A delicious combination of butter beans baked au gratin with crisp bacon, onions and thyme - all bound in a tomato, crème fraiche and wine sauce! This should also be known as Fragrant Savoury Room Scenter - as the smell as this cooks is divine!! This recipe is real European fusion cuisine - the cassoulet idea from France, with the parmesan and wine sauce from Italy, and the crispy smoked bacon rashers from England. Serve this as a main meal for supper or lunch with salad and crusty bread, or as an accompaniment for sausages, stews, casseroles or roast meats........the bacon can be left out if you are serving it as an accompaniment. NB: This recipe was born when I tried to follow a recipe posted here on Zaar, Quick Gratin of Beans and Bacon - posted by Lindsey and originally a Nigel Slater recipe; I had no haricot beans, but I did have butter beans and lots of other bits and bobs to use up! I LOVE Lindsey's recipe - but feel that this recipe is different enough to warrant posting it - so, thanks to Linds and Nigel for the original idea! Preparation time includes cooking the bacon and the onion.
- 200 g smoked bacon, rashers cut into pieces or 200 g smoked lardons
- 2 onions, peeled and sliced thickly
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 (400 g) cans butter beans, drained
- 4 tablespoons creme fraiche
- 2 tablespoons tomato puree
- 100 ml red wine
- 1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
- olive oil
- 4 tablespoons fresh breadcrumbs
- 4 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon dried garlic granules or 1 -2 garlic clove, peeled and minced finely
- 2 tomatoes, sliced thinly
- Pre-heat the oven to 200C/400°F Lightly grease an ovenproof gratin dish with a little olive oil.
- Topping: Mix the breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese and garlic together. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Set aside.
- Cassoulet: Fry the bacon pieces in a large frying pan until crisp. Take the bacon pieces out and add the chopped onions - fry them gently in the bacon fat until the onion is soft but not coloured. Add the fresh thyme leaves and mix through.
- Add the bacon to the onion and thyme mixture and then gently mix the butter beans through the mixture.
- In a large bowl, add the crème fraiche, tomato paste, wine and sugar - mix thoroughly. Season with pepper and a little salt, as the bacon is already quite salty.
- Add the bacon and butter bean mixture to the crème fraiche and wine sauce - mix gently.
- Transfer all the butter bean mixture to the greased gratin dish. Sprinkle the topping over evenly and place the sliced tomatoes on top in an attractive pattern.
- Bake for about 30 minutes or until the cassoulet is bubbling and the topping is a golden brown.
- Serve immediately with a large bowl of salad and crusty bread, or, as an accompaniment for sausages, roast meat and poultry, casseroles, stews or grilled meat.
- Serves 3 people as a main meal and 6 people as an accompaniment.