Friday, June 25, 2010

Sacre Bleu Cassoulet!

I think I made the best casserole of my life tonight. Big call, as I've made alot of them... But tonight I went french, and made Cassoulet.

According to Julia Child, "Cassoulet is a rich combination of beans baked with meats, typical of south western France. The composition of a cassoulet is, in typical French fashion, the subject of infinte dispute, so much so that if you you have read of heard about cassoulet and never tasted it, you come to expect a kind of rare ambrosia rather than the nourishing country fare it actually is."
Well whatever I got, it was amazing. I used pork ribs (pretty much the same as pork belly just on the bone), some gluten free sausages (because its just what I had - some good quality garlic/rosemary/thyme flavoured sausages would be fantastic), chicken thigh (on the bone) and pancetta (because its what I had, however it would be more authentic if you used lardons). It was so easy and delicious and just what I felt like eating tonight!

Heres the recipe!

2 Pork ribs/belly, off the bone (if its a rib) and the skin trimmed off (keep the bone to add flavour) and cubed
2 Chicken thighs (skinless) cut off the bone (again, keep the bones) cubed
4 Sausages (good quality ones, you choose the flavour!)
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
Half a glass of wine (red or white, whatever youre drinking while youre cooking!)
1 sprig each of thyme/rosemary
1 can tomatoes (I use whole ones, because the flavour is kept inside the tomato rather than watered down when theyre chopped)
2 cans of cannelini beans (I like beans, so 1 can is probably enough for most people)
1 cup chicken stock (I used a packet of liquid consomme which turned out fine)
1,5 cups breadcrumbs
1 tbsp melted butter
S&P to taste

Preheat your oven to 150C.

1) Add oil to a casserole dish/pan (oven safe) and fry up the pork, bones and bacon. Allow it to brown and leave all the bacony goodness on the bottom of the pan! Put the skin you trimmed off the pork belly in first, skin side down and allow it to crisp up while you cook all the meat - chefs treat once its brown and crispy and the fat has rendered down! Take all the pork out and put it to the side.

2) Add the chicken and bones and brown, remove from the pan. Then add the sausages and brown. Once they're brown cut them up into chunks and put them aside as well.

3) You should find that the bottom of the pan is covered in golden goodness! The pan will be a little hot for the garlic and onions, so deglaze it with your wine (I used white) and then add the onions and garlic, and cook until translucent.

4) Return all the meat and bones to the pan, with the rosemary, thyme, tomatoes, and stock, cover and let it cook in the oven for 90mins.

5) After 90mins mix up the breadcrumbs and butter (adding herbs would be great - parsley would be traditional). Add the beans to the pan, then cover everything with the breadcrumbs and cook for about 30mins or until the crumbs are golden brown. At this stage you can also add a cornflour roux to thicken the sauce. I didnt bother really, it was delicious as it was, and while the sauce does end up only slightly more viscous than water, but if you cook it longer it will reduce down alot more... It was perfect how it was though, if you had bread to sop up the gravy! I mention water when describing the gravy, rest assured it is only the consistancy NOT the flavour, it is just busting at the seams with flavour!

Serve with crusty bread or your choice of potatoes, as well as a glass or 2 of your fave wine.

This was seriously delicious, and I'm going to be making it for my parents when I visit during my holidays! Its perfect for a cold winter night, warming and rich. The best part about it, its only going to get better if you're able to save any for the next day!

My evening will be spent with my delicious cassoulet, a bottle of really nice red (Houghtons "The Bandit" Shiraz Temperanillo - will buy it again!), a copy of Gourmet and Spice - West Coast food and life, Julia Childs "Mastering the Art of French Cooking".
Have a fabulous Friday evening!


  1. Cassoulet - unbelievably good... and yours sounds like a superb version :)

  2. Sounds like the perfect evening to me!