Sausage & bean winter casserole

It’s supposed to be spring but it’s still absolutely freezing outside so I’m resorting to cooking casseroles to keep me warm. From a food waste perspective casseroles are an absolute dream; it’s a dish that you can produce by mixing the simplest ingredients together and turn into something tasty by throwing in a few store cupboard essentials such as stock cubes, tomato sauce or Worcester sauce.

The humble sausage is the main basis for this meal, a cheap and tasty ingredient that can be used to create a hearty protein filled evening meal. A lot of the other ingredients in this recipe were from my freezer, I needed to empty my freezer as I was moving house and this recipe enabled me to use up loads of fresh ingredients that I’d previously frozen. You can find tips on freezing fresh items here and I promise that I will do a follow up blog post soon with further tips.

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 x sausages cut into 2.5cm chunks
  • 400g pinto beans
  • 2 x sticks celery roughly chopped
  • 2 x carrots sliced
  • 1 x onion thinly sliced
  • 1 x parsnip diced
  • 8 x mushrooms cut into quarters
  • 16 x cherry tomatoes (optional)
  • 3 x cloves garlic crushed
  • 1 x red chilli finely sliced
  • 1 x tbsp olive oil
  • 1tbsp paprika
  • 400ml chicken stock
  • 100ml white wine
  • 1tbsp mixed herbs
  • 1 x bay leaf
  • Dash of Worcester sauce

METHOD

Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat.

Fry the sausages for approximately 4 minutes or until browned, remove from the pan and set aside.

Add the onion and celery to the pan and cook until the onions start to soften.

Add the crushed garlic and sliced red chilli and cook for 1 minute before adding the paprika, stir well so that all the ingredients are covered in the spice and cook for a further minute.

Add the white wine or a splash of stock to the pot and scrape the pan with a wooden spoon, turn up the heat and bring the casserole to the boil, continue to cook until the liquid has reduced by half.

Add all the remaining vegetables to the pan, bring back to the boil and cook for 3 minutes before returning the sausages to the pan.

If using, add the cherry tomatoes to the pan along with the stock, Worcester sauce and seasoning. Bring to the boil before reducing to a simmer, cover with a lid and cook for 40 minutes, adding more stock if needed.

Finally remove the lid, add the pinto beans and cook uncovered for 10 minutes, serve with crusty bread.

TIPS

If you prefer a thicker sauce add a tbsp of flour towards the end, or more if required.

Substitute the vegetables for any others that you need to use up.

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Pork & Potato Broth

In my previous post No Shop Week,’ I promised to write up the recipe for this dish which was made solely from left over vegetables, frozen items and stock cupboard items…no supermarket visit involved. This recipe is a great example of how knowing the base of a few simple dishes can really help to reduce food waste.

The perishable ingredients that I had to use up were:

Celery

Potato

Carrots

Onions

Ingredients in the freezer included:

Pork mince

And store cupboard essentials that I had in stock were:

Vegetable stock

Worcester sauce

Chilli sauce

Ketchup

Garlic

The idea for this recipe came from my hate of celery. I’m really not a fan of raw celery, in my opinion, anything that contains less calories than it takes to eat isn’t a food. The only time I ever use celery is in stews and soups, which are conveniently both fantastic recipe ideas for using up leftover veg.

Now I could have cooked a simple soup out of my leftovers and for you vegetarians out there, feel free to adapt this recipe by leaving out the pork, or if a thicker blended soup is more your bag, throw in a few extra potatoes and blend before serving.

Anyhow, back to the pork…

I know how long most veg takes to cook, and this is what dictated the order of which they were added into the pan, so if you’re using different vegetables, follow this methodology to work out your timings.

For this specific recipe though, here we go with the method:

  • Heat 1 tbsp oil and fry onions for 2-3 mins until soft
  • Add pork and fry for 4-5 mins or until browned
  • Add chopped celery and fry for a further 2 mins
  • Drain off some the fat from the pork, this will avoid a scum forming on top of the broth
  • Add stock (see notes) and bring to boil. Once boiling reduce to a simmer, add diced potatoes and cook for 5-7 mins
  • Once the potatoes start to soften add in the chopped carrots and continue to simmer for a further 3 mins
  • Finally add Worcester sauce, ketchup and seasoning to taste

Tip

If you don’t like your vegetables quite as al dente as me, feel free to keep simmering until they are cooked to your liking.

And that’s it, a quick simple broth from leftovers.

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In terms of the measurements I was unsure how much stock to use. 250 ml per portion sounded like a reasonable amount and I wanted 4 portions so I made up 1 litre of stock.  When I came to add this to the meat, it just felt like too much so I reckon only about 800ml went in.

The trick with inventing dishes and also when following other peoples recipes, is to follow both your instinct and your taste buds. Don’t be afraid of messing up dishes by adding too much of an ingredient or diverging away from a recipe. If you’re unsure of how much of a particular ingredient you should add, start with a smaller quantity and keep adding until you’re happy. In this instance I started with 1 tbsp of both ketchup and Worcester sauce and continued until I was happy with the flavour. In total about 2 tbsp of ketchup and 1.5 tbsp of Worcester sauce went in.

I mentioned in my “No Shop Week” blog, that knowing a few basic recipe bases & tips will help with inventing dishes. My tip to take away from this recipe is that adding ketchup and Worcester sauce to casseroles and soups is a great way to add flavour without having to buy any extravagant sauce mixes.

Believe it or not, Ketchup is a fantastic ingredient to sweeten up dishes, Worcester sauce adds a bit more depth to stocks and stews with its unusual and unique taste, and although not used in this recipe; if you like things spicy, Tabasco/chilli sauce is an easy way to add a bit of a kick to recipes.