Sometimes I forget to post some of the easiest things I throw together. I make them so often that it doesn’t occur to me that other people don’t make them too. Or I talk myself out of posting them because they are so simple I wonder if they’ll seem a little unimaginative. After a crazy couple of weeks where I’ve had very little time to cook, I’ve found myself reaching back to some of my old simple favourites. It reminded me that actually, what most of us need, are those quick low effort dinners that can be thrown together from the store cupboard with minimal chopping or shopping.
So that’s what I give you here. You only need 3 ingredients, a pan and a pair of scissors to make this delicious stew.
This stew has evolved over the years but I’ve always made some version of it. In its simplest form it is delicious sausages (high meat content and quality, yummy seasonings), a can of tomatoes and a can of beans. That’s it. The key is that the more effort you put into buying your sausages the less effort you need put into making the stew taste delicious. That’s because your lovely butcher will have added lots of scrummy seasonings into the sausages which will, in turn, season your stew.
Here in California I always go to the Whole Foods butcher counter for their made in-house sausages. Unlike most English bangers the sausages sold here have no rusk giving a denser meatier sausage and making them suitable for anyone who is gluten-free or avoiding carbs. In England the Sainsburys Taste the Difference ones were always good. My absolute faves in London are the Italian sausages sold in I Camisa and Son on Compton Street in Soho. I have such fond memories of popping in there to stock up on my way home from an editing session back in my old life in advertising. Sometimes slightly unsteadily on my heels after a post work drink. Those days are long gone but the time pressure remains to get something yummy on the table fast.
The recipe below is for a Spanish style stew and reminds me of the albondigas I’ve had in Spain. I used chorizo sausage (uncooked but you could use a cooked one) and chick peas [garbanzo] along with the tin of tomatoes. If I need more spice I’d add some smoked paprika but the sausages I got today needed nothing. If you are faced with sausages that aren’t as highly seasoned you can just add your own spices to sort it out.
I also make a version using Italian sausages combined with cannellini [Navy] beans and the tomatoes. If the Italian stew needs more oomph I might add a teaspoon of fennel seeds, dried oregano or a sprig of rosemary.
You can also use turkey sausages if you don’t eat pork.
I serve this stew in all manner of ways:
- Piled on top of a bed of rocket [arugula]
- Messily squished into a crusty baguette along with a slippery roasted red pepper from a jar and a handful of greens (in homage to the Brindisa sandwiches at Borough Market in London).
- Stirred through pasta
- On top of a pile of cous cous, mashed potato or soft polenta
- With a soft fried or poached egg on top and toast for dunking – particularly good for a hungover brunch
Ingredients (serves 2)
Note – Try not to get caught up with the weights below, they are here just as a guide. Double, triple or quadruple the recipe to suit how many mouths you want to feed.
2 sausages – around half a lb or 250g (I used the Whole Foods fresh chorizo sausages which are whoppers so one per person is plenty)
1x 411g [14oz] can diced tomatoes, no added salt
1x 285g [10oz] can chickpeas [garbanzo beans]
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, red wine or sherry vinegar to taste
Optional – flat leaf parsley, a jar of roasted red peppers, drained and snipped into lengths; smoked paprika, a small glass of red wine
1. Using scissors (saves washing a board), snip your sausages straight into a heavy pan (I use my trusty Le Creuset). You want to have chunks that are around an inch thick, basically rings of the sausage so you will have exposed meat top and bottom of the ring and the sausage skin around the edge (see image below). Try to make sure than the exposed meat and not the skin is on the pan for the first stage of cooking. That way it will start to get nice and crispy.
2. Turn the heat in your pan to medium high and cook the sausage until you hear a good sizzle. No need to add any oil as the sausages will release oil as they cook. Don’t be tempted to move them for the first 5 minutes otherwise they will stick.
3. After 5 minutes, flip them over and continue to cook for a further 5 minutes on the other side. You may need to drop your heat a little here, especially if you are using a heavy pan that retains the heat well. You should start to see the oil escape from the sausages, in the case of chorizo it will be a lovely orange paprika color. You should also get golden brown crusty bits on your sausage. Don’t fret about any bits of meat stuck to the bottom of the pan – these crusty bits will be absorbed into your sauce later.
4. You will have cooked the sausages for 10 minutes in total by now, they will be almost cooked through but don’t worry if they are a little pink still as they will continue to cook in the sauce. Throw in your canned tomatoes and beans and bring to the boil. Use a spatula to scrape the bottom of the pan. The liquid of the tomatoes will deglaze it so that all the crusty bits of flavour mix into the sauce. If you suspect that your sausages aren’t that well seasoned, now is the time to throw in some spices. You could also throw in some red wine or some drained jarred roasted peppers at this stage.
5. Pop a lid on the pan, turn the heat to low and cook for 20 – 30 minutes.
6. When you are finished cooking, taste and adjust the seasoning. A little red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar is good to freshen things up at this stage. Then serve with your choice of accompaniment from the list above.
Leftover stew will sit in the fridge for 3 days or can be frozen. When re-heating, be mindful that this contains pork so be sure to heat it until it is piping hot all the way through.