Lamb and bean casserole
This slow-cooked lamb recipe is great for lazy weekends, and the rich bean stew cassoulet is full of rustic French flavours.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 6 lamb shanks
- 200g (7oz) good streaky bacon, rashers halved
- 3 large onions, peeled and cut into wedges
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- 3 rosemary sprigs
- 3 tablespoons tomato purée
- 3 bay leaves
- 3 thyme sprigs
- 300ml (½ pint) dry white wine
- 900ml (1½ pints) hot lamb or chicken stock
- 6 Toulouse-style sausages
- 2 x 400g cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- Knob of butter
- About 60g (2oz) fresh breadcrumbs
- 1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- Set the oven to Gas Mark 3 or 160°C. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large pan, add the lamb shanks, 3 at a time, and brown them all over, as best you can. Remove and put into a large roasting tin.
- Add bacon to the pan and cook for a few minutes, then add the rest of the oil, the onion, garlic and rosemary, and cook for 5 minutes. Add tomato purée, bay and thyme and, after a minute, add wine and simmer until reduced by half. Pour in stock and bring to the boil.
- Spoon mixture over lamb shanks and cover tin with foil. Cook in oven for 2½ hours until lamb is falling off the bone. (Or cook in a flameproof casserole on the hob for the same length of time.)
- Leave casserole to cool for an hour or so, then take meat off bones, discarding any fat and sinew, and bones. Shred meat into chunks and put in a container. Take bacon and onion out of sauce using a draining spoon, and add to meat. Put sauce in another container. Chill overnight or until ready to reheat.
- When ready to reheat: Heat a little oil in a frying pan. Brown sausages for 10-15 minutes. Remove from pan and cut each one into 5 chunks.
- Meanwhile, spoon sauce into a large pan and reduce it by about half. Add lamb, sausage and beans, and simmer for 10 minutes or until heated through.
- For the garnish: Melt butter in a frying pan, add breadcrumbs and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring, until crisp and golden. Stir in the parsley, and scatter over the cassoulet for serving.
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