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I just had to do it

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Here it is almost the middle of summer, and I am enjoying a dish that should be cooked in the snappy air of winter. Having taken the kids to the fair, all I could smell was sausages, simmering inside that crispy, grilled casing and the aroma of spices just beckoning me. I didn't end up getting a sausage for the first time in eons, but I did bring my appetite for sausages home with me. It wasn't terribly hot out so I ran to Bean's and got some chicken sausage, stopped at the store and picked up the rest, and I was in my glory making

White beans and sausage

Classically called cassoulet, this dish is hearty, warming and very inviting when it is cooking. I would have ordinarily used chorizo sausage with this dish, but I love being different and using what I had. By all means, use chorizo, Italian, kielbasa or whatever trips your trigger. As for the beans, substitute fava, cannellini, navy, yellow eyed, whatever you want.

  • 1 lb. dried navy beans, soaked overnight
  • 1/2 lb. bacon, chopped
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 2 t. minced garlic in oil
  • Bay leaf
  • Olive oil
  • 1 lb. chicken sausage, cut into 1/4-inch slices*
  • 1/2 t. red pepper flakes, or more to taste
  • Chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 T. tomato paste

Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring often, until the fat has rendered and the meaty bits are crisp, about 3-4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels. Add the sausage and sear until lightly browned, 5-7 minutes. Transfer to paper towel lined plate.

Pour off all but 3 tablespoons of fat from the pot. Or, if the pot is dry, drizzle in some oil. Add the onions and bay leaf and cook, stirring frequently, until deeply golden brown, 5 minutes; adjust the heat as necessary to prevent the onions from burning. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Drain the beans and dump them into the pot, along with the sausage and red pepper flakes and 3 1/2 cups of chicken broth. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and let simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender. Begin checking at 45 minutes, but it may take as long as 1 1/2 hours , depending on your beans - add more chicken broth if needed. Fish out and toss the bay leaf. Stir in the tomato paste and bacon and simmer for 10 minutes to thicken the cooking liquid. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Let the beans sit uncovered for 10 minutes to absorb any excess liquid.

*or leave sausages whole

And that, my friends, is dinner.

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