I am many things, and quite possibly near the top of that list is cassoulet lover.
Cassoulet calls to me, especially now that the sun declines to linger in the evenings and there is a crisp chill in the air. For me, cassoulet is one of those beautiful things in this world that is far more than the sum of its parts. Traditionally, cassoulet is a multi-day process but this recipe promises a satisfying and complex result in only 30 minutes. What could be better than a cozy pan of creamy beans, dotted with sausage, and blanketed with a crisp, golden crust? What!? Exactly, nothing.
Flavourful sausage is important to this dish! Please please please get the best sausage that you can find. If at the end you find the cassoulet is a little bland, you likely need more salt and or vinegar. I don't recommend butterbeans in this recipe, they're a bit too overpowering.
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 sweet or hot Italian sausages (about 1 pound total)
1 onion (any color), chopped
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
Two (15.5-ounce) cans cannellini or white northern beans (undrained)
1 cup water
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 cup panko, coarse fresh bread crumbs, or cracker crumbs
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Prick sausages all over with the tip of a knife. Add the sausages to the skillet and cook, turning occasionally, until brown all over, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board.
Add onion, celery, and garlic to the skillet and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add beans and their liquid, the water, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer. Slice sausages and return to the skillet. Stir in the vinegar and remove from heat.
Preheat broiler with rack in the top position. In a small bowl, stir panko, parsley, and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Season the bread crumbs with a little salt and pepper and scatter over beans and sausage. Transfer the skillet to the oven and broil (watch carefully! Broilers vary like crazy) until the top is golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.