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Braised Borlotti with Fennel Sausages

Tray Chic

Braised Borlotti with Fennel Sausages

The Tray Chic series comes to us from Thyme: a rural idyll which offers a place to pause for thought run by the Hibbert family.

A bucolic retreat of rooms, luxury and rest offering a range of workshops, treatments, events, and some of the most delicious food in the county at the Ox Barn. Each month Chef Director, Charlie shares a simple seasonal recipe, shown on a tray styled by sister, Milly, in Bertioli linen, designed by Thyme’s founder, Caryn.  

Charlie Hibbert’s Braised Borlotti with Fennel Sausages

Now that the mists of mellow fruitfulness are rolling in it’s time to think about warming food and this is the perfect incarnation. The aromatic fennel sausages remind me of their Italian cousin finocchiona (fennel salami) and we Hibberts are suckers for just-picked pink borlotti beans, although do use dried or tinned if needs be.

Feeds 4

Preheat the oven to 130°C (normal) | 110°C (fan) | gas mark ½


  • 8 coarse cut pork and fennel sausages
  • 100g diced pancetta
  • 250g fresh borlotti beans (or 150g dried and soaked in cold water overnight)
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 small white onion
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 1 head of fennel
  • 60ml olive oil
  • 3 springs of sage

For the breadcrumbs

  • 3 slices of stale bread
  • 1 bunch of parsley, finely chopped (including stalks)
  • A pinch of chilli
  • 1 garlic clove, grated


  • Add oil to a large heavy pot and colour the sausages over a medium heat, then set aside. Then the pancetta until it is browned.
  • Roughly dice the vegetables and add them after five minutes. Turn the heat down and cover. Allow the vegetables to sweat for five minutes more.
  • Stir in the tomatoes and cook for another minute. Put the sausages back in with beans, olive oil and sage. Cover generously with water and bring to a simmer. Lid on, put in the oven for an hour.
  • For the crumbs, cut the crusts off the bread, tear it and pulse in a food processor. In a pan over a medium heat, melt butter and add breadcrumbs.
  • Keep stirring until golden brown. Add half the parsley, plus chilli and garlic and cook for a further minute before turning onto kitchen roll.
  • Pull the pot out of the oven and check the beans are soft. Season well.
  • Scatter the crumbs over and place under a hot grill for a couple of minutes to crisp.
  • Remove from the grill, add remaining parsley and serve.


Charlie’s warming cassoulet is served in a wheel-thrown, stoneware bowl and plate made by George Bronwin. Each piece is hand-made in Somerset and the leafy pattern is inspired by twelfth century Persian ceramics. Paired here with a bottle green, recycled water glass, a plain Bertioli green linen napkin and a pretty, gold-rimmed pinch pot for a simple, nature-inspired trayscape.

Thyme’s Happenings

Milly Hibbert

This month, Thyme’s veg garden bursts into a riot of orange, yellow, purple and pink, showcasing beets, pumpkins, squashes, onions and chard, ripe for eating, preserving and pickling. At the beginning of November, River Cottage founder and powerful food campaigner, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall will be hosting a panel of the Land Gardeners, chef Lulu Cox and artist Nancy Cadogan, to hear about their acclaimed new book, Soil to Table, and discussing the urgent issue of what we need to do now to save our soil. All events including cookery classes – preserving is a highlight at this time of year – can be booked on the Happenings section at


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