Spring Sausage Casserole with rice
This sausage casserole is a great spring dish as it has the light and fresh flavours you want now that the days are getting warmer but also the comfort you need for those spring days that remind you that winter wasn’t all that long ago. I’ve also included my fool proof method for cooking rice in this post because, even though it’s a topic everyone likes to have their own very specific advice on, it also seems to be something that causes a lot people a lot of problems.
six high quality pork sausages
three rashers of bacon, sliced
half a leek, sliced thinly
two cloves of garlic, crushed
tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
half a fresh chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
150ml chicken or vegetable stock
dessert spoon of dried mixed herbs
100ml white wine
one and a half cups of basmati rice
salt and pepper
400g tin of butter beans
heaped teaspoon of arrowroot or cornflour if needed
Gently heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large saucepan, which has a lid for cooking the casserole later on, over a medium heat. Fry the sausages gently for around ten minutes, regularly turning them to get an even golden brown colour all over and then set them aside on a plate. Browning the sausages before casseroling them gives the dish more flavour and the golden colour on them makes the dish look a lot more appetising.
Add the bacon and fry until golden brown and slightly crisp, adding a little more oil if the bacon starts to stick, and then set aside with the sausages. Don’t worry about any residue building up on the bottom of the saucepan as this will get deglazed and will help to give colour and flavour to the dish.
Next, add the leeks to the saucepan and fry over a gentle to moderate heat until the leeks soften. Add the crushed garlic and rosemary and continue to cook for a further two to three minutes and then add the chopped fresh chilli, and cook for another thirty seconds.
Now turn up the heat and add the stock. Turning up the heat and stirring with a wooden spoon will deglaze the pan, which removes any bits of caramelised sausage and bacon stuck to the bottom of the pan. These caramelised bits are packed with flavour and deglazing will incorporate all this flavour into the sausage casserole.
Once you have deglazed the pan, add the mixed herbs and wine and bring to a simmer. Next, add the sausages and bacon, bring back up to a gently simmer and lightly cover the saucepan with its lid. Gently simmer the casserole for about twenty minutes, stirring occasionally.
Cooking rice strikes fear into the hearts of many but I have always used my Mom’s fool proof method, which does seem to work well every time and gives nice a fluffy rice. Boil a kettle of water. Meanwhile, heat a dessert spoon of oil in a large saucepan with a lid and then add the rice, with a teaspoon of salt. Stir the rice around for a few minutes so that the grains become slicked the warm oil and then add in three cups of boiling water. Bring the rice up to the boil, give it a stir. As soon as the rice comes to the boil, place on the saucepan lid and turn the heat right down as low as it will go, and then leave the rice alone and allow it to gently simmer the rice for thirteen minutes.
Finally, add the drained beans into the casserole and cook for another ten minutes, again occasionally stirring. You want the finished casserole to have a reasonable thick sauce that coats all the ingredients in the dish, so if the stock is looking a little thin at this stage, simmer the casserole uncovered for the last ten minutes of cooking and stir quite often.
If you want a more thick sauce, then you can always thicken it with a little arrowroot or cornflour. You should never add arrowroot or cornflour straight into hot liquid so mix the powder with a little cold water to make a loose paste. This is called slaking. Add the slaked arrowroot or cornflour to the dish and simmer it for around five minutes or until the sauce thickens, stirring gently to avoid breaking up the butter beans.
Season the casserole with salt and pepper and then check on the rice, using a fork to fluff the rice. There shouldn’t be any water left in the bottom of the pan, and the rice grains should be fairly dry and loose. If there is any water left in the pan, then place the lid back on and cook the rice for another couple of minutes. Serve the casserole with the cooked rice and a large glass of the white wine.