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Cassoulet HELP!

I'm undertaking my first cassoulet to be served on Saturday. I began the soaking of the beans last night. I cannot continue with the steps until late this afternoon. After I've drained the beans, do I need to recover them with water for today until I come home, refrigerate them, or just leave them out at room temp? Sorry to be so naive on this - thanks!

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  1. Just leave them in the soaking water until you are ready to cook them at room temperature. Drain them when you are starting your cooking process.

    I have been cooking soaked beans every 2 weeks for minestrone for the last 6 years. I cook the soup in an 8 quart stockpot with enough ingredients to make a 2 week supply. The minestrone is eaten, one bowl per day, to lower my cholesterol.

    I went into these details to let you know I know my beans.

    2 Replies
    1. re: ChiliDude

      Chili dude, I think you have posted the recipe before, but would you mind doing so again?

      1. re: magiesmom

        Basic Minestrone Soup (Arrabbiato minestrone denso if including hot peppers)

        This recipe usually produces a soup that is thick like stew (stoup?). It is just to be used as a guide and not chiseled in stone. Variations on this theme are encouraged to prevent boredom from consuming a bowl of this stoup each morning.

        Ingredients

        2 sweet potatoes (about 2 pounds total)
        1 cup each of 2 kinds of dried beans*
        Olive oil**, enough to cover the bottom of a large stockpot
        1 medium to large onion, diced
        2 celery ribs, diced
        1 bell pepper, any color, diced****
        2 or 3 sliced carrots
        Several garlic cloves, minced
        ⅓ cup lentils
        ⅓ cup split peas
        ⅓ cup barley
        1 28-oz. can of tomato puree or crushed tomatoes
        1 small head of cabbage (about 2 or 3 pounds), chopped***
        Salt and ground black pepper to taste (I don’t add either, tomato sauce contains salt)

        Preparation

        Bake the sweet potatoes the night before making the minestrone until very soft, cool them, peel them and mash them in a dish to be refrigerated over night.

        Examine beans for foreign matter and discard such matter. Place in a small sauce pan (3 or 5 quart capacity). Soak the beans in water for about 6 hours or overnight. Drain soaking water, add more water, stir and drain one more time. Add plenty of water to beans, bring to a boil, turn heat to simmer and partially cover pot. Simmer for about ½ hour, turn off heat, and cover pot.

        Add oil to a 5-quart stockpot or larger preheated at medium heat. When oil shimmers in the pot, add onion, celery, bell pepper, carrots and garlic. Sauté (or sweat) the vegetables until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes, stirring often.

        Add the tomato and the mashed sweet potatoes to pot and stir well. Add cooked beans and the liquid in which they were cooked to the vegetables. Rinse the lentils, split peas and barley in a strainer before adding to the mixture. Note that barley expands upon cooking so do not use too much. Add the cabbage to the pot and again, stir well. Allow the soup to simmer for at least 45 minutes to make sure that the beans, lentils, peas and barley are fully cooked.

        Makes 8 to 10 servings (for breakfast)

        *Navy beans, pinto beans, red beans, garbanzo beans, etc.
        **Other oil such as canola oil can be substituted.
        ***Any cruciferous vegetable (broccoli, kale, collards, Chinese cabbage, etc.) can be used.
        Any frozen package(s) can be used instead of fresh.
        **** I use any source of ground hot red pepper such as cayenne or other varieties instead of bell peppers.

        Note: Sometimes other ingredients such as leftovers are included like meat gravy, chard or kale reserved midribs that have been removed before cooking, sometimes leftover homemade vegetable stock and the puree made from the overcooked vegetables, etc. This recipe is not etched

    2. Thanks very much! I don't know why, but I am very nervous about making this dish -

      1. I think I would leave them in the refrigerator.... Less chance of sprouting the beans!

        I know how you feel, my first "real" cassoulet came from a month of research, a combination of 10 recipes, and a $$$ kit from d'Artagnan. In hind site .. Beans, sausage, duck... It's hard to not have it be good!

        1 Reply
        1. re: firecooked

          I wouldn't worry about refrigerating the beans. They aren't likely to 'sprout' in a day.
          I too know what it's like to 'obsess' over this dish.
          At one point I got so obsessed with getting everything perfect I special ordered 'Tarbais' beans from 'Tarbais' France.
          When I got them they didn't look much different than ordinary white navy beans. Except for the price. (Won't do that again).
          TB's Les Halles cook book has the recipe I use.

        2. I saw once on Spanish tv an interview with the owner of one of the prepared bean sellers in the Boqueria market in Barcelona. Her instructions were to use the soaking water, plus onion and bay leaf for cooking beans (as if you were poaching a chicken). The aromatics really make a big difference in the finished bean.

          1. I'd drain, cover tightly & refrigerate so they don't sprout. Why did you start soaking the beans so far ahead?

            BTW - I've been making cassoulet for about 30 years and quit soaking the beans decades ago. Just bring to a boil, shut off the heat and let sit for an hour while you're doing the prep work for the cassoulet. Drain & cook, but be careful not to overcook -- most recipes seem to call for much too long a cooking time and you wind up with mush.

            2 Replies
            1. re: rjbh20

              I know everyone has his/her own opinion but I think the beans in cassoulet are supposed to be very tender/soft. Good fresh beans will cook nicely and not fall apart before they get that way.
              I always cringe when I taste the to-me-undercooked beans that seem to be a hit at every NYC "French bistro" I've been to (and I have a brother who loves those places, so I've tasted a few.)

              1. re: caganer

                I concur that undercooked, crunchy beans are unpalatable, but there's a fine line between tender beans that still have individual bean integrity and the pasty mush you get if they're overcooked. This, BTW, is the only hard part about cassoulet -- getting all the components to the finish line at the same time.

            2. firecooked, I got the D'Artagnan kit too - I figure with good ingredients it's hard to mess up - at least I hope so!
              They're currently sitting out - I'll check them after work around 3 :00 -

              cagner - I have their second batch of water, but the first was dumped this a.m. - boo hoo!

              1 Reply
              1. re: travelluver

                I think the onion/bay leaf are the really important part anyway.

              2. Now I am nervous.. the Paula W recipe said to start at this time frame, I am going to finish cooking tonight. They are currently at room temp, what is "Sprouting"? _ sorry I am not a bean eater normally - did I do something wrong???

                4 Replies
                1. re: travelluver

                  Sprouting is just what it sounds like -- the beans think they've been planted and start to grow.

                  1. re: travelluver

                    Do not worry.
                    Since beans are seeds they will EVENTUALlLy sprout, like in many days.
                    Cassoulet is easy. Really.

                    1. re: magiesmom

                      I agree that cassoulet is REALLY easy. I stressed about my first one, but have made it many times since then and after some advance prep I find it's one of the easiest casserole dishes to make. Caloric as hell, but oh so good.

                    2. re: travelluver

                      You wouldn't have to worry about sprouting at this point in the process unless you had added really hot water to the beans and lived in an exceptionally warm climate. I presume you didn't do this, so rest assured, you don't have a problem.

                    3. Puffin, thanks - here's a sigh of relief! In my kit I did get the Tarbais beans, but admit they look like regular navy beans though as mentioned, I am a bean novice. Cagner, I know that onions and bay leaf are in my recipe so hopefully, I've got that covered! I'll let everyone know on Sunday how I fared...I have PLENTY of good wine (I'm in the biz) so if it falters, we'll just drink more!

                      1. I'm making my first cassoulet today, too. Using Tarbais beans, Bourdain says soak them overnight, cook beans on day two. Some recipes say to even allow cooked beans to flavor up overnight, so I guess this can be quite flexible. If you drain beans and seal them in a ziplock, it should keep them moist until you're ready to proceed.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: ScottnZelda

                          Don't drain them until you're ready to cook them. They'll be fine, and they won't sprout. You'd have to leave them on the counter several days for that to occur.

                          1. re: WhyFrenchFood

                            Just curious. What's your opinion about the difference in flavor of the tarbais beans compared to plain old white navy beans?

                            1. re: Puffin3

                              I spend a few hundred euros a year buying beans on my bi-annual visits to Spain. I'm a little crazy about beans, but I have to say that when buying fancy beans, freshness is usually a the key factor in their quality.

                              All else being equal, cassoulet made with new-crop navy beans from the supermarket will always be better than that made with 2 year old Tarbais.

                              There are only a few species of what we call beans, most cultivars of the same species are pretty similar in flavor. Some have thinner skins, which is a usually preferable only if they are relatively fresh - old thin skinned beans will fall apart by the time they're done.

                              I've compared €20/kilo black beans from Tolosa and €7/kilo black beans from Leon, both from the most recent crop, and really the Tolosa beans might have been a little darker but that's about it; there was no striking difference in flavor.

                          2. ScottnZelda, that's what I read too, so soaking last night and cooking tonight to have the flavors marry overnight again before serving on Sat.