Easy Cassoulet Recipe
Try this easy delicious cassoulet recipe and you will be amazed! It’s homemade and you can make it in large batches if you have a hungry large family like mine 🙂
While Julia Child waxes rhapsodic about a perfect, authentic Cassoulet prepared with lamb and homemade pork sausage cakes over a three day period of time in her cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, page 399, few American home cooks are going to take on this challenge! In Toulouse, in the Southwest of France, Cassoulet is made with preserved goose and sausages that are specific to that region, as well.
Geese are plentiful in Toulouse, since this is the region that provides foie gras, those buttery, incredible, plump goose livers! One of my favorite good-reads of all time is A Goose in Toulouse, by Mort Rosenblum, published in 2000, and Mort describes a Cassoulet that he had in Toulouse made with Duck Confit, or duck prepared and potted in its own fat, with a layer of duck fat added at the end to crisp up the crusty top layer of this casserole, and duck so tender that a straw can be passed through to the bone.
But, Cassoulet is not fancy French food! Think of Boston Baked Beans! Cassoulet is a peasant, farm-driven dish, made with white beans and a variety of meats and vegetables and herbs, baked slowly in a rich broth in the oven and occasionally stirred about until there is a deep brown crust on top. I have found through practice, that you can produce a very rich, delicious, economical, and comforting Cassoulet in far less than three days and using common ingredients.
I have borrowed some ideas from Sara Moulton, a disciple of Julia’s and a very talented chef in her own right, and one of the masters at simplifying French cooking for Americans, Chef Jacques Pepin.
Easy Homemade Cassoulet Recipe
- 8 chicken thighs, on the bone, skin on
- 1 pound of pork sausage of your choice (I used a special boar sausage from my local Italian butcher, because it has a very rich pork flavor and a hint of clove)
- ¼ pound salt pork
- 2 large sweet onions chopped coarsely
- 5 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary or 1 Tablespoon dried
- 2 Tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, or 1 Tablespoon dried
- 2 and ½ teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 1 and ½ cups chicken stock or broth
- 2 hefty Tablespoons Dijon mustard (or, you can use tomato paste, your choice, depending on the flavor you wish to have)
- 3 – 19 ounce cans of cannellini beans, drained
- Use a 5 quart, shallow, round enamel over cast iron Dutch oven or cocotte. This is a slow cook method, so you need a pot or casserole that is appropriate for this method.
- Over medium high heat, render the salt pork until it gives off its lovely fat. Salt the chicken pieces generously, and brown them on both sides until richly browned, about 4-5 minutes each side.
- Remove them from he pan, and add the sausages and onion. Brown the sausages and onion for about 6-7 minutes.
- Add the wine and deglaze the pan, scraping up the brown fond on the bottom of the pot.
- Add the stock or broth, the herbs, the mustard or tomato paste, salt and pepper.
- Mash one can of the beans with all of the garlic and a pinch of salt. Add this mixture to the pot.
- Add the remaining 2 cans of drained beans to the pot, and place the chicken pieces back into the pot, nestling all of the meats into the beans and liquid.
- Place the pot, uncovered into a 300 degree F oven and bake for about 2 and ½ -3 hours. Sit, relax, read a good book or watch a few favorite episodes of Downton Abbey or The Good Wife!
The rich aromas of roasting meats, herbs, garlic, wine and broth are so appealing! Midway through cooking, take a wooden spoon and just crack the crust that has formed on top of the casserole–don’t stir–and then finish cooking. When it is done, you will have a dark crust on top, not unlike Boston baked beans!
All you need to accompany this very hearty, richly flavorful Cassoulet is a glass of red wine, a simple green salad, ad some crusty baguette!
The beans are creamy and soaked in the porky-garlicky, herbaceous broth; the chicken thighs are buttery tender; the boar sausage is a very rich pork sausage that has some clove added, which is perfect–some Cassoulet recipes actually have clove as an ingredient for spice. However, you can use a smoked sausage if you prefer, or an Italian sausage, or whatever flavorful sausage that you prefer.
Readers, please share your favorite renditions of Cassoulet or your comments about the recipe and about experiences preparing Cassoulet in the Comments box at the conclusion of the post.