Fabulous Family Food for Friday!
Butter Me Up
Butter Bean and Bacon Cassoulet
Later on today I will be opening the second window in my Advent Calendar and there will be another seasonal treat, toy or book to reveal, but, for now it’s Friday and I have a really comforting family meal to share. What makes a family meal? I think the components are simple, a meal that appeals to all ages and that brings the family together at the meal table; a simple meal that mum (or dad) can prepare ahead of time and pop in the oven, or a meal that can be cooked quickly at the last minute. A healthy meal too ~ with the occasional treat of course. One pot meals are always popular, as all of the family can help themselves right at the table without the “dishing up” and moving plates around fiasco! A one pot meal that has vegetables and/or pulses in it is an added bonus as the “five a day” necessity is fulfilled.
Such is this meal, a favourite in my home and packed full of flavour. It uses tinned butter beans for convenience and is wonderful when served with crusty bread and a platter of seasonal salad leaves. This recipe is a delicious combination of butter beans baked au gratin with crisp bacon, onions and thyme – all bound in a tomato, crème fraiche and wine sauce; if you are concerned about the wine being in the dish for the little ones, just omit it and add some vegetable stock instead. And, if you are vegetarian, just leave the bacon out of the equation. This should also be known as “Fragrant Savoury Room Scenter” ~ as the smell as this cooks is divine, and will bring all the family to the table in a flash, no need for repeat “dinner’s ready” calls!
This recipe is real European fusion cuisine ~ the cassoulet idea coming from France, with the parmesan and wine sauce from Italy, and the crispy smoked bacon rashers from England. This will serve 2 adults and 2 small children or 3 adults as a main supper dish with bread and salad. You can also serve this as and accompaniment to sausages, stews, casseroles or roast meats……..and the bacon can be left out if it is to be served this way.
You can of course use dried butter beans, but you must make sure that they are soaked overnight and cooked thoroughly before adding them to this dish. I find the tinned ones so handy to use and always have a couple of tins tucked away in the pantry ~ BUT do watch for added sugar and salt. Butter beans are part of the pulse family and have health benefits that make them very suitable for the family table; pulses count towards you “five a day” and are a good source of iron as well as providing protein and fibre. The fibre that is found in pulses may help lower blood cholesterol, so they are good for your heart ~ all in all they make a tasty and very healthy addition to your family recipes.
I hope you try this recipe and enjoy it as much as we do……another way we like to serve this, is with garlic bread for a really hearty winter tea time meal………I just remembered that, it is my daughter’s favourite supper dish and she always asks for the garlic bread accompaniment option!
See you later today with my Advent Calendar…….
Butter Bean and Bacon Cassoulet
- 200g smoked bacon, rashers cut into pieces or 200g smoked lardons
- 2 onions, peeled and sliced thickly
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 (400g) cans butter beans, drained
- 4 tablespoons creme fraiche
- 2 tablespoons tomato puree
- 100ml red wine, or 100ml vegetable stock
- 1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
- salt and pepper
- olive oil
- 4 tablespoons fresh breadcrumbs
- 4 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon dried garlic granules or 1 ~ 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced finely
- 2 tomatoes, sliced thinly
- salt and pepper
- Pre-heat the oven to 200C/400°F. Lightly grease an ovenproof gratin dish with a little olive oil.
- Topping: Mix the breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese and garlic together. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Set aside.
- Cassoulet: Fry the bacon pieces in a large frying pan until crisp. Take the bacon pieces out and add the chopped onions – fry them gently in the bacon fat until the onion is soft but not coloured. Add the fresh thyme leaves and mix through.
- Add the bacon to the onion and thyme mixture and then gently mix the butter beans through the mixture.
- In a large bowl, add the crème fraiche, tomato paste, wine and sugar ~ mix thoroughly. Season with pepper and a little salt, as the bacon is already quite salty.
- Add the bacon and butter bean mixture to the crème fraiche and wine sauce ~ mix gently.
- Transfer all the butter bean mixture to the greased gratin dish. Sprinkle the topping over evenly and place the sliced tomatoes on top in an attractive pattern.
- Bake for about 30 minutes or until the cassoulet is bubbling and the topping is a golden brown.
- Serve immediately with a large bowl of salad and crusty bread, or, as an accompaniment for sausages, roast meat and poultry, casseroles, stews or grilled meat.