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Easy one-pan recipe for Cumberland Pork Sausage Meatballs with Cannellini Beans.
Not long ago I was sent a selection of meat from Lake District Farmers. A feast of options, in the box there were plenty of Cumberland sausages, some thick-cut pork loin steaks and an intriguing tube of Cumberland sausagemeat – something I haven’t seen in the shops in that format since my childhood. My mother used to make sausagemeat pie with it, layering fresh tomatoes and sausagemeat before topping the whole thing with mash. Not gourmet cooking at all but a frugal and satisfying supper that we all enjoyed. I had other ideas though. I used the thick-cut pork loin steaks to make a recipe for summer pork with fennel and beans and enjoyed it so much I wanted to try again. I wondered if the recipe could be developed to make a one-pan supper dish that could be put together with what I had left.
Of course, you could make this dish by using sausages to provide the meat. Just squeeze the meat out from your sausages and throw away the skins. But that always seems a little sad to me – I love sausages far too much to deconstruct them if I don’t have to. With the Cumberland Sausagement from Lakeland Farmers, you don’t have to.
I’ve now made this dish three times in total and each time I’ve tweaked it just a little. The first time I fried the meatballs, just as I had done with the pork loin steaks in the original recipe. The second time, I increased the number of cherry tomatoes and of shallots. Cooking for one or two isn’t always as simple as halving or quartering a recipe for four – you do often need more liquid proportionally (wine in my case) and with ingredients like the cherry tomatoes and shallots that add depth of flavour for some reason I often find that I seem to need a bit extra too. Baking the Cumberland pork meatballs rather than pan-frying them helped. I might try dry frying them as an alternative, but I felt that draining off a little of the fat was necessary to avoid overwhelming what is actually quite a delicate dish. The original recipe uses thick-cut pork chops which may well benefit from frying to seal – and certainly if I made a version using pork tenderloin which is lean and has little extra fat.
I’ve also used dried cannellini beans rather than canned. It’s a lot more economical – I presoak and then cook for 25 minutes in my pressure cooker. I generally make up enough for a bean salad at the same time. Of course, if you are in a hurry, the canned variety saves a lot of waiting.
I swapped out the basil in the original recipe for fresh thyme. At this time of year, thyme is light and fragrant – and in my view a better pairing with fennel and pork than basil, which seems to get lost.
Finally, I added black olives for a bit of extra depth of flavour and a saline tang. Delicious.
If you’d like to try this recipe for yourself you’ll need about 150-200g of sausagemeat per person, a glass or so of dry white wine, 150-200g of Cannellini beans per person (reconstituted cooked weight), cherry tomatoes and black olives, a teaspoon of dried fennel, a head or two of fresh fennel, butter, olive oil and a couple of shallots. Plus some fresh herbs of your choice. You could even use the ferny fennel leaves if you don’t have anything else to hand.
Ready to try for yourself? Here’s how to make the recipe.
An easy summer one-pan supper dish
- 300 g Cumberland sausage meat
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 15 g butter
- 2 small banana shallots 1 sliced and one finely chopped
- 100 ml white wine
- 1 large lemon cut into segments
- 300 g cannellini beans (cooked and drained weight if you are using dried)
- 75 g cherry tomatoes
- 75 g black olives stoned if necessary
- 1 large fennel or two small heads. Trim and cut into segments
- 1 tsp fennel seeds lightly crushed
- 1 handful fresh thyme leaves picked
Pre-heat the oven to 180c
Add half the fennel seeds to the sausagemeat and mash in with a fork or your fingers. Once evenly distributed, divide the meat up into 6-8 meatballs, rolling gently in the palm of your hand
Put the meatballs on a baking tray and pop in the oven while you prepare the fennel
Melt the butter with a little of the oil in a skillet or ovenproof frying pan
Add the fresh fennel and sliced shallot and cook over a moderate heat until the fennel starts to soften (2-5 minutes)
Add the wine and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook for another 2-5 minutes
Add half the lemon wedges and drizzle over the remaining oil
Take the meatballs out of the oven and replace with the fennel. Cook the fennel for 10 minutes till the edges start to caramelise and the wine has reduced by about 50%
Stir the fennel mixture and add the meatballs to the pan. Return to the oven for 15-10 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and thyme leaves to the pan and cook for a further 5 minutes.
Mix the chopped shallot, olives and remaining fennel seed with the beans and squeeze in the juice from the remaining lemon wedges
Take the pan from the oven and remove the meatballs. Gently stir through the beans, season to taste and pop the meatballs back in the pan to serve
Why not try this recipe yourself? It’s an easy supper dish and one which can be made with all sorts of cuts of pork. If you choose to use tenderloin or chops, then just seal the meat quickly in the skillet before you cook the fennel.
What does go without saying, of course, is that you should use really good quality meat. Lake District Farmers, founded in 2009, provides everyone with the opportunity to do just that. Started by and run by farmers from the Lakeland fells, the aim is to ensure a quality-driven product sourced from family run fell farms in The Lake District. The business now works with over 50 Cumbrian farms. The result is that the meat they supply is full of flavour, properly aged and butchered and all-round delicious.
I’m working on making a few more recipes with the meat I was sent, but so far, we’ve tried the pork loin steaks, the Cumberland meat and the sirloin roast. Everything has been delicious. The sirloin roast totally surprised me – I was nervous about cooking a small roast because it’s very easy to overcook and dry out beef off the bone. But, it was perfect roasted for just 25 minutes and rested for a further 20. Watch out for my next recipe using the fabulous meat that was given to sample. And, if I’ve already made you hungry pop over to the Lake District Farmers site and put your own meal box together. They deliver their quality fresh meat across the country – and anything you can’t eat straight away is beautifully packaged to freeze.
Looking for an alternative pork recipe? For a rather posh way with pork tenderloin, try sous-vide. It helps to keep the meat beautifully tender while it cooks, so all you need to do is finish it off in a frying pan and add sauce. Or how about this delicious spicy Spanish pork casserole with paprika. The perfect mid-week supper dish it’s easy to prepare and tasty to eat.