CASSOULET is a hearty combination of beans baked with meats.  The list of ingredients is long but it is not hard to cook.  You need to start preparations at least two to three days in advance of serving and you will need a large casserole dish to cook it in.  Cook the beans three days before your dinner, cook the meat stew two days before dinner, day three, the day you are serving cassoulet  brown the duck and sausages, then put it all together.

There are as many versions of cassoulet as there are regions in France.    My recipe takes full advantage of our garden raised dried  French heirloom Tarbais white beans and our own milk fed pork.  But substituting  dried white  beans and having an understanding butcher you can easily create your version of this classic dish.

The sausages should have as high a pork content as possible.  Duck confit is sold canned  (and frozen) in large supermarkets and some delicatessens.  Using it is optional.   You can also make an all-pork cassoulet using boneless country-style ribs cut into 2 inch cubes.

IMG_2404Day one in the three day process.  Prepare the beans.

IMG_2406Day two – brown the meat and add the tomatoes and stock.

Day three – brown the fresh pork sausage and put the cassoulet together about three hours before dinner.

: casserole
Cuisine: French
: 10
Cassoulet is a hearty combination of beans baked with meat - pork, lamb and spicy garlic sausage.
  • Beans:
  • 1½ lbs (750 g) dried white beans
  • 1 pound (500 g) fresh pork rind with fat, cut into strips
  • 8 oz. (250 g) salt pork diced
  • 1 large onion stuck with 6 cloves
  • 4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 1 large stalk celery, sliced
  • bouquet garni: 2 bay leaves, a generous bunch of thyme sprigs, a handful parsley sprigs, salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 legs duck or goose confit (optional)
  • 4 tbsp.drippings from the confit, or lard or bacon drippings.
  • 1 lb (500g) boned shoulder of lamb cut into 2-in (5-cm) cubes
  • 8 oz (250 g) lean pork, cut into 2 in. (5-cm) cubes
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 medium to large onions, finely chopped
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped, or an 8 oz.(250 g) can of tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 litre/quart chicken stock or pork stock.
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lb (500 g) fresh garlic sausage, halved length-wise and cut into 3-inch (8 cm) lengths
  • 8 oz (250g) dried spicy garlic sausage halved lengthwise and sliced (optional but nice)
  • 3 cups fresh breadcrumbs
  2. Soak the beans overnight in cold water. Drain.
  3. The next day:
  4. Place the pork rind in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to a simmer. Skim off any foam.
  5. Simmer for 10 minutes and remove from the heat.
  6. Put the beans in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan with the pork rind and the rest of the ingredients.
  7. Cover by 2 inches (5 cm) with cold water and bring to a boil. Skim off any scum.
  8. Reduce heat, cover and cook for about 1 hour until the beans are just cooked but not mush.
  9. Remove from the heat , let cool, cover and refrigerate overnight.
  10. Meanwhile prepare the meat stew
  12. If you are using the confit put the confit in a pot of warm water to melt the fat.
  13. Take out the legs and remove the meat from the bones. Set the meat aside.
  14. Make the meat stew:
  15. In a large saucepan heat 4 tablespoons of the fat and brown the lamb.
  16. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  17. Add the pork and half the garlic, and brown.
  18. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  19. Saute the onions with the remaining garlic just until translucent and golden.
  20. Remove from the heat and pour off any fat into a bowl and set aside
  21. Return the lamb and pork to the onions and garlic in the pan.
  22. Add the tomatoes, bay leaf and the stock and bring to the boil.
  23. Season with a generous teaspoon of salt.
  24. Skim off any foam, then lower the heat, cover and simmer the meat stew gently for 1½ hours.
  25. Let cool, cover and refrigerate overnight.
  26. The next day, about 3 hours before serving, discard the fat from the top of the stew.
  27. Bring the beans to room temperature and strain off the liquid from the beans and retain.
  28. Season to taste with more salt if necessary and generous grinds of black pepper.
  29. If you are using the duck confit, heat a large frying pan and brown the duck confit pieces. Remove and the thighs into pieces and set. aside.
  30. In the same frying pan brown the fresh sausage on the cut side in a little fat and remove from heat and set aside. Pour off the fat and reserve.
  31. Now put it all together:
  32. Lay the pork rind in a large, heavy-duty bottomed, preferably earthenware casserole, fat side down (the skin will stick).
  33. Place one-third of the beans in a layer over the pork rind.
  34. Layer half the meat stew and top with half the duck confit and half the fresh and dried sausage.
  35. Layer another third of the beans over the meat, and layer the remaining meats and sausage, over the beans.
  36. The top layer should be the final third of the beans.
  37. Spoon in some of the reserved bean liquid (you should just be able to see it)
  38. Sprinkle with a thin layer breadcrumbs and drizzle 2 tablespoons of the fat poured off the meat over the top.
  39. Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes at 425F (220 C)
  40. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 f (l90 c) .
  41. Gently break up the crust on top, them spoon over some more bean liquid and sprinkle with more breadcrumbs.
  42. Continue checking, about every 30 minutes or so gently breaking up the crust each time and adding more bread crumbs.
  43. Add more liquid as necessary; be careful not to let the cassoulet dry out.
  44. When the cassoulet has cooked for 2 to 2½ hours and crust is well browned, remove from the oven and serve with lots of crusty bread and a green salad
  45. Substitutions:
  46. Make an all-pork cassoulet using 3 pounds boneless country-style ribs cut into 2 inch cubes instead of the lamb and lean pork.
  47. Use 2 pounds of sweet Italian sausage instead of the garlic sausages.


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