jarred is fine and, if so, I recommend Rao's
1 tsp hot paprika
1/2 tsp dried sage
1 tsp olive oil
Salt, white pepper, and harissa or your favorite hot sauce to taste
Water as needed
Rehydrate the beans overnight by covering them generously with water or, as I did, cover them with boiling water when making your morning coffee and let them sit for a couple of minutes. I add some salt to the bean water.
Place an oven safe pan on the hob over low heat. Add the olive oil, diced onion, the sage and some salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are caramelized. This took about ten minutes. You may need to add a splash of water if the onions start to stick to the bottom of the pan before they have become glossy and golden brown.
As soon as the onions are a lovely caramelized color, stir in the ground sausage meat and cook through until starting to crisp up. This should only take a couple of minutes.
Preheat the oven to 300.
Remove the pan from the heat and add the rest of the ingredients. Stir well to combine before covering and placing in the oven.
Bake for three hours. Check on the hour and stir up the ingredients to combine. If the beans seem to have absorbed more of the tomato sauce than expected and are getting dry, add some water, no more than a third of a cup at a time.
When the beans are done, check for seasoning -- adding more salt or hot sauce if needed -- and then pile high on toast and dig in.