Food & Drink Monday, May 1st , pictures by: Jay Watson/Bill's Kitchen

How to Make: Bill Sewell's English Cassoulet (ham hock with haricot beans & sausages)

Food & Drink Monday, May 1st

How to Make: Bill Sewell's English Cassoulet (ham hock with haricot beans & sausages)

LW 4

A traditional French cassoulet is so rib-sticking that you can’t move for about a week having had half a helping. This is a lighter version but with the same starting points: three different cuts of pork, some beans, and ultra-flavoursome cooking liquor.

- Bill Sewell, author of Bill's Kitchen.

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Serves 6-8


1 ham hock bone in and cured (smoked or un-smoked according to availability and preference)
500ml dry cider
500ml water
1 bay leaf, broken
1 x 400g tin cooked haricot or canellini beans
100g smoked streaky bacon, diced
250g plain top quality sausages, cut into 2cm pieces
50ml olive oil
400g carrots, in big chunks
400g onion, small dice
3 stick celery, medium dice
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbs Dijon mustard
½ lemon, juice of
1 small bunch (about 40g) flat parsley, roughly chopped 


1. Pre-heat the oven to 120C (fan). In a casserole dish with a tightly fitting lid put the ham hock, cider, water and bay leaf.

2. Bring to the boil, put the lid on and put in the oven for 3½ -4 hours until the meat is falling off the bone. (If the lid is not a good fit you’ll need to keep checking whether the liquid has evaporated – keep adding water as necessary.)

3. Take the hock out and allow to cool. Keep the cooking liquor. Then, pull the meat off the bone leaving it in fairly large chunks, set aside and discard the bone.

4. In a separate pan, brown the pieces of sausage in the olive oil and remove the sausage with a slotted spoon. In this pan then cook the diced bacon until it’s browned and remove, leaving the fat in the pan.

5. In the same pan sweat the carrots, onions, celery and garlic in the fat for about 10 minutes with the lid on (don’t add any salt to the vegetables as the cooking liquor from the cured ham hock will be rather salty). Then add the cooked haricot beans, the chunks of ham hock, the cooked bacon and sausage chunks and the ham hock cooking liquor. Bring the whole thing to the boil and simmer gently for about half an hour. 

6. Add the lemon juice, mustard and half the parsley. Check the seasoning and adjust, adding more lemon juice if necessary. At this point you may need to add some more water or apple juice in order that the dish is (a) wet enough (it should be like a thick soup with chunks in) and (b) not too salty.

7. Sprinkle some more chopped parsley over each portion.


Bill's food is loved from London to west Wales. This is his third book in twenty years and it's being crowd funded through this Kickstarter campaign. Supporters will be among the first to get their hands on the finished book when it comes off the press, as well as the chance to have Bill pop round and cook dinner for you and 19 mates. 

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