Cassoulet - 21st Century Version-

Observing people cook, is as much a pleasure as doing the deed; When it comes to traditional dishes such as Cassoulet, observation can be very entertaining.
Cassoulet is a slow cooked dish from the South-West of France. So far so good. The recipe comes from a time when the majority of people didn't have our financial means but clearly had more time on their hands. A cassoulet is a slow cooked dish which requires a couple of days of preparation. 
Cassoulet contains Mogettes which are white beans from area, Toulouse sausages, duck confit in goose grease because that is the way locals used to preserve and cook their meat  and very fatty pieces of pork which in these days, fat was not such a dietary issue since nobody was seating in front of a screen for part of their day.

Well, we, that is you and me, are not going to ban our screen in favour of cooking all day, in a hurry. We know where we stand and we are not going to pretend. I am sure we can make a  very good cassoulet, using the best of other people's recipe. After all every single "traditional" cassoulet cook will swear on their mother's grave that they hone the correct way of cooking this traditional dish.

Let's start with the time issue, soaking the beans and cooking changing the water several time is not an option, so here we will apply Simon's quick cassoulet technique. He makes his in 10 minutes.

Toulouse sausages are not easy to find, north of Brittany. But Pat came to the rescue she sworn blank that Morteau sausages should be used in cassoulet. Morteau is about as close to Toulouse as we, in London, are from Germany. However she has got a point, if the sausages are smoked the dish gains an extra dimension. 
One thing which can't be bypassed is the goose fat, the duck and/or the pork browned in it will be crispy adding an extra texture.
At Pebble Soup HQ, our secret for best cassoulet is the cooking vessel, an earthenware dish bearing a small resemblance to a Cassoul, the dish which gave the cassoulet its name.
And the chapelure: fresh bread crumbs sprinkled over the dish so as it cooks slowly the crumbs absorb the juice, thickening the dish in the process.
There you have it, not as Henry IV intended it but a wonderful casserole which many can enjoy until we all take a trip to Toulouse to taste the real thing (or is it still?).

Cassoulet -Version 21st Century-
2 cans cannellini beans
110g fresh bread crumbs
2 bay leaves
a couple of sprig of thyme
black pepper
3 cloves garlic finely cut
a good dose of tomato puree (about 2 tbsp)
600ml boiling water
goose fat
1 smoked sausage per person
1 duck leg per person or 1 goose leg for 2
300g pork belly or pancetta
You don't have to use all the meat 2 out of three will do

  • Whisk the tomato puree in hot water add the herbs and reserve
  • On an oven tray, grill the sausage and the pork until they get a nice colour, reserve them with their juices
  • Melt a little goose fat and brown the poultry legs with garlic
    to assemble the cassoulet, take an oven dish with  lid, preferably earthenware, pour in one can of beans (minus the water), season
  • Add the browned meat on the top season again another layer of beans
  • pour the tomato bouillon on the top 
 Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 2/3,160°C
  • Cook for 90 minutes
  • take the lid off springle the breadcumbs on the top bump the heat a little to 200 cook for another 30 minutes or until the crumbs are golden brown and have soaked up some of the juice.

For more of the same but different have a look at
Toulouse Pork and Beans as cooked by As Strong as Soup
Camp Cassoulet by David Lebovitz

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