This traditionally rich, slow-cooked, French casserole is made healthier with lean gammon steak and pork shoulder for a hearty, warming meal
- 500g dried haricot beans
- 7 garlic cloves
- 5 thyme sprigs
- 3 rosemary sprigs
- 200g smoked gammon steak, rind and fat removed
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 large carrot (200g total weight), chopped into 1cm pieces
- 2 tsp butter
- 500g pork shoulder, diced into 4-5cm pieces, any excess fat trimmed
- 125ml white wine
- 230g can plum tomatoes
- 3 Toulouse sausages
- 25g panko or coarse dried breadcrumbs
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
- 2 tsp rapeseed oil
MethodPour over 3 times their volume of water so they are well covered, as they will soak up a lot. Cover with cling film and leave to soak overnight.
- 4 tbsp golden caster sugar
- 1 tbsp custard powder
- 1 tbsp cornflour
- 200ml semi-skimmed milk
- 2 large egg yolks
- 125ml single cream
- 1 vanilla pod
- 140g half-fat crème fraîche
- Stir 2 tbsp of the sugar, the custard powder and cornflour in a medium bowl with 2 tbsp of the milk to make a smooth paste. Beat in the egg yolks with a fork until well combined. Pour the remaining milk into a pan, preferably non-stick, then pour in the cream. Slit the vanilla pod lengthways and scrape the seeds into the milk. Drop the pod into the pan and bring the creamy milk just to the boil – as soon as you see a few bubbles rising to the surface, remove from the heat.
- Slowly pour and stir the hot milk into the cornflour mix, including the vanilla pod, making sure the yolks are well blended in. Transfer to a clean pan. Cook over a low heat, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon, for about 15-20 mins until the mixture is very thick – when you drag the spoon across the bottom of the pan, it should leave a clean line. It should be much thicker after about 10 mins, but keep stirring until the mixture has thickened sufficiently to look like softly whipped cream or mayonnaise. Keep adjusting the heat so that the mixture does not come to the boil or overheat, as it may curdle and become lumpy. If this happens, beat the mixture smooth with a wire whisk.
- Remove from the heat, transfer to a bowl and leave to cool for 15-20 mins, stirring occasionally to prevent a skin from forming. Remove the vanilla pod. Stir in the crème fraîche and divide the mixture between 4 small ramekins (about 125-150ml capacity each). Spread the mixtures level, then chill, uncovered, overnight. By not covering them, a thin skin can form on top of the brûlées, which will help support the caramel layer.
- Before serving, spoon the remaining sugar over the top of each brûlée (allow 1½ tsp per ramekin) and smooth over with the back of the spoon. To caramelise, use a blowtorch. Hold the flame just above the sugar and keep it moving until evenly caramelised (don’t take too long or you will heat up the custard too much). If the custard looks as though it has softened slightly, put the ramekins in the fridge for 5-10 mins to firm it up again. Serve while the caramel is still brittle.
- 100g couscous
- 2 carrots, finely grated
- 250g pack extra-lean lamb mince
- bunch spring onions, finely chopped
- 1 bunch fresh mint, finely chopped
- 1 egg, beaten
- rocket leaves and raita or natural yogurt, to serve
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 750g sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chips
- 1-2 tsp smoked paprika
- Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. For the chips, pour the oil into a shallow, non-stick roasting tin and heat in the oven. Add sweet potatoes, stir around until coated with oil, then roast for 25 mins. Add paprika, shake to coat, then roast for 10 mins more until cooked through.
- Meanwhile, make the burgers. Place the couscous in a heatproof bowl and pour over 100ml boiling water. Leave for a couple of mins until all the liquid has been absorbed. Squeeze any liquid out of the carrots, then stir into the couscous along with the mince, spring onions, mint and egg. Season well.
- Shape the mixture into 4 large burgers. Transfer to a non-stick baking sheet, then cook in the oven for 20 mins until browned and cooked right through. Alternatively, grill under a high heat (or on the barbecue, if the weather is nice enough) for 6-8 mins on each side.
- Divide the chips between 4 plates and place a burger on each plate. Serve with a plain leaf salad such as rocket alongside and some raita or yogurt spooned over, if you like.
- 2 celery sticks, finely chopped
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 8 garlic cloves, unpeeled
- 8 Toulouse sausages
- 400g whole piece of smoked streaky bacon or pancetta
- 2 generous glasses of red wine
- 600g good-quality chopped canned Italian tomatoes
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 thyme sprigs
- 2 x 400g cans white haricot beans or cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 50g fine white breadcrumbs
- a little chopped parsley to serve
- 4 x 500g jars goose fat (it sounds a lot, but you can re-use it again and again)
- 8 pheasant legs, bone in
- 10 black peppercorns
- Locate your heaviest deep pan (with a lid) and put it over a low heat. Add 2 tbsp of the goose fat. Soften the celery, onions and garlic cloves, then add the sausages and brown them all for about 10-15 mins (you may have to turn the heat up a bit).
- Remove the rind from the bacon and cut the bacon into 8 square chunks. Add the bacon and rind to the pot and pour in the red wine and tomatoes; I like to put the smoked rind in for flavour then pick it out later. Add the bay leaf and thyme, cover and simmer very slowly for 3 hrs.
- While the base is cooking, prepare the confit. This could also be done well in advance, since it keeps so well. Heat oven to 150C/130C fan/gas 2 and season the pheasant legs well with sea salt and pepper. Pack these together tightly into an ovenproof casserole and cover with the goose fat. Add the peppercorns and cook for 2½ hrs, until the pheasant is tender. Remove the legs carefully from the hot fat and drain on a rack above a roasting tray. Increase the oven temp to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. If you are making these ahead, cool and store in the fat in the fridge. To serve, heat gently to melt so you can lift out the legs.
- To finish, tip the sausage mix into an ovenproof dish, stir in the beans with some seasoning and sit the pheasant legs on top. Sprinkle the whole thing with breadcrumbs and bake for 30 mins until golden. Scatter with parsley to serve.