Sausage and Bean Casserole

Dinner: Tonight I’ve finally made a recipe I’ve been meaning to make for quite some time, a sausage and bean casserole. True to form, however, I’ve drastically altered the recipe because I had a ham steak and leeks on hand. I took the framework of Martha’s sausage and bean casserole and mixed in some elements of a Hardy Boys bean cassoulet. Someday I’d like to follow the Hardy Boys’ recipe to the letter, when I find duck sausage…! Too bad that show was cancelled … anyways, here’s what I made:

Brown 3 slices bacon, chopped, in a heavy-bottomed pot. Remove with a slotted spoon. Sautee 1/2 chopped vidalia onion and two coarsely chopped leeks in the bacon fat until translucent. Add 2 medium chopped cloves garlic and 1 T chopped sage; cook for 3 minutes. Remove from pot. Over medium heat, lightly brown 1 ham steak, cut into 1cm square pieces. Deglaze pot with about 2 cups chicken and/or vegetable stock and 1 cup water. Add onions/leeeks, bacon, 2 bay leaves, 2 T tomato paste, freshly ground pepper, and 1 teaspoon dried thyme. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup bread crumbs. Pour into baking dish and top with bread crumbs. Cover with foil. Bake for 1 hour at 375F, then remove foil and cook for another 15-20 minutes. Recommend not filling baking dish to top … and not having too much liquid … and using fresh bread crumbs if possible (whole wheat)….  But all in all, a hearty, delicious recipe!

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