A pure pork sausage like the Toulouse-style can be cooked for a few minutes or a few hours. Use it in cassoulet or other slow-braised dishes such as this one. In the absence of a hare, you could adapt the recipe for rabbit (see Note).
- 350 g dried white beans, soaked in cold water overnight
- ½ onion studded with 2 whole cloves, plus 2 large onions, peeled and diced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 whole hare
- 100 g pancetta, cut into lardons
- 500 g (about 6–7) Toulouse sausages (see Note)
- 2–4 tbsp lard
- 1 whole garlic bulb, broken into cloves
- flour, for dusting
- 1 bottle decent red wine, plus extra to serve
- 4 sage leaves
- 2 rosemary sprigs
- cracked pepper
- crusty bread, to serve
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Soaking time 8 hours
Drain the beans and place in a large saucepan with plenty of fresh water, onion with cloves, and bay leaf. (You can also add some sage leaves or stalks if you have them.) Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to medium and cook for no more than 45 minutes, or until the beans are about half-cooked. Drain, reserving the cooking liquid. Discard the onion and bay leaf (and sage, if using).
Rinse hare and pat dry. Save kidney and liver. Joint the hare by removing the legs at joints. Trim off the base of the ribs from the backbone, leaving the saddle (two loins on the bone). You should have four leg pieces, the saddle, tail and neck (discard the ribs).
In a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat, brown the pancetta lardons and Toulouse sausage, adding a enough lard so they fry well. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Turn the heat down to a bit lower. Add the diced onion and garlic to the same pan and stir lazily, until gently browned and softened. Again use a slotted spoon to remove and set aside.
The sausages should be cool enough to handle at this stage, so cut into chunks.
Dust the hare in flour and brown the pieces in the same pan – there should be enough fat, if not you’ll need to add a little more lard to make about 2 tbsp in the pan. Add the hare kidney and liver.
When hare begins to develop a golden colour, pour in one-third of the wine and deglaze the pan, stirring and scraping the base to loosen any crusty bits so they dissolve into the wine.
Return the garlic, onion, sausage and pancetta to pan. Add the drained beans, sage leaves and rosemary sprigs. Add the rest of the wine and enough reserved bean cooking water to barely submerge all the beans. Add some cracked pepper.
Turn up heat and bring to the boil, then turn it right down and let it tick along at a bare simmer for 2–4 hours, or until hare is tender. Check that the meat doesn’t stick to the pot, or that the sauce doesn’t dry out too much, adding more bean cooking water if need be, or water if you run out. Taste the sauce after about half the time to see if it needs salt or any more pepper.
When the meat is ready, you can reduce the sauce by removing the lid and giving a good boil until it’s the right consistency.
Serve with a hearty red wine and crusty sourdough.
• To substitute rabbit, use white wine instead of red, and keep an eye on the dish while it’s cooking because rabbit usually needs a lot less time than hare. Wild rabbit will take longer than farmed, and the loin on a farmed rabbit will probably go dry, so you could take it out after 20 minutes and pop it back in at the end.
• Make sure you use a pure pork sausage. This would also work with Italian-style coarse ground sausages, including those with a little fennel.
Also try Matthew Evans' pan-fried Toulouse sausage with pork fat potatoes and truffle salt.