Hey! I’m back. Now that THAT’S dealt with, on to the food.
This recipe doesn’t have a name. I call it “That Sausage and Bean Stuff”. It has overtones of eastern European stews, Indian curries, and Creole jambalayas without really being any of those things. It’s sweet, spicy, sour, smoky, and intense. It’s a regular weeknight supper around here, and it’s delicious.
I used to make this with Mattesons smoked sausage. Yes, I know, it’s kind of gross. So are hot dogs and we still eat those. However, I recently discovered Polish country sausage, or Wiejska Kielbasa. So good in dishes like this, also good just sliced and served with bread and mustard. If you can’t make it to a market or to one of the many Polish groceries that have popped up in the last few years for your Kielbasa, they sell a pretty decent version at the deli counter in Morrison’s. It has a tough-yet-papery casing that you might want to peel or cut off as it can be hard or impossible to chew. I don’t mind working through it or just picking it out (it tends to come loose from the sausage in tight spirals during cooking) but you may feel differently.
This dish is still delicious – and completely vegan – without any sausage at all, or with a tin of chickpeas in place of the sausage.
*A note on ingredients – please, please don’t skimp on your tinned tomatoes. Get a good, Italian brand – I like Napolina. Cheaper brands use cheap, yellowish, unripe tomatoes. Napolina toms are expensive but you can often get them half-price if you keep an eye out. Get whole plum tomatoes instead of chopped, as well. The best, most attractive tomatoes are used for the whole plum tomatoes, the ugly lower-quality toms get chopped up. It’s a piece of cake to break the whole plum tomatoes up with a fork when you add them to a dish.
Sausage and Bean Stuff – serves two extremely greedy people or four regular people
- 1 red onion
- 1 bell pepper
- 1 courgette
- 5-6 fat mushrooms
- Salt to taste
- 6-8 inch piece of Wiejska Kielbasa (the one you’re looking for is dark red on the outside, horseshoe shaped, and 1.5 to 2 inches in diameter), or a Mattesons smoked sausage if you’re gross like I used to be.
- 1/2 tablespoon whole cumin seeds
- Chili flakes to taste
- 1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika (optional, the sausage is plenty smokey but I love as much smoke as possible)
- 2-3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 1 tin good quality plum tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard
- 2 good tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 1 tomato tin full of water
- 1 tablespoon cider or red wine vinegar
- 1 tin red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- Plenty of black pepper
So this isn’t rocket surgery- roughly chop the veg and cook in a little oil with a good dose of salt until it just starts to go soft. Throw in the sausage, which you will have cut into coins or half -moon shapes. When things start to get a little brown around the edges, add in the dry spices and stir til fragrant. Add in the garlic, stir for a moment or two, and add in the tomatoes before it starts to burn. Break them up with a fork or the edge of your cooking spoon (you did use whole plum tomatoes, right?) and then add in the rest of the ingredients. Bring it up to a simmer and taste – does it need more sugar? More salt? More heat? More vinegar? More anything? This is a great dish for practicing your flavour-adjusting skills. When you get it just right, let it simmer for 20 minutes or so until it’s nice and thick but still saucy, and serve over plain white rice.