Cassoulet is probably the most famous dish made in South West France. It dates back hundreds of years.
There are many many versions. In fact you can get a good argument going by asking several local what the recipe is.
I live in SW France & have been making Cassoulet for many years. I wouldn’t claim that my version is definitive, but it seems to go down well with our local friends.
Don’t be put off by the time it takes, just relax & do a bit each day. For a full pictorial version of this recipe go to my website: www.frenchfoodfocus.com.
- 1Take your time over this. Day one do the meats. Day two do the beans & assembly. Either eat the cassoulet that day or heat it up the next day before serving.
- 2Roast the pork with salt, pepper & sage until cooked.
Fry the sausage until cooked.
- 3Cut the lamb up into bite sized pieces then brown in some duck fat (or olive oil). Set the lamb aside.
Chop 3 onions finely & cook them in the same fat as the lamb. Put the lamb back in
Add the wine & the stock. Add the tube of tomato puree. Add 2 bay leaves & 1 tsp thyme.
Bring to the boil & back down to a simmer. Simmer for 2 hours.
- 1Soak the beans overnight in lots of cold water.
Chop the remaining onion, the carrot & celery finely. Add to the beans.
Add the garlic, herb bouquet, Thyme & bay leaves to the beans.
Simmer for 11/2 hours or until the beans are just soft.
- 2Keep everything cool overnight. Next day do the assembly.
In a cassole or a very large deep ovenproof pot spoon in a thin layer of beans using
a slotted spoon. (You don’t want liquid in at this stage, BUT reserve the bean cooking juice!)
Add the sausage which has been cut into bite sized pieces.
Add another layer of beans.
Add the pork roast that has been cut into bite sized pieces.
Add another layer of beans.
Open the can(s) of confit. Scrape off as much fat as possible with your hands. Break each piece of duck into two then place them on top of the beans.
Add yet another layer of beans.
Take the lamb out of its cooking juice being careful not to lose any of the juice.
Add the lamb pieces to the cassoulet.
Spread any remaining beans on top.
- 1Next strain the lamb cooking juices and carefully add them to the pot.
If the level of liquid doesn’t come up to just cover the beans top it up by adding bean cooking juice.
Carefully place the cassoulet in an oven set at 375degrees F for about 20 minutes then turn the heat down to 350F & let it cook for 2 hours. From time to time break the crust that has formed by pushing it down into the cassoulet with a spoon.
Let the cassoulet rest for a few hours or overnight in a cool place.
- 1This is optional.
Before heating the cassoulet for serving sprinkle a light layer of good quality bread crumbs over the top.
The cassoulet is ready to serve when its bubbling & the bread crumbs are browned.
Serve with a hearty red wine.
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