If you have ever been fortunate enough to have a cassoulet in France, the dinner I made tonight would be un sacrilège. On the other hand, even if you have, this wasn’t bad.
The classic cassoulet hails from the south of France and is comprised of white beans, duck confit, sausages, and other meats – usually pork, but also mutton. They are totally awesome. I had one in a bistro in Paris that was simply out of this world. Then again, absolutely anything in a bistro in Paris is awesome when comparing it to the ethnic wasteland that is the Philadelphia suburbs. Location. Location. Location.
I made a reasonably authentic one about six years ago, but I generally tend to take the concept and do what I want with it. Duck legs and confit just aren’t reasonably priced out here in ‘burbia, and I’m actually starting to pull back on my grocery purchases, a bit, anyway. I’m finding that at 65, I really don’t need duck fat and confit for a Monday night dinner. And at the prices being charged at the local grocers, I don’t need ’em for most dinners.
But on to tonight’s dinner…
I brined my white beans overnight in water and kosher salt. I saw something about brining beans on America’s Test Kitchen – it works. The rest of the ingredients were pretty much clean out the freezer. I only used half of the 1 pound bag I brined, so the rest went into the freezer for Victor’s next batch of soup. Three things out, one thing in. I’ll take it.
- 1/2 lb white beans, soaked, cooked, and drained – save the cooking liquid
- 3 strips bacon, chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 bulb fennel, sliced
- 3 carrots, sliced
- 2 links hot sausage sliced
- 1 pork chop, cooked and chopped
- 1 cup red wine
- garlic powder
- bread crumbs
- olive oil
Cook bacon and onion in a large pot until bacon is cooked and onion is wilted. Add garlic and briefly cook.
Add fennel and carrots. Cook a bit and then add the sausages.
When sausages have browned a bit, add the wine to deglaze the pot.
Stir in the cooked pork chop and add the beans, along with just enough of the cooking liquid to keep everything wet but not drowning.
Reduce heat, cover, and simmer about 30 minutes.
Mix breadcrumbs with olive oil and garlic powder. Place on top of cassoulet and bake in a hot oven until browned.
I tried taking a picture of the inside. It isn’t the greatest, but you get an idea of what it is…
It starts out hot and soupy and as you eat it, the crumbs mix in and it starts getting thicker and drier. There’s a dozen different textures going on. It’s great.
The individual casserole dishes came from a place in Wolfeboro, NH – right on Lake Winnipesaukee. It was her end of season sale and we got them for less than $5.00 each. Such a deal.
Fun fall flavors. All we need now is for Mother Nature to cooperate.