Mamacook aka Heidi Gough was a finalist for the BritMums Brilliance in Blogging award in the ‘tasty’ category in 2012. Heidi believes in feeding toddlers ‘proper’ food adapting recipes to make them lower in salt and sugar but not compromising flavour. In 2012 has launched her own business providing food safety interim advice and consultancy as well as continuing her blog.
It’s only natural we should become reflective at this time of year. It’s been a roller coaster for me meaning I left my job and started up my own business as a food safety interim and consultant. It has become more successful than I have time for which is great but exhausting.
Unsurprising, having worked hard for months without much of a break, I should reach Christmas and be ill. I was facing a Christmas Day alone on the sofa but by lunchtime I was feeling better, with my in law’s blessing I descended on their doorstep and I was welcomed into their embrace of a proper family Christmas, generally fussed over and made to feel better. Unfortunately I couldn’t then, cook for my family the next day knowing my little 2 month old nephew was around too, I didn’t want him to get ill.
So I’m writing this with an unexpected two days on my hands not filled with family laughter, too much food and games as I’d hoped but also not full of noise, chaos and the associated cleaning. It made me realise that, for all of the disappointment of not seeing my family right now and feeling sad about it all, really it’s actually not a bad thing (and, with all the chaos of the preceding few months it’s something I needed.) In fact, I’m having such fun today that I’m thinking I will build a close family day, just the three of us into the Christmas / New Year plans every year from now on. A day where we catch up on good TV, play with our toys (ok, play with my son’s toys) and chill.
The unexpected change of plans means though we are weighed down with food. I had intended to cook cassoulet for 14 but seeing as we’re now down to the three of us I reduced the recipe quantities. Perhaps not quite enough as I still had enough to feed us over again.
Mamacook, never knowingly under catered.
Chill out day and Cassoulet – Serves 6-8
500g Haricot Beans, soaked overnight in cold water in the fridge
500g Pork Belly, rind removed
Duck fat or oil
4 Pieces of duck confit
1 small onion
2/3 – 1 head of garlic
500g or 6-7 or so garlicky sausages (I used Rutland sausages from Grasmere Farm but Toulouse is traditional.)
Bouquet garni made from celery, parsley, thyme and bay tied with food safe (not blue) string
Drain the beans and add enough boiling water to cover. Bring to the boil and boil for 15 minutes skimming any scum that rises off the surface.
In the meantime, gently fry the onion and garlic in a spoonful of duckfat or oil until softened. Put to one side then cut the pork into pieces and fry until browned in the fat remaining. Drain the beans and add the pork, beans, onion, garlic and 800ml of boiling water to a saucepan with the bouquet garni. Simmer for 45 minutes or until the beans are tender.
Heat the oven to 180-200oC (350-400F). Remove the bouquet garni and pour the beans into a baking tin or tray. Take the meat off the duck bones and put in the beans. Brown the sausages in more duck fat or oil, cut into thirds and add to the beans. Cook for approx. 40-45 mins, stirring once half way through cooking. Add a little more water if needed, you want it to be reasonably dry at the end of the cooking time though.
Sprinkle with parsley to serve if liked. Serve on it’s own or with crusty bread and a sharply dressed salad.
To make your own duck confit, take duck legs and some goose or duck fat and fry them until brown on each side. Put into dishes, tightly packed and put in more goose or duck fat and some thyme. Slow roast for 2 hours at 150oC / 300F or until falling off the bone. They apparently keep well if covered in fat in the fridge but I tend to make them as needed when I’m making cassoulet.