Cassoul-ish

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No one in the world has time to make real cassoulet, but man is it the ultimate comfort food. This faux version comes fairly close, especially with the addition of the garlicky bread crumbs. Serves 8 generously.

Lima beans:

  • 1½ pounds dried lima beans
  • ½ pound slab bacon or pancetta
  • 2 medium onions
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 pound pork neck bones
  • 2 quarts chicken, vegetable, or ham stock
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 4 dried shiitake mushrooms

Garlicky Breadcrumbs:

  • Generous 1 cup cubed bread
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • Big pinch red pepper flakes (optional)

Sausages:

  • 8 sausages

Make the lima beans:

  1. The night before, soak the beans in an ample quantity of cold water. They will triple in size so be sure to use a very large bowl. The next day, drain the beans.
  2. Cube the bacon or pancetta into quarter-inch cubes. Roughly cut the onion into a large dice. Roughly chop the parsley leaves, and then finely mince the stems down to the bottom few inches of stalk. Separate the leaves from the stalk, saving some leaves for garnish. Press or very finely mince the garlic (if mincing, sprinkle over a little salt and mash into a paste), and set aside.
  3. In a large cold pot, heat the bacon to medium heat. Slowly render the fat from the bacon, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the meat from the pot onto paper towels to drain.
  4. Add the onion and neck bones, increase the heat to medium-high, and sauté for 8 to 10 minutes, until the onions start to brown.
  5. Add the stock, beans, bay leaves, and shiitakes. You want just enough liquid to cover the beans. If it’s not enough, add more stock or water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 20 to 30 minutes, until beans are tender but not falling apart. If you’re using an electric stove, check them every 10 minutes.
  6. Once the beans are done, stir in the parsley stems and leaves, reserving some leaves for garnish. Season to taste with salt.

While the beans cook, make the garlicky breadcrumbs:

  1. Blitz the cubed bread in a food processor into coarse bread crumbs.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, if using. Quickly stir just to evenly distribute the garlic. Add the bread crumbs and toast, stirring frequently, until dark brown and very fragrant, about 8 minutes. Keep a close eye on it as it starts to brown.

Once the beans have cooked, make the sausage:

  1. In a large pan over medium heat, heat a couple tablespoons of oil. Add the sausages and cover the pan.
  2. Cook for 5 minutes, until well browned on the bottom. Flip, cover, then cook again for 5 minutes on the other side. Remove to a plate to rest for at least 5 minutes.

Serve:

  1. Slice the sausage at a sharp angle and place atop the beans with a small amount of the bean likker. Liberally sprinkle over the garlicky bread crumbs and garnish with parsley.