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  • Cassoulet

    Post #1 - November 26th, 2006, 8:23 am
    Post #1 - November 26th, 2006, 8:23 am Post #1 - November 26th, 2006, 8:23 am
    A week in the preparation (although only a few hours of actual hands-on time which produced 3 meals of cassoulet and enough sausage and duck confit for a few other meals):

    Image

    Among the ingredients:

    French Tarbais beans: expensive and not easy to find, these were fine tasting beans, but after long cooking in the stew, I really couldn't taste anything special. Next time I'll try white emergo beans which are much less expensive.

    Duck confit: See the thread Why a duck? where I prepare these sous vide. Fried in their fat to until crispy, the confit was to the pot added near the end.

    Toulouse Sausage

    Made with fresh and cured pork, coarsely ground with spices. Next time I'll grind it a little finer. Browned in duck fat and added to the pot near the end. A great sausage. Plenty leftover - will use for sausage and cabbage cake.

    Cured Pork Belly

    Cubes were mixed with salt, garlic, thyme, etc.

    Image

    The stew was prepared the day before in a dutch oven. It was reheated in individual small crocks with bread crumbs tossed with duck fat on the top until the crumbs were brown and the stew bubbly. One advantage of serving this way is that I could make sure each crock had plenty of sausage and duck, A little walnut oil was drizzled on just before serving.

    Served with slices of crusty bread, freshly baked and a Cabernet Franc.

    Bill/SFNM
  • Post #2 - November 26th, 2006, 8:51 am
    Post #2 - November 26th, 2006, 8:51 am Post #2 - November 26th, 2006, 8:51 am
    Bill, that looks like great cassoulet. Beautiful pictures. I'd love to hop down there from Tahoe to try one. Once a year I tackle that myself, using a recipe from Paula Wolfert's Cooking of Southwest France. It was a little easier in Chicago where I had greater access to interesting sausages and pork skin. I'm impressed that you solve that problem by making your own sausage. I use the more traditional method of cooking duck confit, but generally prepare that a month before serving, so as to let it nicely ripen. However, instead of using the leg/thigh portion, I prefer boneless duck breasts, which produce more of that delicious meat.
  • Post #3 - November 26th, 2006, 9:13 am
    Post #3 - November 26th, 2006, 9:13 am Post #3 - November 26th, 2006, 9:13 am
    RevrendAndy wrote:I'm impressed that you solve that problem by making your own sausage.


    Thanks, Rev. The sausage was based on the Toulouse Sausage recipe in Paula Wolfert's book that you mention, although I used fattier meats to ensure a juicy sausage - nothing worse than dry sausage. I look for any excuse to make sausage - it is just so much fun (Did you ever see the Seinfeld episode where Kramer and Newman get into sausage making?)

    I've been meaning to try confit with the breast. Thanks!

    Bill/SFNM
  • Post #4 - November 26th, 2006, 9:54 am
    Post #4 - November 26th, 2006, 9:54 am Post #4 - November 26th, 2006, 9:54 am
    Bill,

    Good gracious your cassoulet looks delicious, as did the duck pictures you posted a few days ago.

    The Rev makes a mean cassoulet, consistently one of the best I've ever had the pleasure of eating, though I'd dearly love to do a one on one with yours.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    Hold my beer . . .

    Low & Slow
  • Post #5 - November 26th, 2006, 9:55 am
    Post #5 - November 26th, 2006, 9:55 am Post #5 - November 26th, 2006, 9:55 am
    I've had some sausage making experience while in the past but haven't tackled it since moving away from my sausage making partner GWiv. Every so often we would buy pounds of pork and other ingredients and make cajun boudin and Italian sausage. I use a nice kielbasa and lamb merguez in my cassoulet.
  • Post #6 - November 26th, 2006, 11:32 am
    Post #6 - November 26th, 2006, 11:32 am Post #6 - November 26th, 2006, 11:32 am
    Looks fantastic, Bill.

    Have you ever tried making the duck confit in the traditional fashion?

    In my more prolific and ambitious cooking days, I was a huge fan of this dish. Since I had never heard of the sous vide method back then, I always did it by traditional methods, in essence, super slow cooking the duck in its own fat and then preserving it in my cellar for many weeks. Doesn't the cellaring of the meat make a significant difference in flavor and texture when doing confit? I know it's much more labor intensive but...

    Has anyone who has tried both methods of preparation have an opinion?

    Beautiful Post.
  • Post #7 - November 26th, 2006, 11:45 am
    Post #7 - November 26th, 2006, 11:45 am Post #7 - November 26th, 2006, 11:45 am
    PIGMON wrote:Looks fantastic, Bill.

    Has anyone who has tried both methods of preparation have an opinion?


    Thanks, PIGMON.

    Prior to the latest batch, I have always done confit the traditional way, slowly cooked in fat. I have also tried aging after cooking, but must admit I rarely have the patience to let it go past a week or two. Yes, it improves the flavor and texture, but I am weak.

    Bill/SFNM
  • Post #8 - November 26th, 2006, 12:30 pm
    Post #8 - November 26th, 2006, 12:30 pm Post #8 - November 26th, 2006, 12:30 pm
    G Wiv wrote:
    The Rev makes a mean cassoulet, consistently one of the best I've ever had the pleasure of eating, though I'd dearly love to do a one on one with yours.



    Gary,

    I am in the early stages of my cassoulet infatuation, so give me a few years before I have to compete. Perhaps we can meet up for a cassoupalooza: You make the sausage, PIGMON does the confit, Rev makes the cassoulet and I'll make the bread. I say that because the bread I baked up for yesterday's stew was more of an afterthought, just my standard baguette dough using my pizza starter - but the flavor and texture were perfectly matched for the stew. I couldn't get over how much the two combined for a spectacular effect. Much like matching wine to the food, there is something to be said for selecting a specific bread to accompany a meal.

    Bill/SFNM
  • Post #9 - November 26th, 2006, 2:06 pm
    Post #9 - November 26th, 2006, 2:06 pm Post #9 - November 26th, 2006, 2:06 pm
    Bill/SFNM wrote:
    G Wiv wrote:
    The Rev makes a mean cassoulet, consistently one of the best I've ever had the pleasure of eating, though I'd dearly love to do a one on one with yours.



    Gary,

    I am in the early stages of my cassoulet infatuation, so give me a few years before I have to compete. Perhaps we can meet up for a cassoupalooza: You make the sausage, PIGMON does the confit, Rev makes the cassoulet and I'll make the bread.

    Bill/SFNM


    Can I please set the table :?:
    Bruce
    Plenipotentiary
    bruce@bdbbq.com

    Raw meat should NOT have an ingredients list!!
  • Post #10 - November 26th, 2006, 2:15 pm
    Post #10 - November 26th, 2006, 2:15 pm Post #10 - November 26th, 2006, 2:15 pm
    Bruce wrote:
    Can I please set the table :?:



    Bruce,

    The pots and dishes aren't just going to wash themselves :)

    Best,
    Bill/SFNM
  • Post #11 - November 26th, 2006, 2:37 pm
    Post #11 - November 26th, 2006, 2:37 pm Post #11 - November 26th, 2006, 2:37 pm
    Bill/SFNM wrote:
    Bruce wrote:
    Can I please set the table :?:



    Bruce,

    The pots and dishes aren't just going to wash themselves :)

    Best,
    Bill/SFNM


    I'll be happy to supervise Bruce. :lol:
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #12 - November 26th, 2006, 4:01 pm
    Post #12 - November 26th, 2006, 4:01 pm Post #12 - November 26th, 2006, 4:01 pm
    Great. I've got my apron on and a sponge in my hand.
    Bruce
    Plenipotentiary
    bruce@bdbbq.com

    Raw meat should NOT have an ingredients list!!
  • Post #13 - January 19th, 2007, 3:46 pm
    Post #13 - January 19th, 2007, 3:46 pm Post #13 - January 19th, 2007, 3:46 pm
    Adapted from Philippe Jeanty:

    Bistro Jeanty

    Cassoulet
    Serves 8

    For the beans:

    1 quart great northern white beans (or lingot blanc)
    3 Tbl. Rendered duck fat
    4 sliced-1/8” apple wood smoked bacon – cut into lardons
    3 each yellow onions – ¼” dice
    1 bunch fresh thyme – tied into bundles
    2 each roma tomatoes – ½” dice
    1 – 11/2 quarts brown chicken stock

    Procedure:
    Soak white beans in 2 – 3 quart bucket FULL with water over night. Be sure beans are completely covered with water and ample water for further absorbtion. Strain beans, place in large stockpot, cover with fresh water. Over high heat bring beans to boil. Turn heat, down to a simmer and cook until just before beans are tender. Remove from heat, Strain and discard liquid. Mean while, in large roasting pan or braiser place duck fat the bacon, thyme bundles and onion (in that order) and place over medium-high heat. This will allow the duck fat to help render out the bacon and add more flavors to the cooking of the onions. Do not disturb until the bacon starts to render. Mix together well and season with salt and pepper. Continue, when onions are translucent stir in the garlic and tomato dice. Cook for 7-10 minutes the double check seasoning. Add cooked beans and pour enough brown chicken stock to just cover. Bring beans back to boil, double check seasoning again and place into a 350-degree oven. Bake uncovered for 45 minutes. Remove bean from oven, check seasoning and garlic to taste, allow to cool slightly the refrigerate.

    To assemble:
    In each cassoulet dish, or single dish place, (oven proof dish)

    1-1/2 tsp. Fresh chopped garlic
    3-4 each fresh thyme sprigs
    ½ each slice of apple wood smoked bacon (#5 on slicer)
    1 each grilled sweet fennel sausage (8 total)
    1 each leg of duck confit (8 total)

    In that order, place the meats along the edge of the bowl. Fill the remaining space with white bean mixture; making sure the top is flat and not mounded. Drizzle the cassoulet with some additional brown stock and back in a 300-degree oven for 30-35 minutes. Top with herbed-garlic bread crumbs, and turn up oven to 425 degrees and brown in oven 5-10 minutes more.
  • Post #14 - February 7th, 2007, 6:55 pm
    Post #14 - February 7th, 2007, 6:55 pm Post #14 - February 7th, 2007, 6:55 pm
    As I slowly work up my nerve to make cassoulet from scratch (relatively speaking), a question presents itself: local sources for Toulouse sausage? I haven't ventured out in the sausage world much here, so apologies if I'm overlooking obvious choices. I'm also not ready, willing, or (really) able, to make it yet, so purchase will do for now.
    Gypsy Boy

    "I am not a glutton--I am an explorer of food." (Erma Bombeck)
  • Post #15 - December 14th, 2009, 9:16 pm
    Post #15 - December 14th, 2009, 9:16 pm Post #15 - December 14th, 2009, 9:16 pm
    Gypsy Boy wrote:As I slowly work up my nerve to make cassoulet from scratch (relatively speaking), a question presents itself: local sources for Toulouse sausage?


    I am taking a crack at a (simplified) cassoulet tomorrow and I have the same question. I won't have time to run around the whole city looking for these sausages (if they're even available in Chicago) so my question is what sausage could I substitute in a pinch. Bari, Peoria, and a handful of Polish delis are in striking distance. Paulina is doable, but I would rather stay in my zip code.
  • Post #16 - December 14th, 2009, 9:47 pm
    Post #16 - December 14th, 2009, 9:47 pm Post #16 - December 14th, 2009, 9:47 pm
    I make cassoulet once or twice a year and use the Polish sausage from Paulina. I've tried many others but none seem to work as well. Best of luck with making this dish.
  • Post #17 - December 14th, 2009, 10:24 pm
    Post #17 - December 14th, 2009, 10:24 pm Post #17 - December 14th, 2009, 10:24 pm
    Jefe wrote:
    Gypsy Boy wrote:As I slowly work up my nerve to make cassoulet from scratch (relatively speaking), a question presents itself: local sources for Toulouse sausage?


    I am taking a crack at a (simplified) cassoulet tomorrow and I have the same question. I won't have time to run around the whole city looking for these sausages (if they're even available in Chicago) so my question is what sausage could I substitute in a pinch. Bari, Peoria, and a handful of Polish delis are in striking distance. Paulina is doable, but I would rather stay in my zip code.


    I'm in the neighborhood and have had cassoulet on the brain lately, too. This was my kitchen counter yesterday...

    Image

    ...so I have a few (simplified) cassoulet-worthy sausages to pick from. Somehow I didn't buy any kielbasa near home this time, but I did pick up something like the typical Polish sausage that was just labeled "dehydrated sausage" at the counter at Gene's Lincoln Square (the longest sausage on the left-most board with the ramekin of cornichons). I may use that. Most any kielbasa from our neighborhood would work reasonably well, I think.
  • Post #18 - December 15th, 2009, 4:45 am
    Post #18 - December 15th, 2009, 4:45 am Post #18 - December 15th, 2009, 4:45 am
    deesher wrote:I make cassoulet once or twice a year and use the Polish sausage from Paulina. I've tried many others but none seem to work as well. Best of luck with making this dish.


    And a damn good one, I might add.
  • Post #19 - December 15th, 2009, 6:08 pm
    Post #19 - December 15th, 2009, 6:08 pm Post #19 - December 15th, 2009, 6:08 pm
    I take a more Zen-like approach to cassoulet. I think, much like our chili, in certain parts of France the ingredients and preparation of cassoulet is hotly debated. In the cookbook classic, Larousse Gastronomique, they go so far as to break down 3 different types of cassoulet and insisting that certain meats specifically go in certain cassoulets, and to mix is heresy.

    So, to answer the question on preferred sausage and beans, I often use whatever dried white bean we have on hand, and any good pork sausage with a good garlic bite (I have even snuck andouille in there, but then make up for the spice and smoke by trying to balance the other flavors.)

    Also much like our chili, this dish originated as great peasant, leftover-using, mass-feeding, fare. I prefer to not break the bank, and do my best to create the best I can while preserving the original intent of the dish. I think that makes it as authentic as any specific list of bean species and hunted for charcuterie.

    At any rate, my cassoulet gets raves from my wife's French family. . . but maybe they are just humoring the yankee.
    Today I caught that fish again, that lovely silver prince of fishes,
    And once again he offered me, if I would only set him free—
    Any one of a number of wonderful wishes... He was delicious! - Shel Silverstein
  • Post #20 - December 15th, 2009, 11:30 pm
    Post #20 - December 15th, 2009, 11:30 pm Post #20 - December 15th, 2009, 11:30 pm
    For me, the crucial part is the duck confit. Usually, I end up making my own. But it sure would be nice to use someone else's... In Montréal, finding duck confit is no problem. But it sure is a PITA in Kansas City. Does anyone know of, or have tried, a decent online source?

    Geo
    Sooo, you like wine and are looking for something good to read? Maybe *this* will do the trick! :)
  • Post #21 - December 16th, 2009, 8:58 am
    Post #21 - December 16th, 2009, 8:58 am Post #21 - December 16th, 2009, 8:58 am
    While I generally prepare my own duck confit, a friend of mine gave me a case of tins which I have used in cassoulet with good results. Here's a link to an offering on Amazon:

    http://www.amazon.com/Rougi%C3%A9-Rougi ... B0008JGWB4
  • Post #22 - December 16th, 2009, 9:13 am
    Post #22 - December 16th, 2009, 9:13 am Post #22 - December 16th, 2009, 9:13 am
    When I lived in the NY area, you could find a lot of d'Artagnan products in the supermarkets and they had a good reputation. I can vouch for their duck breast but have never tried their confit. They do mail order:

    http://www.dartagnan.com/51438/565788/Gourmet-Poultry/Duck-Leg-Confit.html
  • Post #23 - December 17th, 2009, 10:55 am
    Post #23 - December 17th, 2009, 10:55 am Post #23 - December 17th, 2009, 10:55 am
    I believe that I have seen duck leg confit (prepacked) probably from d"Artagnan at Fox and Obel in Chicago.
    But you'd better call them to check:
    401 E. Illinois, Chicago IL 60611 | 312 410 7301.
  • Post #24 - December 17th, 2009, 2:03 pm
    Post #24 - December 17th, 2009, 2:03 pm Post #24 - December 17th, 2009, 2:03 pm
    Believe it or not, I've gotten respectable frozen duck confit from Costco. It's in a package with 2 leg-thigh portions. When I make cassoulet, I will make my own confit and let it ripen for a month or more, however, in a pinch, I would recommend this.
    "I feel sorry for people who don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day." Frank Sinatra
  • Post #25 - December 18th, 2009, 6:16 pm
    Post #25 - December 18th, 2009, 6:16 pm Post #25 - December 18th, 2009, 6:16 pm
    I'd like to try making cassoulet for the first time over the holidays. I'm a bit intimidated! I was wondering if you could tell me which recipes you've had the most success with? I'm sure in the end I'll wind up pulling from several different recipes, but I'd like a really solid base recipe to start with. Any suggestions?

    Thanks-
    Tracey
  • Post #26 - December 19th, 2009, 6:02 am
    Post #26 - December 19th, 2009, 6:02 am Post #26 - December 19th, 2009, 6:02 am
    As you probably know there have been big battles among cooks and foodies for many years about what constitutes a "real" cassoulet recipe. Some people prefer the Cassoulet de Castelnaudary, some others the Toulouse formula, and I heard many times French people swear that the best cassoulet can be find in the old medieval city of Carcassonne.
    I think that you can find good recipes on the web, for example at Epicurious.com,
    I also like the recipe for Cassoulet de Toulouse in Anne Willan's book "French Regional Cooking".

    But I think that the following recipe that you can find on "frenchentree.com/Languedoc," is a good middle- of- the road possible approach without too much complication or fuss.

    Here it is as cut and pasted from:
    FrenchEntrée.com
    The guide to property, holidays and life in France
    Food and Wine Languedoc
    The only Cassoulet recipe you'll ever need!?
    Gemma Driver gives you her version of this Audois classic (meaning from the departement of Aude where Carcassonne is located)

    Easy Cassoulet

    Why does everyone make such a big deal about cassoulet and which is the best complicated cooking method? It is simple peasant fayre, and you will get similar results from cooking it in various ways. Perhaps creating this bean and meat casserole was traditionally such an occasion because the ingredients were precious and the most had to be made out of them. By 'most' I mean quantity and calories. Having said all that, cassoulet can be a tasty and comforting winter meal, and definitely worth trying.

    Languedoc Cassoulet

    To feed 2, (to bursting point) you will need:
    • 1 tin of haricot blanc/coco beans (or the equivalent quantity of dried beans, which have been soaked and boiled with herbs, garlic and onion until soft. I use the dried version because of the taste they get from cooking in the flavoured water, but this is a lot more hassle than opening a tin!).
    • Either a cast iron casserole pot (e.g. 'Le Creuset'), or a frying pan and a glass or ceramic casserole pot. The advantage of the cast iron option is that you can do all the cooking in the one pot.
    • 2 Toulouse or other coarse sausages.
    • 2 strips of pork belly, 0.5-1cm thick.
    • 2 duck legs, cooked (Ideally 'confitted' - cooked in duck fat for a couple of hours - but fried or roasted is fine).
    • 1 onion, finely chopped.
    • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed.
    • A good dollop of tomato purée or 3 fresh tomatoes, chopped.
    • Olive oil, butter and/or a little duck fat.
    • A pint of water or, preferably, chicken stock.

    What to do:
    The key to my easy cassoulet is not lots of stages and processes, but to cook it for long enough for the liquid and fat to emulsify completely, and a crispy crust has formed.
    • In either the cast iron pot or a frying pan, heat a couple of glugs of olive oil with a nugget of butter and/or a nugget of duck fat.
    • Fry the sausages and pork (and duck if you haven't already cooked it and if you want extra duck fat).
    • Take the meat out, and gently fry the onions until they are soft.
    • Stir in the tomatoes or purée and the garlic. You could add a glug of white wine at this point. (If you are using a frying pan, now put it's contents into the casserole dish.)
    • Put the meat in the pot, pour in all the beans, top up with the water or stock, to just cover the other ingredients.
    • Lid on, cook the stew in a medium oven for at least 1 hour. Stir it occasionally and top up with water or stock to keep it moist. When the cassoulet is cooked, it should not have any see-through liquid coming out of it, but everything should be coated in creamy goodness. Generously season according to your taste, and put back in a hot oven, uncovered, for 10 - 20 minutes, until a crispy crust has formed.
    • Serve with a green salad and a crisp white wine or strong red. And crusty french bread, if you can handle more food.
    © Gemma Driver 2005Languedoc Cuisine
  • Post #27 - December 21st, 2009, 7:23 pm
    Post #27 - December 21st, 2009, 7:23 pm Post #27 - December 21st, 2009, 7:23 pm
    Thank you for posting this recipe Alain. It certainly looks like a good starting point for my first attempt at cassoulet. I took a look at the recipes on Epicurious as well. Some of them look fantastic but call for two days worth of prep - I don't think I'm quite ready for that! So over the next few days I'll be trying to source good sausages, duck confit and pork belly - should be interesting!

    Thanks again-
    Tracey
  • Post #28 - December 22nd, 2009, 11:54 am
    Post #28 - December 22nd, 2009, 11:54 am Post #28 - December 22nd, 2009, 11:54 am
    The Chicago Tribune did a 2-hour cassoulet recipe a while back - a friend of mine made it and it was really good. I think she used a good garlicky polish sausage (from a butcher, not Vienna Beef) for hers

    found on-line at
    http://www.azstarnet.com/sn/byauthor/114807
    Leek

    SAVING ONE DOG may not change the world,
    but it CHANGES THE WORLD for that one dog.
    American Brittany Rescue always needs foster homes. Please think about helping that one dog. http://www.americanbrittanyrescue.org
  • Post #29 - January 5th, 2010, 1:27 pm
    Post #29 - January 5th, 2010, 1:27 pm Post #29 - January 5th, 2010, 1:27 pm
    I made the 2 hour version leek posted above over the weekend and it was very well received. I was a little short on duck confit (2 legs only) and long on duck fat, so I added a package of Usinger's chicken sausage from the freezer along with the kielbasa.

    This recipe seemed a little thicker than the cassoulets I remember before it made the last trip to the oven, so I added some extra chicken stock and some additional wine before I topped it off with the bread crumbs. Certainly not to the letter of the original 700 year old recipe(s), but a good stand in to be sure.

    Thanks leek.
  • Post #30 - January 7th, 2017, 9:31 am
    Post #30 - January 7th, 2017, 9:31 am Post #30 - January 7th, 2017, 9:31 am
    Reading and prepping now to get a cassoulet ready for next weekend. Will be sourcing product from Butcher& Larder at Local Foods; any recent advice or recipe discoveries welcomed!

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