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.
Food & Wine Magazine did it again. They totally seduced me. I mean, I love to make fun of how out of touch they are with the “little folk” who don’t have $80 to plunk down on a wine. And the recipes? Don’t get me started. Half of them require ingredients that you need to crawl up a Himalayan mountain and see the guy in the second yurt on the left in order to find them. Or hit up six specialty stores, depending on your neighborhood.
But every now and then, they’ll showcase a recipe that looks easy. Panade? Well, maybe not. BUT – call it a Tomato, Chard and Gruyere Casserole, and you’ve hooked me. How easy can that be?
Six hours after I started shopping for ingredients, the darn thing is in the oven. (Okay, so I went along the untrodden pathways to find the freshest tomatoes at little roadside stands. So it took awhile. Cutting up the chard? That took forever!) Unfortunately, the first roadside stand is where I bought my tomatoes. It was also the biggest roadside stand, the most commercial stand, and the most expensive stand. It is not a place I will go to again.
But the ingredients, by themselves, weren’t expensive, except for the gruyere cheese. $21 a pound! I bought just under half a pound, since I knew I had some in the fridge – but still, $8.50 for a tiny sliver of CHEESE? I’m thinking, the next time I’ll make it with swiss cheese, and whatever else I may happen to have in the fridge.
So you butter a casserole, layer in the day old peasant bread (which I cut the minute we got home and let just sit out), then layer in thickly-cut fresh tomatoes, then the cooked chard/onion mix (oh, go ahead and look it up – you KNOW you want to!), plus the aforementioned gruyere. Repeat, and end with the last of the bread. Then you do some magic to it (get the recipe!) and put it in the oven. For an hour. And a bit.
See? It’s a sandwich. Sigh.
When I showed the photo of the casserole to my oldest son, he said to me, “Oh. A sandwich.”
I felt like such an idiot. Because duh, this is exactly that. A sandwich. True, a hot sandwich with no meat in it and a nifty sense of France, but still…a sandwich. With expensive and yummy cheese in it.
Seduced again by Food & Wine. (Recipe, page 100 of the August 2012 Food & Wine Magazine)
What are you cooking this week?
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Hey, all month I’m over at The Romance Reviews for their Sizzling Summer Event! http://www.theromancereviews.com/event.php
Lots of contests and freebies and Author Chats – I’m there Saturday, July 14th. Drop on by and say “hey” !
When the world is in an uproar, there’s something about cooking that, for me, is comforting. Even better is when the recipe takes simple ingredients and a bit of work – chopping, stirring, cooking time over an hour or so. This past weekend I indulged and cooked two fairly simple dishes that took some time.
On Saturday, I was scrolling for “healthy vegetable recipes”, and came across one for Mushroom Sugo over at Simply Recipes. Intrigued, I looked further, and they had me at the first sentence…”The onions cook for a long time…” bingo. Just what I was looking for.
(Doesn’t this look yummy? And it’s NOT a beef dish!)
Scanning the ingredients – dried porcini mushrooms, onions, carrots, celery, garlic, parsley, a bunch of other fresh herbs, wine, etc – I could almost smell the rich scent in my kitchen. So when it came time to head off to the store to buy my new dishwasher, I took the recipe with us.
Unfortunately, the dishwasher drama took longer than I thought it would. Then finding Porcini mushrooms was another epic drama – three stores. THREE. In Southern California, no less.
But finally, I got home with everything I needed, and I began chopping. Whoops, change that to mincing, which takes four times as long as chopping. Half way through the forest of vegetables I had to mince, I was now thoroughly irritated with myself and everyone around me (except the cat). I had envisioned starting the dish around two in the afternoon, never mind the fact that we didn’t even set out to shop until 3:30p. Mincing onions that needed to cook for 40 minutes at 6:30p wasn’t my idea of a good time.
Anyway – the onions eventually turned a deep goldeny brown color, all the other vegetables were minced in good order, everything got put into the pot at the appropriate time, and finally – finally! – I was able to sit back, exhausted, and enjoy the scents wafting from the covered pot on the stove. It needed to simmer for 90 minutes.
What I received, as a thank you for all that chopping? A wonderful, thick, gravy-like bit of vegetable nirvana. I served it over rotini and backed it with a terrific Zinfandel, but it would be fabulous on top of a broiled chicken breast, or as a sauce on mashed potatoes. The porcini liquid (from soaking the mushrooms) added a richness usually found in beef dishes, and the flavor from all those onions, carrots, celery and garlic melded with the mushrooms to make a winter night glow. I definitely give this recipe a “You Gotta Try It!”
On Sunday, I made Braised Root Vegetables and Cabbage with Fall Fruit – wanting to stay in that hearty-but-healthy mode – from Food & Wine’s website. A medley of onions, carrots, radishes, turnips, Savoy cabbage, apples and pears, it was surprisingly mellow and tasty, and nothing needed to be minced – so it was quick to chop those vegetables, too. Ten minutes on the stove top and half an hour in the oven, and it was a fabulous complement to our steak dinner. On Monday night, it did double duty – heated up, it went great over pasta with a sprinkling of fresh parmesan cheese. This recipe, too, gets a “You Gotta Try It!”
So there you go – two hearty vegetable recipes. I swore the next time I made the Mushroom Sugo, I’d make a triple batch, teach the teens how to mince, and then freeze most of it for heating up in the depths of deadlines – but that would also mean getting a bigger refrigerator/freezer. Which is a different posting, all together. Until next time, here’s to eating healthy and drinking responsibly!
The Autumnal Equinox comes September 23rd – it’s time to get ready.
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