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Jan 23, 2008 06:55 PM

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?

    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


    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


                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

                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.

                    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?

                    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.