I was discussing, on Facebook this past week, the fact that I couldn’t find my favorite cassoulet recipe. My husband, bless him, dug through my many cookbooks and a three-inch, 3-ring binder of recipes, and found it for me. As several people wanted a copy of the recipe, I decided to put it here. Enjoy!
Christine’s Cassoulet – Made on November 4, 2017
This recipe is an amalgamation of what I remember from the Food & Wine version, and from a version that I found on the Internet in September 2004, on a website that no longer exists (yes, we checked). My husband found the printed version after I bemoaned the fact that I couldn’t find my original F&W recipe. However, I love this one, as it sticks close to the F&W recipe. I’ve made several changes, as noted.
Time: 30-45 minutes preparation time. At least 8 hours in a crock pot on low.
Servings: At least 8, possibly 10. It’s a terrific wintertime meal with good friends. Just pair with a crusty French bread and a good red wine, and you’ll have a meal that will make memories.
½ pound small white navy beans (can substitute 2 cans white beans if you forget to buy the navy beans…which I have).
4+ cloves garlic, peeled and crushed, plus 2+ cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, cut into chunks or rounds, as you prefer
2 cups cored and chopped tomatoes, with their juices, or canned diced tomatoes
3 or 4 sprigs fresh thyme, or ½ teaspoon dried thyme
2 – 3 bay leaves
¼ pound salt pork in 1 piece
Note: If you can’t find salt pork, use ¼ pound whole slab bacon. If you can’t find that, use 5 or 6 bacon slices.
4 sausages I’ve used sweet Italian, or chicken apple sausages – you can also use spicy Italian if that’s your style
1 pound boneless pork – shoulder, boneless rib meat, pork chops (whatever you can find)
1 turkey leg (or 2 duck legs, if you can find them, or 4 chicken legs)
½ pound any type of good beef steak (or stew meat)
Note: The second or third time I made this, I forgot what type of meat I needed to put into the cassoulet, and bought a steak. After I got home I realized it didn’t call for steak – but I used it anyway, and I find it gives the whole dish an added boost of flavor.
Chicken, beef, or vegetable stock, or water, or a mixture, as needed…probably 4 – 6 cups
Salt & fresh ground pepper to taste
Fresh chopped parsley for garnish
Chop all veggies.
Brown all meats (including the salt pork) in a large skillet and transfer them to the crock pot.
Add crushed garlic, chopped onions, and chopped carrots into the crock pot. Add beans, tomatoes, thyme, and bay leaves.
Add stock mixture to cover by 2 inches, IF possible, as your large crock pot will be full. Cover, and cook on low for 8 hours (high for 5 hours). Don’t feel like you have to be home the entire time – go out! Have fun! Enjoy! When you get home, your kitchen will smell like heaven, I promise you!
<– I like adding 1/2 chicken bone broth, and 1/2 beef bone broth.
Note: Most cassoulet recipes that I’ve found have you leave all the meats whole when serving. When I first made this recipe in the late 1990s, I had two boys who were under the age of 10. Leaving anything whole, in a hot broth, was not practical. Therefore…
After 8 hours, when the meat is falling off the bone of the turkey leg, pull all the meats out of the crockpot and let cool enough to touch, while setting the crockpot to “Warm.” Once the meat is cool, shred the meat, extracting any fat and bones, and put all the meat back into the crockpot. Feel free to give the extra fats and skins to the dog. He’ll thank you for it.
Taste the broth – it should be rich and meaty, and need little extra seasoning. However, add the reserved minced garlic, and S&P to taste if needed (this one didn’t). Keep on warm until you’re ready to eat.
Note: The French typically put a breadcrumb crust on this. I never have, and I’ve never missed it. But if you wish, by all means, please do!
Note: This recipe can also be made in a Dutch oven; do everything in one pot, including sautéing the onions and carrots and garlic in the fat left behind by browning the meats. Cover with stock by 2 inches; cook on low for at least 5 hours. Check to see if the meat is falling off the bone before you take it off the heat.