Posted: Mar 24, 2018 11:03 am
No Shit Cassoulet?
OK, in response to requests...
NO SHIT CASSOULET (OR NO BULLSHIT CASSOULET)
So If you read up on the history of cassoulet in a bunch of fancy French cookbooks, or watch all the super elaborate cooking shows, you probably already know that cassoulet is different all over France, and that's because it's a dish made from winter stores and the kinds of things people grow and make are different in different regions. The French argue about which medieval keep/farm town came up with the idea, but whatever. It gives folks something to talk about while drinking beaucoup de vin...
Nowadays, the recipes you'll find have a lot of ingredients normal folks can't really find or afford or take two to three days to make. A lot of the recipes call for you to make duck confit and then the next day use it in the recipe. This is because they are overthinking trying to make what is basically a deliciously spiced leftovers & beans casserole.
(for example, http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/toulouse-style-cassoulet
I tend to make cassoulet once or twice a winter when we have a snow day and I am stuck at home and the heat in the house is feeling inadequate. If the power has gone out and you have to use everything in the fridge up, making a cassoulet can be a good option. Even if we still have electricity, I use whatever leftovers we have handy and ingredients that can be obtained at the bodega down the next block. (It's right next to the bakery, so I will trudge over and grab a loaf of fresh bread to serve with the cassoulet. If it's been snowing for too long and there's no wine left in the house, I'll also hit the liquor store, because that's definitely part of the deal.)
Vegetarians can probably use the same recipe, but leave out the meat.
Alors, allons droit au but.
Poultry (any kind, but if you have smoked turkey in your fridge, that can add some flavor) To get the authentic flavor, some folks add duck fat, which is cheaper than buying duck... chicken worked fine for me. I had a bunch of leftover chicken drumsticks when the power went out, so I threw them in)
Sausage (I've used linguiça, chorizo, kielbasa, and Italian sausage. They all worked pretty well.)
Pork (Needs to have fat. Some suggest salt pork or pancetta. I used bacon last time, cut into small pieces.)
Garlic (plenty of it)
Onions (at least one large, two, if you want it to be a little sweet)
Root vegetables (last time, I had potatoes in the house, but slogged to the corner to grab turnips and parsnips)
Celery & carrot (always, in French food, it seems...)
White beans (I used 3 cans of cannellini and great northern last time because that's what I had in the house)
Chicken stock or other stock you happen to have in pantry (I tend to use chicken)
Spices required - Thyme, Bay leaf, salt, pepper, paprika (Smoked paprika works especially well)
Spices optional, but part of what makes it yummo - juniper berry, star anise, cardamom, cloves (not too many!), nutmeg, coriander, ginger.
In a big oven safe pot pot like a French oven or a Dutch oven (Yeah, yeah, bean dish, I know...)
1. On your stovetop, cook onions and garlic in olive oil until translucent.
2. Add fatty pork/bacon, cook until fat is released (this is where you would add duck fat if you got all fancy and went out and got yourself some.)
3. Add the spices and the other meats and turn and brown the meats
4. Add canned beans, tomatoes, chicken stock and all the veggies. Give it a good stir
5. Cook in oven on 350 for 3-4 hours with lid on, checking on it and stirring
6. Take the lid off, create crust with breadcrumbs that have been mixed with butter. Smear on top and toast with broiler (this doesn't work in ovens that have the heat elements underneath)
Serve with bread and wine. Wait out the rest of the storm in a warm stupor.