what to serve with cassoulet and cooking tips
I ordered the D'Artagnan Cassoulet kit and am planning on making this weekend. Any recommendations on what to serve with the cassoulet or tips for cooking? Can this be made the day before? Thanks so much!
Just kidding! (Allusion to Paula Wolfert's book where she traveled thru SW France trying local cassoulets constantly, and missed many a night's sleep as her digestion coped with a whole constellation of unaccustomed beans and mixed and preserved meats -- far more than anyone will encounter in a single cassoulet, and constantly changing, so her digestive enzymes could never catch up. We all owe a debt to such brave explorers...) Anyway, nowadays, Beano™ taken with the meal is a much more effective preventative, for any digestions not yet acclimated, and it's without bismuth's side effects.
I find that virtually ALL stews (including cassoulets, of which I've made many versions and improvisations) improve on cooling and reheating the next day, so whenever possible, I deliberately make them a day ahead. The only specific pitfall I've experienced when making cassoulets is that, since they contain beans, some bean types can cook rather quickly and then they tend to disintegrate with longer stewing. But it depends on the bean type -- they vary amazingly in cooking time -- and if you're using a specific tested recipe or kit, it should have that detail worked out.
Something simple and absorbent like good fresh French bread goes well with cassoulets. (And with choucroutes, potées, Plockfinckens, etc. etc.) Cassoulets are very hearty, filling, satisfying, cold-weather food.
Yes, the cassoulet absolutely can be made the day before - it will be better made a day ahead.
Beyond eatzalot's bread suggestion, and since the cassoulet is fatty and rich, an acidic and fresh side dish would be a nice accompaniment. A simple green salad would be my preference. Any side dish should be fresh and light, since the stew is quite heavy.
I concur with the recommendation for a bitter greens salad and the special care with the beans. If you plan on making the dish in advance and reheating it later, be especially sure you do not overcook the beans because they would cook or disintegrate further on heating. That happened to the one I made with lingot beans I used recently, although of course it still tasted heavenly.
One of my favourite ways to have cassoulet is serve it au gratin, i.e. browned under the broiler.
And the most important tip of all, is to serve it when the weather is cold. Such a welcome, comforting treat in that kind of weather.