Braised pumpkin, lentil and pork casserole
- October 2021
- Serves 6
- Hands-on time 45 min
This pumpkin, lentil and pork belly casserole is an easy twist on the French classic cassoulet. It’s quicker to make but just as hearty.
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- 39.8g (13.7g saturated)
- 19g (7.1g sugars)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 500g pork belly, skin removed, cut into 2cm thick slices (see Easy Swaps)
- 6 good quality sausages (we used Toulouse)
- 100g smoked bacon lardons
- 1 large onion, finely sliced
- 1 large carrot, finely chopped
- 1 large celery stick, finely chopped
- 6 garlic cloves, bashed
- 2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 thyme sprigs
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 200ml cider
- 300g dried puy lentils
- 6 fresh sage leaves, roughly chopped, plus extra, fried in a little oil until crisp, to serve
- 600ml chicken stock
- 700g pumpkin (we used delica), seeds removed, cut into chunky wedges
- Knob of unsalted butter
- 60g fresh breadcrumbs
- Crusty bread to serve
You’ll also need
- Large flameproof casserole or a large frying pan and casserole
- Heat the oven to 150ºC fan/gas 3½. Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large casserole over a medium-high heat. Season the pork with salt, then sear (in batches if need be) until golden and caramelised on both sides (2-3 minutes). Remove from the pan. Turn the heat to medium and brown the sausages all over (they don’t need to cook through), then remove from the pan.
- Turn the heat to low-medium and add the bacon, onion and a pinch of salt. Cook for 15-20 minutes until the bacon is crisp and the onions are starting to caramelise. Add a splash of water if it’s too dry.
- Add the carrot and celery and cook for 10 minutes, stirring from time to time, until slightly softened. Stir in the garlic, mustard, bay, thyme, fennel seeds and cider. Bring to a simmer, then bubble for 10 minutes until the liquid has almost fully evaporated.
- Stir in the lentils, chopped sage, stock and some salt and pepper. Return to a simmer, then add the pork, sausages and pumpkin pieces. Cover with a tight-fitting lid or foil, then put the casserole in the oven and cook for 1 hour 15 minutes.
- Remove the lid/foil and check the lentils and pumpkin are tender. Melt the butter in a small pan, then add the breadcrumbs and some salt and pepper. Stir to coat, then sprinkle over the casserole. Turn the oven to 180ºC fan/gas 6 and cook uncovered for 30 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and the breadcrumbs are golden. Rest for 15 minutes, then serve with bread and the fried sage leaves.
Easy swaps: Swap the pork belly for 3-4 confit duck legs or 2-3 cooked smoked ham hocks (skip the bacon in this case). You’ll find both at good butchers or large supermarkets.
This is a riff on cassoulet, the classic from Southwest France. We’ve adapted it by using puy lentils and pumpkin. It’s quicker to make and equally hearty.
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