Recently I chanced upon a wonderful butcher in the town of Leiden where I currently reside. They do things the old fashioned way; with weighted scales, vast butcher blocks for cutting, meat hanging from aggressive hooks and an air of timelessness dating back several decades. Of course, I love it. Mind you, it helps that the quality of the produce is far away some of the very best that I have ever enjoyed.

heaven on a pig hook …

Yesterday I noticed that they had some big and very fat pork sausages. I immediately purchased a few as they are hard to find outside Italy. Most pork sausages are long and thin, designed for quick barbecues and the like. But the fat torpedo bombers are what you need for one of my favorite dishes to prepare on a cold and wet Sunday afternoon.

Italian sausage and bean casserole.

The good news is that it’s easy to prepare. The really good news is that it has to bubble away for 4 hours. Don’t be tempted to ruin the dish by preparing it in a pressure cooker. This dish is made by the long and slow process, as is most great cooking. Plus you get the added bonus of having the cooking smells waft through the house all afternoon as you consume rather too much red wine, (or maybe that’s just me.)

Either way, this is a dish to brighten those dark November days. And so simple, even Clarey could manage it.

500g cannellini beans, (2 tins).

Extra virgin olive oil

4 large pork sausages

6 rashes of top quality bacon cut nice and thick, sliced into 6cm lengths.

4 small onions quartered top to bottom

8 whole garlic cloves, peeled.

3 long and thin carrots, peeled and cut into 3cm sections, (slightly bigger than you normally would cut them).

3 bay leaves.

Some fresh sprigs of oregano.

1 red chili, deseeded.

500ml fresh chicken stock that you made yourself and which was sitting in your freezer ready for a momentous occasion such as this.

2 tablespoons of tomato paste.

You need a good sized pot for this one, large and low. Splash some olive oil around and fry the sausages for about 5 minutes until lightly browned. Remove and reserve.

Take the pot off the heat and layer the bacon over the base of the pot. Add the onions, garlic and carrots and season well with cracked black pepper. Put the sausages on top and then add the bay leaves, oregano and chili. Cover with the beans.

Mix the stock and tomato paste together and then pour over the other ingredients. The contents won’t be covered with the liquid at this stage. Season with salt and pepper, cover and cook for 4 hours over a low heat. Give the pot a gentle stir every 45 minutes or so. If the liquid level remains below the beans after about 1 hour, top it up with some hot water.

Once ready taste for seasoning.

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