All this to say that given this cold, cold day, I want to eat something warm and comforting. Cassoulet would hit the spot, but the real thing takes something like 3 days to make from scratch, whereas this version from Real Simple takes about an hour. When I made this, I used pork andouille (the only one I could find), but it was too spicy for my liking. I’d use a smoked sausage next time. It was really great otherwise!
¼ cup olive oil, divided
1 12-oz. package andouille chicken sausage (see note above), pricked with a fork
1 cup panko
1 ¼ tsp. kosher salt, divided
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 carrot, grated
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 lb. ground pork
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 14.5-oz. can crushed tomatoes
2 sprigs thyme, plus leaves for serving
1 15.5-oz. cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium. Add sausage; cook, turning often, until browned on all sides, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add panko and ¼ teaspoon salt to pot; cook, stirring constantly, until golden, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
Wipe pot clean. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium. Add onion, carrot, and garlic; cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high. Add ground pork, pepper, and remaining 1 teaspoon salt; cook, breaking up pork with a wooden spoon and stirring occasionally, until browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Add tomato paste; cook until darkened and coating pork, about 2 minutes. Stir in 1¾ cups water, crushed tomatoes, and thyme, scraping up browned bits; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, stirring often, until sauce thickens slightly, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, diagonally slice sausage.
Add beans and sliced sausage to pot. Cook over medium, stirring occasionally, until warmed through, about 2 minutes. Discard thyme sprigs. Sprinkle with panko and thyme leaves before serving. (The seasoned panko can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for a few days, while the rest of the stew is refrigerated and warmed up before being topped and served.)