pam anderson’s cassoulet-style italian sausages and white beans

There are two cooks in my house. My husband was the original cook, the one who got us through my four years of medical school and a good portion of my residency. If it weren’t for him, I would have survived on bowls of cereal, canned soup, and takeout Chinese. Instead, he kept us well fed with a steady repertoire of grilled chicken dishes, beans, rice, and pasta. He’s not a recipe-reading type, and he prefers making meals that are intuitive and require less than 30 minutes.

When I started cooking back in 2003, it took me a while to get comfortable in the kitchen. I’m still quite the novice home cook, but I’m no longer afraid to work with raw meat or tackle a recipe with multiple steps. I’m not afraid of cooking anymore.

Wow. That feels good to say.

While my husband is more of the open-a-box-of-pasta-and-a-jar-of-sauce type of cook, I try to make our meals from scratch, as much as I can. I’m not at Jennie’s level, but I’m working on it [and she makes it seem SO easy]. These days, I look for a challenge in the kitchen, a new recipe that I can make my own, food I can play around with. I rarely make the same recipe twice.

Except this one. I’ve now made this twice in one week.

This Cassoulet-style Italian Sausages and White Beans comes from Pam Anderson’s new cookbook, Perfect One-Dish Dinners: All You Need for Easy Get-Togethers. After hearing all of the wonderful things said about her book, and after getting to know Pam and her daughters, Maggy and Sharon, through their blog, Three Many Cooks, I bought it as a gift for myself. The book is filled with recipes that appeal both to cooks like me, and also to cooks like my husband.

For working parents like my husband and me, this is a great resource. It’s filled with many ideas for simple menus filled with great ingredients and robust flavor. Like this recipe.

I served this dinner to my parents this Sunday night. Paired with a simple green salad and slices of crusty baguette for dipping, it was a wonderful Sunday dinner. It took no more than an hour to make, and only ten minutes or so of prep time. A glass of Zinfandel would have paired lovely with it, had I remembered.

One more thing I love about this recipe? It makes people think I’m a much better cook than I really am.

Yield: 8 servings.

Cassoulet-Style Italian Sausages and White Beans

Special thanks to Pam Anderson for sharing this amazing recipe from her book, Perfect One-Dish Dinners: All You Need for Easy Get-Togethers. I made the recipe almost exactly as it is written, with the exception of a couple of modifications in line with my family's preferences. I decreased the amount of tomatoes to 2 pints, and I added a 4th can of white beans. Serve this with a nice green salad and some crusty bread


2 1/2 pounds sweet Italian sausage links
3 pints cherry tomatoes
1 medium-large onion, cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks [I used one large Vidalia onion.]
4 large garlic cloves, sliced
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons dried thyme
3 bay leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cans (about 16 ounces each) cannellini beans, undrained


Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 425°F.

Mix sausages, tomatoes, onion, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, thyme, bay leaves, and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper in a large heavy roasting pan or dutch oven. Set pan in oven and roast until sausages are brown and tomatoes have reduced to a thick sauce, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven, stir in beans, and continue to roast until casserole has heated through, about 10 minutes longer. Remove bay leaves and serve.

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16 Responses to “chasing ice cubes, and a recipe for swiss steak”

  1. Olga — October 2, 2012 @ 8:34 pm

    Mj that sounds so comforting. Maggie is so funny. Forrest just loves when we’re in the kitchen hoping for something tasty. Not sure what my ice is … I have so many. But one of them is my grandmother’s plov, an Uzbek rice and lamb dish.

  2. jenn s — October 2, 2012 @ 9:05 pm

    I’m so excited about trying this recipe!! Takes me back to dinners and suppers around my Mimi and Aunt Jewel’s table on Sunday afternoons when we visited them for church.

  3. Gail — October 2, 2012 @ 9:51 pm

    When you tweeted that you were writing a post on Swiss Steak, my heart skipped a little beat. But, I stopped myself from being too excited, just in case, it wasn’t Swiss Steak as I know it.

    My hands-down favorite meal growing up was Swiss Steak (we had it without green pepper and DEFINITELY no wine). I can picture the recipe, torn from the box of either Minute Rice or Uncle Ben’s, taped to a page in my mother’s recipe notebook. I could eat mountains of it, and so could my dad. He and I would be so excited when that familiar aroma of onions simmering in tomato sauce filled our small house. My brother, not so much, but I didn’t care. I was Daddy’s girl and our mutual love for this dinner brought us even closer together.

    But then I grew up, left home and was experimenting in my own kitchen. Swiss Steak was abandoned.

    It wasn’t until my father was sick, very sick, that I ate Swiss Steak with him again. I didn’t have the recipe book any more. It didn’t matter because I knew the recipe inside and out, having watched my mother make it for many years.
    My father, as weak as he was, still managed to eat a good plateful of Swiss Steak served over a mound of rice. I was happy to cook for him and desperate to nourish him. I watched his face as he closed his eyes while he slowly chewed each mouthful. I knew he was remembering all the nights we ate that meal made by my mother all those years ago.

    Swiss Steak was the last home cooked meal that he ate, and I’m so grateful that I was there to share it with him.

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — October 3rd, 2012 @ 6:51 am

      Oh, Gail. What a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing those memories with me, with us. xo

  4. Belinda Markham Wood — October 2, 2012 @ 10:45 pm

    This is THE recipe that most reminds me of Grandma! Gotta have the green peppers though! :-).

  5. Kathryn — October 3, 2012 @ 4:14 am

    I have to admit to never having heard of Swiss Steak but I love the way that you describe it and your urge to make it for your husband. A lovely post, as ever.

  6. DessertForTwo — October 3, 2012 @ 7:57 am

    This looks so comfy and delicious. Hot buttered rice is the key to my happy place 🙂

  7. Jennifer Hess — October 3, 2012 @ 10:02 am

    Ice cube! I love it 🙂

    I never had swiss steak until my former mother-in-law served it. Her sauce had sauteed mushrooms in it as well, and she served it over mashed potatoes instead of rice, but I’m loving your version, and will have to make it soon. Thanks so much for sharing with us.

  8. Chris — October 3, 2012 @ 11:53 am

    Our cat loves chasing balls of aluminum foil around the wood floor.

    Haven’t had swiss steak in over 12 years, it was my older kids’ favorite. Yours sounds about the same as ours, except I always put in more green pepper just because that’s my ice cube:)

  9. Kiran @ — October 3, 2012 @ 1:53 pm

    The story about your cat and ice is soooo cute 😉

  10. Isabelle @ Crumb — October 3, 2012 @ 8:37 pm

    Funny how all cats develop at least one weird obsession, isn’t it? One of ours comes running whenever she hears the can opener… not because of cat food, but because she has an unnatural love of canned chickpeas and canned corn.
    My ice cube is fresh bread, right out of the oven, with a pat of melting butter. I know all is well with the world when there’s fresh, warm, crusty bread in my life.

  11. Paula — October 4, 2012 @ 6:24 pm

    Girl, when you write a post you write a post! What a charming story about your cat and your husband’s memories of this dish that you so lovingly created for him.

  12. Laura — October 5, 2012 @ 1:24 pm

    I am fairly certain my only experience with Swiss Steak has come from a TV dinner…. or perhaps that was Salisbury Steak. I’m excited to try your recipe 🙂

    And my parents’ dog has the same ice obsession… Only she chews it, leaving little shards of ice to melt into puddles. Inevitably someone, wearing socks, gets quite the surprise (and wet socks) when then walk into one of the puddles 🙂

  13. Di — October 5, 2012 @ 1:36 pm

    Once again The Merry Gourmet” stirs” all of our senses. Your words create picture- perfect images accompanied by movement, sounds and smells that make it so easy to imagine your story for ourselves.

  14. Kelly Senyei (Just a Taste) — October 15, 2012 @ 4:39 pm

    This reminds me of the Hungarian beef goulash my mom always made when we were growing up. It looks so rich and satisfying – perfect for the cold weather ahead!

  15. Macaroni Mama — February 20, 2013 @ 6:21 pm


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