You can substitute bite-size pieces of other freshly cooked or leftover meats or poultry—such as rotisserie chicken, roast beef or lamb, or grilled steak—for the sausages. Heat them in the fry pan along with the beans.
- 1 1/2 lb. pork sausages
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- 5 thick-cut bacon slices, chopped
- 4 cups cooked white beans
- 1 fresh thyme sprig
- 1 can (14 1/2 oz.) diced plum tomatoes
- 1 1/2 tsp. sugar
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
- 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
Cook the sausages
Slit each sausage diagonally several times on each side. In a fry pan over medium heat, warm 1 Tbs. of the olive oil. Add the sausages and cook, turning once, until browned on the outside and cooked through, about 10 minutes total. Transfer to a cutting board.
Prepare the beans
In a separate large fry pan over medium heat, warm the remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil. Add the bacon and sauté until it starts to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain off all but 2 Tbs. of the bacon fat. Stir in the beans, thyme, tomatoes and sugar. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently, until the beans are heated through, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Bake the cassoulet
Cut the sausages crosswise into bite-size pieces. Butter a 3-quart ovenproof pan or gratin dish and distribute the sausages evenly in the pan. Spoon the bean mixture over the sausages, removing and discarding the thyme sprig. Spread the bread crumbs evenly on top and drizzle with the melted butter. Bake until the beans are bubbly and the crumb topping is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool slightly, then serve. Serves 4 to 6.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast Series, Slow Cooker, by Norman Kolpas (Oxmoor House, 2007).