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What to serve with cassoulet?

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It's hard for me to imagine eating anything in addition to cassoulet it's so heavy, but I also can't quite wrap my mind around just putting out a big dish of it with no sides. Julia Child recommends pineapple for dessert, I'm guessing because it's refreshing and because of the digestive enzymes :-), but what to serve alongside?

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  1. A green salad with a sharp vinaigrette.

    1 Reply
    1. re: KTinNYC

      yes! be sure to use a strong crisp lettuce like Romaine....soft lettuces just wimp out next to cassoulet....

    2. At a recent dinner party the hostess rounded out a meat-heavy menu with a salad of arugala, red onion, and fresh figs. Really hit the spot.

      1. Ha! In googling 'arugula' to confirm I spelled it wrong in above post, I came across this recipe for ARUGULA, FENNEL, APPLE, MANDARIN ORANGE, AND POMEGRANATE SALAD which sounds like another really nice possibility.

        http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/rec...

        1. Nothing is ever served with cassoulet.

          A salad as a separate course after the cassoulet is nice.

          Fruit is an appropriate dessert, but I have to say that when I spent a winter month in Paris and was eating cassoulet three times a week, I usually went for a fancy dessert, for example a gratineed chocolate-mandarin orange souffle.

          1. Yup, salad is all I ever serve with cassoulet, the simpler the better, just greens with oil & vinegar and a sprinkling of good coarse salt.

            Oh, and bread for mopping the plate if necessary.

            1. Thanks everyone. Jen, that sounds like the perfect seasonal salad. Since it will be a buffet, the salad (and baguettes for mopping) will go on the table at the same time as the cassoulet and people can pace their meal as they wish.

              Funny, Robert, I was thinking about making a flourless chocolate orange cake for dessert. Cassoulet 3 times a week, oof. If you haven't seen it, Julia Child's essay preceding the cassoulet recipe in Julia Child and More Company is a hoot, identifying as the ideal cassoulet audience linebackers splitting wood in subzero temperatures.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Pistou

                I would have eaten it more often if it weren't for confit with fried potatoes. We did go to the gym every day.

                A tarte tatin would be a nice dessert this time of year.

              2. After a really filling meal, I often think 1 or 2 pieces of good chocolate would be enough dessert....at least, for a couple of hours.

                1. I spent a month in Carcassone, Toulouse and environs a while back and had Cassoulet almost every day.

                  When I returned, I never wanted to see Cassoulet again! After a drying out period of a few years, I rediscovered Cassoulet, made it at home and in restaurants.

                  Cassoulet is never served with accompaniments. It is a rich, gorgous dish, complex, satisfying, containing all the elements of a great meal in one dish.

                  When serving at home, a simple salad is great as a first course. A fruit tart, or something light, without butter, is the perfect finish.

                  I am always looking for the authentic restaurant Cassoulet. Cafe des Artistes in NY is pretty good. Any other addresses are welcome.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Fleur

                    Have you tried the cassoulet at Gascogne, 8th Avenue between 17th & 18th? Haven't had the cassoulet at Cafe des Artistes in years, but if memory taste serves it's just about as good. And if not, it's a wonderful restaurant with a charming atmosphere and an excellent wine list.

                  2. About 15 years ago, with a group of serious eating friends, we started having a serious Sunday lunch in winter featuring a cassoulet. Over the years the following has emerged as THE preferred combination of courses (with many debts to Chez Panisse and Alice Waters thinking on the subject):

                    A glass of champagne as an aperativ

                    An array of vegetable hors d'oeuvres -- celeriac in a mustard-flavoured cream or egg-based dressing, a beet and citrus salad, and a green salad with frisse and other bitter greens

                    The cassoulet - absolutely on its own -- with a moderately weighty red -- we generally lean towards a Cotes du Rhone or an Oregan pinot noir.

                    Assorted fruit sorbets and sherberts for a dessert -- one of our team is a master at desserts so ours are homemade, but Ciao Bella or similar are fine -- served with a glass of Sauternes.

                    Nothing better on a cold winters day

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: seniorgriggle

                      Can't beat Madiran with cassoulet.

                      Serving salade before the plat is an American abomination. Though crudités are of course a perfectly suitable entrée.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        Is it an abomination in the gustatory sense, digestive sense, traditional sense, or other? I like salad apres the main course. But I don't know what makes it so very unacceptable as an appetizer. The right sort of salad does a much better job kicking off a night of gastronomical pleasure for me than most other sorts of appetizers can. The American way is different, oui. Mais c'est un abomination? Mon dieu, absolutement non!

                        1. re: JenMarie66

                          I understand the salad-first started as a restaurant thing. Give the customers something to do until the main course arrives.

                    2. Very thinly sliced cucumbers with a light ginger dressing is how our fav local restaurant serves Cassoulet. Oh! and a nice slice of homebread bread with fresh butter.