200 grams smoked bacon, rashers cut into pieces or 200g smoked lardons
2 onions, peeled and sliced thickly
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 (400 grams) cans butter beans, drained
4 tablespoons creme fraiche
2 tablespoons tomato puree
100ml red wine, or 100ml vegetable stock
1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
salt and pepper
4 tablespoons fresh breadcrumbs
4 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon dried garlic granules or 1 ~ 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced finely
2 tomatoes, sliced thinly
salt and pepper
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.
bacon recipe courtesy of: Karen Booth, Lavender and Lovage, December 2, 2011