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Cassoulet Recipe

Does anyone have a good, hearty and authentic cassoulet recipe they can share? I've tried the Balthazar Cookbok recipe and the Anthony Bourdain/Les Halles Cookbook recipe but neither turned out great. I'm looking for something that's relatively Toulouse authentic but not necessarily as complicated or time consuming as the failed recipes that I've already tried.

I'm truly in love with the cassoulet at Chapeau! in San Francisco but can't seem to find the recipe, and I now live in Arizona. Thanks.

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  1. How different is this one?
    http://travel.discovery.com/tv/bourda...

    Yes, it's Bourdain, but I get the impression Ruhlman had a lot to do with this.

    I also like the looks of this, though I've not made it myself. (It just LOOKS like it has the right ingredients

    )

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

    3 Replies
    1. re: NYChristopher

      The first one is the Bourdain recipe. Actually, Ruhlman and I corresponded via email and he assisted me but I screwed something up along the way!

      1. re: NYChristopher

        um, this first web page won't pull up so can't see it, dang, wanted to do anything bourdain does and does well

      2. A few months ago I set out to make the best cassoulet I could possibly muster, and I researched up and down and sideways. I ended up making a hybrid that took the best elements of Julia Child's MTAOFC recipe, Bittman's from the NYT, Bourdain's from No Reservations, Saveur's and several French online sites. Once you know the technique, it's essentially what you throw in it. The distinctions between Toulouse, Castelnaudary and Carcasonne are really rather indistinct -- everybody makes whatever kind they want there, since historically this was a peasant dish into which you threw whatever pieces of things (sausage, pork, confit, lamb chop, etc.) you had lelft over in your pantry. Good luck. Lots of good ideas here already on CH too if you wish to do a search.

        12 Replies
        1. re: maria lorraine

          I always start with MTAOFC as well. In fact, I have permanent notes in the margin breaking the whole recipe down into three days of prep with serving on the fourth day. Doing one step at a time makes it seem far less complicated, and--as maria lorraine says--it really is the kind of dish into which you put whatever strikes your fancy at the moment.

          When MTAOFC was first published, it was assumed that we in the States had unavailble to us either goose of duck confit or something similar to Toulouse sausage. Even though substitutes for the sausage can now be found farly easily, I still make the receipe she recommends for it just because it's so good

          1. re: maria lorraine

            Thank you. This is a very fine "Introduction." But I'm sure I'm not the only one who's waiting for "the rest of the story." It might begin something like "This is what I ended up with ....."

            It's snowing outside my window right now and I have just printed up the recipe for "Tuscan Style Sausage and White Bean Soup" for tonight. But cassoulet seems like the right thing for this time of year.

            I hope you realize this is said with a smile and nothing but respect for the value of your posts.

            1. re: yayadave

              This is what I ended up with: One of the top 9 or 10 best meals I've ever made in nearly 40 years of cooking. I first made the MTAOFC recipe, as directed including roasting a goose and making my own sausage, about 30 years ago. Someone who was at that dinner party is still talking about it. I've made it a few times since then using purchased duck confit instead of roasting a goose, using pork chops instead of pork loin. Minor stuff. Was determined this year to make it with my own homemade goose confit, but I never was able to find a goose in Manhattan for less than $70, so that idea went down the tubes.

              Funny story: The first time I made cassoulet I was doing the break-the-crust-and-baste bit about every 20 minutes. Guests arrived just as I was about to take it out of the oven. I hung up coats, served drinks, and went to check on the cassoulet in the now lighting appropriate, for a party, kitchen that was a galley off the living room. I lifted the lid of my LC pot and saw black. I put the lid back down. I lifted it again and saw black. Back down again, quickly calculating how much pizza I'd need for 8 people. Needless to say, what was beneath that actually only slightly overdone crust was scrumptious to the last bite. Partly the lighting, partly my own nervousness at making a never-before-attempted recipe for a dinner party. I can't make cassoulet to this day without checking on it far more often than is actually necessary.

              1. re: JoanN

                Joan

                Out of curiosity, Ottomanelli's on Bleeker ... no luck?

                I have read of good butchers in Astoria and Jamaica, but I'm at a loss at the moment as to who specifically.

                Be sure to also read
                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/242873
                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/456908
                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/239441
                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/241984

                1. re: NYChristopher

                  Not sure exactly what you're responding to, NYChristopher. My mention of the goose? It wasn't that I was unable to find it at all, it was that I was unable to find it at a price I was willing to pay. Eager as I was to make my own goose confit, I could not excuse paying $70 for the goose and about another $20 for additional goose fat when I could either buy or make duck confit at a fraction the price.

                  1. re: JoanN

                    I received a Rosengarten email last August about goose confit. He recommends a source for goose parts and goose fat -- Schlitz Farms in SD. 4 leg quarters, weighing 4-5 lbs., cost $14.25. Two pounds of goose fat costs $6.
                    www.gooseproducts.com

                    1. re: emily

                      Wow! That is simply outstanding! Thank you, thank you, thank you! I may finally get my cassoulet with goose confit after all.

                      1. re: emily

                        A bit OT, but do you subscribe to Rosengarten's newsletter? Do you think it's worth it? I'd considered it once or twice but wasn't sure it was for me since I really don't mail order much food or groceries. This tip about mail ordering goose, though, could itself pay for the subscription. Would you recommend it?

                        1. re: JoanN

                          I had a subscription, but got tired of it and didn't find it useful, so I canceled. It's worth noting that they have a great/ridiculous refund policy -- so it's really risk-free. Now I just get his emails, called Tastings, which are sometimes interesting (particularly the goose confit one!). Based on that email, I'll probably be making goose confit rather than duck after I run out of what I brought home from France.

                      2. re: JoanN

                        Yes, trying to find the goose. I would have thought Ottomanelli's might have been a good option.

                  2. re: yayadave

                    Yayadave, thank you for your comments, and the, uh, compliment. There are several reasons I haven't posted my version of cassoulet.

                    One is the sheer length of the recipe -- if you've looked at the one from from MTAOFC, or at Bourdain's, you are probably aware that the length of a definitive cassoulet recipe would easily be a post of three feet on this thread. That's a lot of work typing and transposing. Perhaps you're not aware of the amount of work that recounting a lengthy cassoulet recipe requires.

                    And, in truth, I don't at the moment have the ability to present this in an synopis, as in use the beans technique from Saveur, the fat lining method from Bourdain, the meats mixture from Child, the spicing structure of Wolfert, etc.

                    Second, is that all during the making of cassoulet, the cook has to make decisions as to which techniques and ingredients best suit his purposes. Do I procure and prepare the long sheets of pork fat that line the pan and eventually create the crust, as Bourdain does? Or do I create the crust using the breadcrumbs method, or use both breadcrumbs and fat? Do I forego the fat lining, as many cooks do, but instead incorporate the fat in the layering process of beans and meats?

                    And which meats or combo of meats do I choose to use? If one sticks to the combo of meats and fowl as delineated by area (Toulouse, Castelnaudary and Carcassonne), which area do I choose, or do I mix it up? If I choose to use confit, do I make it ahead of time, or purchase it? What about goose or lamb or partridge? Perhaps I'll choose to add lamb to my cassoulet but the OP or another cook doesn't care for its flavor. If I use duck confit, do I also use goose, or is that overkill? Can I substitute chicken or smoked chicken for the fowl? Is that inauthentic or OK? And, if using pork, is it sausage or pork chops or loin or salt pork or lardons or what? Just to give you an idea of the many questions that a cook will ask himself along the way.

                    Any such answers I would have to those questions would be a reflection of my and my guests' preferences, and wouldn't necessarily reflect the preferences of the OP or another cassoulet cook.

                    So, you see, there's a good deal of sheer effort involved in the typing and posting, and a good deal of individual personalization in the recipe. But the basic premise -- a white bean stew with a variety of meats -- is intact no matter what. Oh, but I forgot -- there's also that pesky issue of tomatoes. Do I add them or not? There are some firm opinions out there on both sides of the issue. See, another permutation. Best to you...Maria

                    1. re: maria lorraine

                      I am amazed at the care you and JoanN invest in making this. Making sausage and confit at home and all the decisions all along the line. And I see more inventiveness from Will Owen. No wonder when you do present it, it is memorable. I think I may just make a bean pot with whatever from time to time, and never say the word “cassoulet.”

                2. You might want to check out Paula Wolfert's "The Cooking of Southwest France". She has 3 cassoulet recipes. I know she talks about Toulouse, so she might even have one that's Toulouse-centered.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: emily

                    My husband does the Paula Wolfert quite faithfully every New Years Day and we have had raves from chefs as well as French friends who say it is the best they've ever had. The keys are to make your own confit, use pork skin to line the bottom of the baking dish, a good saussison a'ail, and don't overcook the beans. The Paula Wolfert recipe is the best we tried, and he's been doing it for 22 years!

                  2. What is the cassoulet at Chapeau like? What was wrong with the versions you made?
                    paulj

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: paulj

                      classic toulouse-style cassoulet. It's the best meal I ever had, and the warm atmosphere and wonderful service there made it even better. I also had a 1976 Bordeaux that was outrageously good and equally as exepensive!

                    2. I don't know if you ever saw the John Burton Race series "French Leave" but he makes an awesome looking cassoulet for the Cassoulet Society (who knew) in France. I haven't made it but am waiting for a few spare days to try.

                      http://www.channel4.com/life/microsit...

                      1. I've posted this before. Still the best I ever made - founded on Wolfert's, Bourdain's, and Julia's recipes, plus a certain amount of careful thought, and no little luck!

                        I started working on this late afternoon - I DID soak the beans, BTW, by the boil-and-quick-soak method. I spread the rest of the process, up to putting it in the oven, over the evening, finishing at 11 pm.

                        2 lbs dried beans
                        1 red onion and 3 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
                        handful of diced bacon
                        olive oil
                        black pepper, dried thyme to taste

                        salt - add later

                        Soak the beans or not, according to your personal feelings on the subject. If you do, drain them before proceeding. Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot, then add the vegetables, bacon and seasonings. Stir and cook over high heat for a minute or so, then reduce the heat and cover the pot for about ten minutes, or until the bacon and onion are both transparent. Then raise the heat back to high, put in the beans, stir well to mix and pour in enough water to cover by 2" if beans were soaked, 4" if cooking from dry. Bring to boil, cover pot and adjust heat to induce a simmer.

                        Cook until beans are just tender and add salt to taste. Continue cooking until they're tender clear through but not mushy, adding boiling water if necessary to keep the top layer covered.

                        olive oil or duck fat
                        3 lbs lamb, neck slices or shanks
                        2-3 slices smoked pork shank
                        cooked or uncooked pork sausages
                        duck or goose confit, optional
                        large can Italian tomatoes in tomato juice
                        breadcrumbs/panko crumbs, optional
                        salt/pepper

                        Oven at 200º

                        Place your braising pot over high heat and put in about 1/4 cup of fat or oil. When the fat is hot, brown the lamb, salting and peppering as you go. You may also brown the pork shank and the confit, if you're using it. Set the meat aside, and pour off the excess fat.

                        Now use a slotted spoon to dip out and spread a layer of beans over the bottom of the pot, about an inch deep. Using your fingers, remove any seeds and tough core from each tomato, and distribute pieces of tomato about a third of them over this bean layer. Put half of the lamb and the pork over this layer. Now spread another layer, this one using half of the remaining beans and half of the remaining tomato, and place the rest of the lamb and pork, and the confit if you're using it, on top of that, then top with the rest of the beans and tomato. Pour the juice from the tomatoes evenly over all of this, then pour in enough of the bean broth to just cover the top. Put the lid on the pot, and place in the center of the oven (with a small cookie sheet under it if your pot is really full), and then go to bed. Set your alarm for 7 to 8 hours...

                        The house will smell very good when you wake up. When you're good and ready, take the casserole out and check out the contents. (Also turn the oven up to 350º at this point). You're going to disturb your layering here, but unless you want to dodge a lot of bone fragments (especially if you used neckbones) you'll have to. So remove the lamb and pork and separate the meat and bones, returning the meat to the pot. You'll probably want to debone the confit, too. Now brown the sausage well, if it's uncooked, and add it to the pot, just nestled in the top layer. Adjust the amount of liquid so that it's just visible below the top beans, then spread on a good layer of crumbs if you're doing that. Put the pot back in the oven uncovered, and cook for another hour. Or so.

                        You can finish this in traditional fashion by breaking up the crumb crust and adding more, but that's never really worked for me. I just run the broiler for a few minutes to brown the top and let it go at that.

                        I'm sure this whole process can be streamlined quite a bit, but I would stress that the long cooking at low heat is the key to winding up with beans that are whole and coherent, but meltingly tender as well. And using lamb neck, which in this case was a last-minute substitution after I could find no shanks anywhere, is in fact a huge improvement.

                        1. Thanks to EVERYONE for your thoughts and comments. I'm out here in Scottsdale, AZ and - by OUR standards it's COLD here (low 60s!) and time for comfort food. I first fell in love with cassoulet at Chapeau!, a small family owned restaurant in the Bay Area. I have been hooked ever since. This year I did the Bourdain recipe with actual assistance from Ruhlman, but I didn't love the result. The recipe is a good one; I just screwed it up. I did confit my own duck, and I did use actual tarbais beans. In the last 3 years I think I've sunk nearly $2,000 into this annual endeavor and I've yet to find what I'm looking for! I really appreciate the overwhelming response this post generated and will give it another try.

                          1. all I can say is that I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this today. just watched the next food network star where a contestant made a cassoulet that BF said was best he'd ever tasted. quite a feat considering she only had 75 minutes to do it. now, I will say she no doubt used canned beans, how could she have done it otherwise. since I'm a collector or cookbooks, when I have time, I'll get out as many as I can carry to my bed, get cozy and start reading up on the ultimate cassoulet. I have several JC cookbooks and hope they help. Don't have any AB cb's yet, but need to get at least one.

                            emily, thanks for posting the gooseproducts.com page so we could benefit from a reasonable price of such items. I neverr knew in all my days, that eating all that pheasant and goose that Norwegian grand father made on regular basis, was so ultimate in expense, wish I could have either of his meals now.

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: iL Divo

                              I'm not an expert, but Elizabeth David has a couple of recipes which seem pretty authentic to me. I'll dig out her books later and post a couple of recipes. Not the weather for cassoulet though!

                              1. re: greedygirl

                                oh I don't care about what type weather we're having, I'm just on a mission is all........................I found this one and it looks pretty good to me

                                http://kitchenmusings.typepad.com/my_...

                                  1. re: greedygirl

                                    greedygirl............you are more than kind to post this link here. I love this blogging lady's take on everything and when not celebrating an occasion here with my husband, will read it all cover to cover/front to back, thank you

                              2. re: iL Divo

                                FN has Lisa's recipe
                                http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/th...
                                The main ingredients are canned cannellini beans and italian sausage. The unusual one is a spinach pesto. The enhancement that she added on the vegas show was duck confit, do doubt bought locally.

                                1. re: paulj

                                  That recipe is wrong on so many levels. Chicken sausage is an American thing for a start - you don't really get it in Europe. Duck/goose confit is a must. And what's with the spinach pesto - an aberration! Ditto the croutons. Call it a hearty bean stew, but not cassoulet.

                                  And cassoulet is one of the few recipes where I wouldn't use tinned beans.

                                  1. re: paulj

                                    yah, bought locally or just grabbed from any number of fines restaurants there that just happened to have it on hand

                                2. Hi, ejs... Not knowing just how complicated the recipes you tried are, I don't know if my recipe will be a turn on or a turn off. I also don't know whether it's "Talouse authentic", but a French girlfriend taught me how to make it about fifty years ago. She was from Paris, but she cooked "all things French. You'll find my directions (can't really call it a recipe as much as directions) as the bottom recipe here:
                                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/475667

                                  You'll also find another cassoulet recipe there. And if you do a search (here or Google) for "cassoulet" or even "Toulouse cassoulet", who knows what you may find!

                                  1. Use the one in Great Dinners from Life. This book is a must have for any kind of "heroic" dish. Leaf thru the book and you will see what I mean.

                                    1. I've made this version, and it's very easy and great tasting...

                                      http://www.theamateurgourmet.com/2008...

                                      1. Ariane has a nice recipe on her web site but it is Gascony based not Toulouse.

                                        http://www.dartagnan.com/recipe.asp?i...

                                        1. one thing I must say here is that I am so happy that this post was ever done. I enjoy reading each and every new post here and the recipes are all simply a wonder to my eyes. so many to do over the next several months, I can hardly wait...now, the Great Dinners from Life, is that posted here with my eyes not being able to find?

                                          1. I made the cassoulet recipe from the Silver Palate cookbook and found it to be very hearty and authentic. It did take me pretty much all day to make it, but I saved it for a wintry, cold day and had lots of fun putting it together. You might want to take a look at that recipe though you already have a number of great suggestions.

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: JenBoes

                                              I googled this and if I've got the right one it's also referred to as black bean soup. Is that the one you meant here?^^^
                                              http://www.google.com/search?client=f...

                                              1. re: iL Divo

                                                That's not the one. I have that cookbook in Maine otherwise I could give you the exact name. When I go back in September, I'll send it to you.

                                                1. re: JenBoes

                                                  oh that'd be great, thanks JenBoes, I'll bookmark this page as a friendly reminder in Sept, which I guess is right around the corner

                                                  1. re: iL Divo

                                                    The recipe in the Silver Palate cookbook is simply called "Cassoulet." Ingredients include white beans, duck, lamb and lamb bones, salt pork, bacon fat, garlic sausage, some vegetables and spices, etc. It is "authentic," as the cookbook says, and really hearty. It's best served on a cold winter day after you've really worked up an appetite skiing, snowshoeing, etc. It took me almost all day to make it, but it actually tasted better the second day.