Cassoulet recipe for dummies
- Food Tourist
I would love to make a cassoulet for Christmas and need a simple recipe with the least number of "exotic" ingredients. Please provide me with simple instructions for a beginner cook, if this is possible! Also, I might not be able to find duck here, so is it still possible to make without it? Are there variations on cassoulet that are just as tasty?
I would boil the recipe down to two parts: beans and meat.
For meat, I think three different ones are pretty necessary. You could get away with a shredded roast chicken, a sausage, and a lamb stew. That provides a combination of flavors and textures.
The beans really do require an animal fat more complex than chicken. I can't imagine doing it with an oil, or chicken fat, but maybe others will argue otherwise. The beans get cooked along with finely chopped veggies (carrot, celery, garlic, onion) that have been sauteed in the animal fat. The liquid should be stock (chicken, if not more complex) and add some tomatoes.
The problem is that a lot of the charm is to keep distinct flavors rather than have a stew, so each meat and the beans really do need to cook separately until near the end.
I just did a NY Times search and came up with a Bittman article from Jan 29 '03 called Slow and Easy, the Way to Go. The abstract didn't mention recipes that were included. You have to pay for the full article since it's from their archives. I'd be willing to buy it if the cassoulet recipe is in it and because I like Bittman. If you know this article, can you tell me what other recipes he might have included. If this article doesn't have the cassoulet recipe, would you please post it. Thanks.
R - OK, here it is(paraphrased): Slow-Cooker Cassoulet
1/2 lb small white beans(pea or navy)
4 clove garlic, peeled & crushed, plus 1 Tb minc garlic
1 med-lrg chp onion
2 carrots, peeled & in chunks
2 c chp tomatoes w/juice(canned OK)
3- sprigs fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried
2 bay leaves
1/4 lb slab bacon or salt pork, in one piece
4 sweet Ital sausages (3/4 lb)
1 lb boneless pork shoulder
2 duck legs
Ckn, beef or veg stock or water; s&p to taste
1 c plain bread crumbs, opt; parsley for garnish
1. Combine beans, crushed garlic, onion, carrots, tomatoes, thyme, bay and meats in slow cooker and turn heat to high. (brown sausage and duck legs in skillet if you like, before adding) Add stock/water to cover by 2 inches. Cover and cook until beans and meats are tender, 5 hrs on high heat, 7 hrs or more on low.
2. When done, add s&P to taste, along w/minced garlic. If you like, remove cassoulet from cooker and place in a deep casserole. cover w/bread crumbs and roast at 400 until bread crumbs brown(15 mins). Garnish and serve.
Serves at least 4.
i have not personally made cassoulet, nor do i dare attempt to for it is too long of a process for me. however, if you're in san francisco the best cassoulet that i've tasted is at a restaurant called Chapeau! (the exclamation mark is part of the name) or you can try this recipe from one of my favorite cooking resources. if this link doesn't work for you (the access to the recipe is granted through an online subscription only)then let me know and i'll post the recipe in it's entirety.
My husband made cassoulet last week, composed solely from items from our freezer. To a base of onion, carrot, and garlic sautéed in duck fat he added frozen flageolets, two roasted duck legs confit, roasted pig from a caja china party, and garlic Ukrainian sausage a friend brought from Minnesota and water. Cooked for about and hour. Topped with a thick layer of bread crumbs and baked until crisp and toasty.
Not classical surely but wonderful. I think he used The Way to Cook or How to Cook Everything as a reference.
Cassoulet is merely a stew. Don't let it intimidate you and watch out for the salt.
That sounds wonderful, and agree that not all cassoulet has to be complicated. Reminds me of how Bourdain says in his Les Halles book that if you can make a decent meatloaf, you're on your way to being a charcuterie who can whip up country pate!
As a counterpoint though, my Balthazar cookbook says their menu cassoulet takes 6 days total to make (I'm sure most of it is soaking beans, sitting time, etc.), so they've streamlined their cookbook recipe to take just 3 days total. I'm going to try to follow their recipe as much as possible (esp. since it's my first time) to see how it turns out...