Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Comfort food at its best - Cassoulet

Earlier in the week I was bemoaning the lack of time for a long slow cooked meal, well Sunday night my craving was sated with the wonderful french Cassoulet. Though the sun was shining you could feel winter in the air and it is just a matter of days until all the trees are bare. Also it was Halloween so I felt like Cooking the ultimate in slow cooked dish.

The autumn leaves soon to be just a memory

This is a dish from the south west of france where it is a way of life and there are probably as many recipes for it as there are cooks cooking it. In fact every time I make it, it is a little different, changes made based on meats, sausages and beans available.  So I will write up how I cooked it this time with some suggestions for other variations.

These quantities served 8 of us and there was enough for lunch for one left over.

2 cups of white beans ( I had 1 cup of navy beans and 1 cup of small lima beans)
8 chicken pieces (I used thighs) traditionally you would have duck legs as well
1/2 leg of lamb cut into cubes
6 sausages cut into chunks
1 onion chopped
3 large roma tomatoes chopped
1 cup of chicken stock
several sprigs of fresh thyme
3/4 cup of fresh breadcrumbs.

Soak the beans in boiling water for about 1 hour to plump them up.

Brown the chicken in a non stick frying pan.  Put the chicken skin side down and the fat will be released and therefore there is no need to add any oil.

Take the chicken out and place in a large casserole dish.  Then add the cut up lamb and brown that as well.

Take the lamb out and place in the casserole dish with the chicken. Now do the same with the sausages.

When all the meat is browned and put in the casserole drain off some of the fat if there is too much leaving a couple of tablespoons.

Add the onion and cook until softened then add the tomatoes and stir in and add the chicken stock.

When all the crusty bits are scraped off the bottom of the frying pan pour on to the meat in the casserole and then add the drained beans.

tuck in some fresh thyme sprigs and add enough chicken stock to almost cover the meat and beans.  Put on a lid and put in a 350 oven for about two hours. Check once in a while and add more stock if it looks too dry

At the end of two hours the beans should be soft and most of the stock soaked up.  Top the casserole with the fresh breadcrumbs.

Then put back in the oven with out a lid until a crust is formed on top about 15 minutes.

Serve directly from the casserole

Halloween dinner

You can use almost any kind of sausage, though toulouse sausages (a mild pork sausage from france) are traditional. Italian sausages go well in this as do a good meaty chicken sausage. 

Almost any meat will go in this dish, but lamb really adds a good flavour, and pork goes really well and you could also use game if that was handy.

1 comment:

  1. This is one of my favourite dishes in Winter. And I like your last instruction of serving it straight from the casserole:)