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Cook-off 1--Cassoulet


Chris Amirault
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[This is the first cook-off; click here for the Cook-Off index. -- CA]

In Culinary Bear's great thread on confit, Al_Dente mentions that he's thinking about trying Bourdain's cassoulet recipe in January. Turns out I had had the exact same dish in mind (and I finally just ordered Les Halles Cookbook from Amazon, with the eGullet link of course, to be able to use his recipe), and it made me wonder:

Every couple of weeks, might it be possible for us to select some recipe, either from eGullet or a well-known cookbook, and all make it, eat it, snap photos of it, and compare notes and pix? I'm thinking of more involved dishes (like cassoulet). Like the Wine of the Week gang, different people could get tagged to facilitate, nag, and so on.

I suggest this because I'm usually the only person in my non-virtual life who would be compelled to discuss the absurdly picayune points of cooking, but I can imagine a large number of similar obsessives around eGullet. If enough people are game, I think it would be a blast!

So, what do you think? Any takers?

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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I suggest this because I'm usually the only person in my non-virtual life who would be compelled to discuss the absurdly picayune points of cooking, but I can imagine a large number of similar obsessives around eGullet. If enough people are game, I think it would be a blast!

So, what do you think? Any takers?

Great idea! I'm in. I have a vague suspicion that the Les Halles cookbook might be under the tree.

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Great idea!  I'm in.  I have a vague suspicion that the Les Halles cookbook might be under the tree.

I got book tokens as part of my xmas, so I might be buying it as part of that. The local shop has signed copies. :)

Allan Brown

"If you're a chef on a salary, there's usually a very good reason. Never, ever, work out your hourly rate."

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In Culinary Bear's great thread on confit, Al_Dente mentions that he's thinking about trying Bourdain's cassoulet recipe in January. Turns out I had had the exact same dish in mind (and I finally just ordered Les Halles Cookbook from Amazon, with the eGullet link of course, to be able to use his recipe), and it made me wonder:

Every couple of weeks, might it be possible for us to select some recipe, either from eGullet or a well-known cookbook, and all make it, eat it, snap photos of it, and compare notes and pix? I'm thinking of more involved dishes (like cassoulet). Like the Wine of the Week gang, different people could get tagged to facilitate, nag, and so on.

I suggest this because I'm usually the only person in my non-virtual life who would be compelled to discuss the absurdly picayune points of cooking, but I can imagine a large number of similar obsessives around eGullet. If enough people are game, I think it would be a blast!

So, what do you think? Any takers?

Count me in...this sounds fun

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Definitely count me in.... my awesome husband bought me a digital camera for christmas (so to take food related pictures with of course :biggrin: ) and with my X-mas bonus, I could buy the book! :smile: However, given I might have to wait until I actually get my bonus, would there be a way of emailing or posting the recipe?

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I’m up for this. I suggest we start off with the aforementioned Bourdain/Les Halles recipe (cassoulet).

I agree that the cassoulet recipe in Les Halles is a great place to start. I don't have my copy of the book (might be under the tree, but i placed an order through Amazon that should arrive within a week).

Maybe, as a starting point, someone who has the book can post a listing of the ingredients. (I'm pretty sure that this wouldn't violate eG's copyright policy, btw.) Some of us will have to do some hunting to track down stuff. I also imagine we'll be able to have a spirited discussion about what to or not to use as substitutes for beans, sausage, etc.

It will also be interesting to talk about wine pairings -- but I'm getting ahead of myself!

Anyone want to get that ingredient list up here?

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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I'm in.

I was going to do a thread on making the cassoulet anyway, might as well make it a group effort. Also, a handful of lucky (or possibly unlucky) DC-area eGulleters might get to sample my efforts. Provided they bring the appropriate wines of course.

peak performance is predicated on proper pan preparation...

-- A.B.

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I'm in.

I was going to do a thread on making the cassoulet anyway, might as well make it a group effort. Also, a handful of lucky (or possibly unlucky) DC-area eGulleters might get to sample my efforts. Provided they bring the appropriate wines of course.

If you need any help making the sausage, feel free to ring me.

Also, if you need any help eating the stuff...

Edited by Busboy (log)

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Maybe I'm just a contrary old cuss but, for something like Cassoulet, why not have people cook several different versions of the stuff? Bourdain is God and blah blah blah, but there are a lot of other good sources out there -- I think there's even a thread on eG -- and significant regional variations. Seems odd to me not to cast the net a little wider.

Edited by Busboy (log)

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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The Washington Post recently published an article comparing three bistro-style cookbooks--Bourdain's, Ina Garten's and Thomas Keller's. I'm pretty sure all three would include a cassoulet version, and think a vertical tasting of the three cassoulets would be pretty interesting.

This may be difficult to achieve in this forum, since Cooking denizens live all over the world. But it could make for an interesting study. I personally own only the Bourdain cookbook, but I bet other cooks have the other two volumes. I think simply agreeing to cook a cassoulet together could be an interesting Cooking project--people could choose whatever recipe they like, and compare notes on ingredients and techniques.

Sorry Jinmyo, Busboy stays. :wub:

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Is anyone else absolutely horrified at the thought of 'lobster cassoulet'? I'm almost at the stage of not eating in places that have it on the menu.

My tuppence worth : lamb, confit duck, couennes, sausage, belly pork. Bear is a crumb advocate.

And if you can't use your breath to defrost your car door lock the next morning, there wasn't enough garlic in it.

Allan Brown

"If you're a chef on a salary, there's usually a very good reason. Never, ever, work out your hourly rate."

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Am currently paging through a recently unwrapped copy of Bouchon (thanks, Stephanie :wub: ). Many interesting recipes; perhaps more zen observations on the importance of eggs and the like, than strictly necessary. Large enough to be easily found in a kitchen full of dirty pans and first course dishes when you need instructions for finishing and serving the main course and may have been drinking (I appreciate this in a cookbook) and stays open to the right page when opened.

No cassoulet recipe, however.

Edited by Busboy (log)

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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To those of you who celebrate it, Happy Christmas! (I wish I could also parenthetically say "War is over," like John and Yoko did, but, alas....) Awaiting me downstairs are two pounds of cubed lamb shoulder and three bottle of chianti that my wine merchant tells me are wonderful, so I need to get crackin' on my Xmas stew. Thus, this note will be quick.

As much as I like the writer's work and am looking forward to getting Les Halles, my original idea was to select one recipe, just to see how many people turn out the "same thing." However, that idea was provoked not only by the confit thread but also the "authenticity" thread, which is a concept that this project could fiddle with in interesting ways. So I think that we should make a few different cassoulets, including a couple Les Halles. I'll snoop through my other French books (including, I tremble to imagine, Larousse) and try to find another. Julia must've weighed in on cassoulet, too, yes?

I feel very strongly, however, that what makes this project compelling is the ability to compare like to like. So (accepting the epistemological limits regarding Platonically authentic dishes -- phew) can we all agree to make something that is trying to be an authentic cassoulet? No lobster (or chipotle, or fig, or calimari, or...), then, yes?

Finally, I think that next week is perfect for me. Shall we try to have our results up around the first of the year? It can be our take on black eyed peas, which is, I believe, a favorite New Years dish below the Mason-Dixon line here in the States.

Wonderful! I'm so glad that everyone's excited by this!!

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Last night, looking through the December 2004 issue of Food Arts, I came across a recipe for Boeuf Bourgignon adapted from Keller's Bouchon book. Given that so many people have already made Bourdain's and loved it, perhaps this would be a better head-to-head competition? :unsure:

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