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Cook-off 1--Cassoulet


Chris Amirault
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HELP!!!! I received my shipment from D'artagnan yesterday, am off work today so I am contemplating my schedule and plans for the Cassoulet that I plan to serve New Year's Eve (using the Les Halles recipe). I ordered pork from the Niman's meat link earlier in the thread, got the pork belly with rind so should be cool with that (much more than I will need for this recipe). However, I only ordered 2 lbs of the Tarbais beans which I have just measured to be just shy of 4 1/2 cups. Won't be able to purchase these locally. Would you all suggest just going with that amount OR should I supplement the Tarbais beans with another type that I could get locally?

I know this makes alot BUT I will have 11-13 adults here that evening and was actually planning to try increase the recipe by half.

Any advise welcome!

Edited by eldereno (log)

Donna

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OK! I'm jumping into this fray and planning on having a cassoulet dinner sometime in late January.

I'm going to go out and buy Paula Wolfert's book because I've asked for it 2 (or 3?) christmas' in a row and still haven't gotten it! grrr...

I have both duck and rabbit confit going in the fridge right now. OK, so not really traditional, but... thought I'd give it a wing and see what happens. Will order tarbais beans (might be able to find them locally) and will make my own toulouse sausage, probably using Paula's recipe.

Love the idea of fish first and then a grand marnier souffle after! Ooo la la!

I'm also going to look into the wines someone mentioned here (cahors, others) as my modest cellar is mostly burgundies!

yummmm

Born Free, Now Expensive

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HELP!!!!  I received my shipment from D'artagnan yesterday, am off work today so I am contemplating my schedule and plans for the Cassoulet that I plan to serve New Year's Eve (using the Les Halles recipe).  I ordered pork from the Niman's meat link earlier in the thread, got the pork belly with rind so should be cool with that (much more than I will need for this recipe).  However, I only ordered 2 lbs of the Tarbais beans which I have just measured to be just shy of 4 1/2 cups.  Won't be able to purchase these locally.  Would you all suggest just going with that amount OR should I supplement the Tarbais beans with another type that I could get locally?

I know this makes alot BUT I will have 11-13 adults here that evening and was actually planning to try increase the recipe by half.

Any advise welcome!

I agree with Chris; use all of them. I'm using 1 kilo (2.2 pounds) to make casoulette for 15 on Saturday. After the beans have soaked tonight I'll decide whether I need more or not.

If you are worried just add some of the readily available Great Northerns. They work fine & should hardly be noticeable id you use up to 1/2 pound within the 2 lbs of lingots.

Good Luck.

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I'm also going to look into the wines someone mentioned here (cahors, others) as my modest cellar is mostly burgundies!

yummmm

Cahors is good. But you might like to try to find a nice Corbiers. It comes from the same region as the main casoulette towns & really works well with it.

Let it breath well & you'll be delighted.

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OK, here goes. I'm doing my casoulette for 15 on Saturday. This post will be in three parts.

Now: Today plus tonight's preparation work.

Tomorrow: I'll put everything together & do the initial cooking.

Saturday: Final cooking & serving.

Today: Linda & I drove down to Castelnaudary to buy our cassole. (as you will see our big green pot won't hold casoulette for 15). The first shop I went into didn't sell cassoles although it looked like they should have. Anyway, they directed me to M. Vigoule's shop which I'd find down the hill on the right side of the square. I couldn't miss it as it was the one with flowers out front. Sure enough there it was; he sells potted plants, animal food, tropical fish, parrots and, yes, cassoles as well as lingots de Tarbias. I chose his largest model of cassole which is very workmanlike but not nearly as beautiful as the one chrisamirault recently got. Here are pictures of my faithful green pot (nearly 20 years old), the new cassole & the two together.

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The Green pot!

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New cassole!

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Pots together!

While I was there I bought a kilo of lingot de Tarbias which he was selling in bulk. He was insistent that I couldn't make a proper casoulette without them. I'm not sure about that, but the price was right.

Before I get too far with this I'd better give you a 'proper' recipe. Here it is:

Ingredients:

1) Vegetables

-1 Large yellow onion

-3-4 stalks of celery

-3-4 medium size carrots

2) Dry & canned goods

-1-2 tubes of tomato purée

-500- 750g of white (lingot) beans

-1-2 cans (4 cuisse to the can) of comfit de canard

3) Meats

-500-750g fresh Toulouse sausage

-1 large ham hock (jarret) OR 2 smaller lightly salted ham hocks

-4 or more Lamb shanks. If no shanks use bone in Lamb cutlets

4) Herbs

-1+ head of garlic

-Thyme to taste

-Herbs de Provence to taste

-10+ crushed juniper berries

-Salt & Pepper

5) Misc.

-Duck fat

-Freshly made bread crumbs

-Chopped parsley

-Walnut oil (about 2 tblsp)

NOTES:

Using the smaller quantities of ingredients this recipe will make a large Casoulette filling my big green pot. If, however, you would like to make more then up the quantities as you wish. (The green crock feeds 8 happily) The Casoulette freezes perfectly.

So, when we got home I laid out my meats.

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Lamb shanks, a pork hock & about a pound of Toulouse sausage.

Next I skinned the pork hock as below;

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I was trying to get as little fat or meat as possible with the skin.

Once the skin was off I cut it into strips & then rough squares. Not too neat as you can see.

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Observe the strips both skin & fat side up & the 'squares'. I'll use the three strips in the casoulette & make the remainder into crackling.

Next came the mirapoix preparation as below:

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I'm perfectly aware that few, if any, "classic' casoulette recipes call for a mirapoix. I think, however, that adding one in makes a big & positive difference. The vegetable addition seems to lighten things a bit without losing any of the rich meat & bean flavours. I would contend that the mirapoix adds flavour. "chaque une a son gout" or something like that as they say.

Next the beans went in the pot to soak overnight. (I don't always do this. You can achieve the desired softening by bringing the beans to a boil from cold, boiling for 15 minutes & then letting them sit in the water for 2-3 hours.) Anyway.

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Potted beans.

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Close up of beans. (The camera didn't do a good job on the colour.) These Tarbias look just like Great Northerns to me. So far I can't really tell a taste difference. Somebody needs to do a side by side cook off. I'll do the cooking if somebody wants to come over with the beans.)

Finally, tonight I got out the rest of the ingredients, except for the comfit, and lines them up ready.

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You can't see the garlic very well because its some scraps I had. Serves as a good reminder to go to the village store first thing in the morning & buy some more.

The only things I haven't shown are: The comfit, fresh thyme, parsley, the juniper berries and the breadcrumbs.

Tomorrow, I promise.

PS: when I've finished this I will post it as one continuitous post on my blog.

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I think that the beans' texture is really the key: firm and tender both, so perfect for the bumpy ride that is casoulet.

I hope we'll see your recipe in Recipe Gullet, Dave!

Chris

I have no problem posting the recipe, but only one picture is sort of limiting with a recipe like this. Nevertheless, I'll have a go.

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I'm also going to look into the wines someone mentioned here (cahors, others) as my modest cellar is mostly burgundies!

yummmm

Cahors is good. But you might like to try to find a nice Corbiers. It comes from the same region as the main casoulette towns & really works well with it.

Let it breath well & you'll be delighted.

Thanks for the recommendation, Dave. I'll look for some!

Born Free, Now Expensive

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I want to express my heartfelt thanks to all who answered my cassoulet questions. In all the excitement, I completely forgot to take pictures, but it really came out gorgeous. The top layer of beans made a great crust, the beans overall had a wonderful flavor of pork and duck, the duck and pork belly meat were tender, the pork rind melty, and the sausage was a great compliment. The guests really loved it. We served seven (and a toddler), and still have leftovers. We weren't able to get Toulouse sausage or Tarbias beans, but substituted kielbasa and canellini beans to very good effect. It would be nice to have the proper stuff next time, though.

We served a green salad along with the cassoulet. Considered serving it after, but it seemed to make the rich dish go down easier. For dessert, I made use of a gift of fresh Southern Oregon pears. I made a dessert of roasted pears, goat cheese, and mulled wine sauce. Really tasty. The pears are peeled, halved, pitted, rolled in a sludge of brown sugar, melted butter, and ground spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, black pepper), then baked. Right before service, they are flipped hollow-side up, filled with a couple of tablespoons of fresh goat cheese, and browned under the broiler. Then, the pears are served with the mulled wine sauce. It really went over well.

Now, to decide what to do with the remaining duck parts and 6 lbs of side pork.

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Here's post #2 on the illustrated casoulette recipe. Actually its going to be 2&3 together since the casoulette has been made & eaten, but couldn't be posted due to eGullet being down for the upgrade. Anyway, here goes. (By the way I have posted a narrative version in RecipeGullet.)

1) Start by turning on the heat under the beans. Add the roughly chopped garlic. Also add some salt & pepper, but not much at this stage. Bring them to a boil & let boil for about 5 minutes.

2) at the same time put the cut up pork rind into a pan with water & bring it to a boil. Boil for 15-20 minutes.

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3) In a large frying pan or, better yet, a deep pot start browning the meats in a small amount of fat (duck or goose fat is best, but olive oil will do nicely). Don't crowd the pan! fry until nicely browned a batch at a time.

4) while this is going on start cooking the sausage. First put the sausage in a large frying pan & add water until the sausage is roughly half covered.

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In the picture I've turned the inner ring of sausage, but not the outer - yet.

Keep boiling until all the water evaporates turning the sausage over about half way through.

Once the water just goes add some fat, not much, and keep cooking until the sausage skin browns nicely. Turn the sausage over as necessary. ( at the same time you are still browning batches of the pork & lamb - right?)

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5) Once all the meats are browned turn down the heat & put all of the mirapoix in the pot. Give it a good stir to coat with the fat & cover the pot. The mirapoix should cook slowly for 15-20 minutes, until the carrots are soft & the onions are translucent. Be sure to give it a stir every so often. DO NOT let it brown!

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Browned meats.

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Sweated mirapoix ready to go.

6) Meanwhile you can be cutting up the sausage into bite sized chunks & getting your comfit ready.

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Cut up sausage

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comfit ready. note that I've left some fat.

7) While all this was going on you will have added the tomato paste & the herbs de Provence, thyme & juniper berries to the beans. The amount of each is up to your personal taste. I'm fairly heavy handed, but you may prefer a lighter touch.

8) When ready add the cooked mirapoix to the beans. You are now ready for the assembly!

9) Assembly. (I'll try to make the pictures work for this.)

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a) Using a slotted spoon add some beans to the cassole or whatever pot you are using.

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b) add the pork hock

c) Add more beans & some sausage.

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d) Add the lamb shanks and the pork rind.

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e) More beans & sausage. Then the comfit.

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f) Final layer of beans!

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g) Now add liquid from the bean pot to cover everything.

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h) Ready for the oven!!!

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Put the casoulette into a 375 degree oven (about 165 C) for 2-3 hours. After about 1 1/2 hours pull it out & check the consistency of the beans. They should start to be a bit soft. Press down the top, take a spoonful of juice & check seasoning. Add salt & pepper as needed.

Repeat this procedure about every half hour until the beans are just soft to bite.

Take the casoulette out of the oven, let it cool then put it in the fridge (or anywhere cold, but not freezing) overnight.

Part #3

No much here, but here are the final steps. No pictures as there's not that much to see. Besides I got very busy with other things as the casoulette was finishing off. That's one of the nice things about casoulette; during the finishing stage it doesn't require much attention so you can get on with other things.

1) take the casoulette out of the fridge about 4-5 hours before your planned serving time.

2) make 2-3 cups of bread crumbs. I like to use sour dough French bread, but any will do. I also like to add herbs de Provence, chopped parsley & garlic granules to the crumbs, but that's strictly optional.

3) Pre-heat the oven to about 375 (165C).

4) put the casoulette in about 2 hours before the planned serving time.

5) about one hour before serving time spread the bread crumbs over the top of the casoulette fairly evenly & press down slightly. (Note: the casoulette will probably have formed a crust by this time. If so, press this down firmly before spreading the bread crumbs.

6) Watch to make sure that the crumbs are browning nicely. If not a little top heat from the broiler will do the trick, but be careful. Better a light brown crust than a burnt one.

Serve immediately. Since a full cassole of casoulette is pretty heavy we like to have our guests come into the kitchen to see it in all of it's glory. They can Ohh & Ahhh !! then go back to the table. Dish up the casoulette in the kitchen as it can be a bit messy. Use a long handled large spoon so you can dig down & try to give each plate a bit of every layer.

We found that our new cassole would yield just 15 reasonable sized portions. (as you could see it was full to the brim) Fortunately, I had made a second casoulette in my old green pot. We had about 10 of the 15 come back for seconds. There was barely enough left for us to put into a much smaller pot & freeze for Linda & I to have at a later date.

Enjoy yourself. The narrative recipe is now in RecipeGullet and this illustrated version is on my blog as below.

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Nice photos, Dave, and a nice new cassole. I got one for Christmas too, from Clay Coyote like Chris did, but it'll be a while before I break it in, so I'm glad to see that you and Chris are doing the honors.

Since you always call it cassoulette I'd been assuming you were making a teeny, tiny cassoulet, but hey, 15 servings is the whole big deal!

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oh, that's lovely, Dave---your guests must have felt honored to be invited for such a meal!

It didn't work out for me to make a cassoulet for New Years but I want to do one soon and I will happily refer to your tute--a question, though--I have very large earthenware casseroles inherited from my great aunt--I've always used them for beans--but I have put the lid on for the greater part of the cooking time to keep the liquid from evaporating--it appears that a cassoulet cooked in a cassole is uncovered? This does go against my intuition--but i'm willing to learn!!!

Zoe

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Did the Les Halles recipe for cassoulet for New Year's Eve. A great success. Added some extra sausage, 2 more duck confit legs, otherwise followed the recipe pretty much exactly. Had only 4 1/2 cups of Tarbais beans so supplemented the additional 1/2 cup with Great Northern beans. Check out the difference in size, presoak.

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The cassoulet assembled for first bake.

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After first bake.

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Did not take pictures the following night. Looked beautiful, though, and was enjoyed by 15 adults. Served with my minimalist no knead bread

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and a simple salad of mixed greens with a white wine vinegrette with shallots and garlic.

Had many hors d'oerves that were supplied by guests.....prior to the cassoulet being served and some fine cheeses.

Birthday cake for dessert (it was my birthday).

A great, fun party. Surprisingly, even with all the heavy food, many of us partied until 5 AM. And I had brunch this AM!!!!!!!

Time for bed now!!!!

Happy New Year to all!!!!!

Edited by eldereno (log)

Donna

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oh, that's lovely, Dave---your guests must have felt honored to be invited for such a meal!

It didn't work out for me to make a cassoulet for New Years but I want to do one soon and I will happily refer to your tute--a question, though--I have very large earthenware casseroles inherited from my great aunt--I've always used them for beans--but I have put the lid on for the greater part of the cooking time to keep the liquid from evaporating--it appears that a cassoulet cooked in a cassole is uncovered?  This does go against my intuition--but i'm willing to learn!!!

Zoe

Zoe Don't worry about the lid. There's a picture of my green pot up in the first recipe post. It has a lid. It has always been my practice in the past to do the first cooking of the casoulette with the lid on.

For the second cooking I start with the lid on then check the level of the juices after about half an hour. If they're low I add a bit of bean juice that I've saved or add some red wine if I don't have any bean juice left. If there's lots of juice then I leave the lid off & continue cooking.

I then take the lid off for the last hour. Add the bread crumbs about half an hour before serving & that's it. ( NOTE: if you think you have too much juice then just do more bread crumbs and do two lots of them; that is spread a layer let them dry & colour then push them down and add a second & final layer.)

On a side by side comparison I must say that we really couldn't tell the difference in taste between the open pot cassole cooked casoulette & the lid on green pot casoulette. Its just that the cassole is both more traditional & spectacular.

Nice photos, Dave, and a nice new cassole. I got one for Christmas too, from Clay Coyote like Chris did, but it'll be a while before I break it in, so I'm glad to see that you and Chris are doing the honors.

I can't wait to see Chris's casoulette! Its bound to look great in the magnificent cassole.

Eldereno - Your casoulette looks great. Could you tell a taste difference between the two types of bean? Preference?

That bread looks wonderful, but you must have had a hungry crew for them to eat bread & casoulette! And appetizers and salad and birthday cake (congratulations by the way.) I'm impressed by your cooking & your capacity.

edit: and cheese - I forgot.

Edited by Dave Hatfield (log)
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Could you tell a taste difference between the two types of bean? Preference?

There was only 1/2 cup of the Great Northerns so were not too noticable. I do think that they did not hold up quite as well as the Tarbais. Nonetheless, it was delicious.

That bread looks wonderful, but you must have had a hungry crew for them to eat bread & casoulette!

Only one loaf got eaten that night, gave one away and had another to make some toast with the following morning. Those loaves served me well!

Thank you for your kind remarks, Dave. Will be heading for bed early for the next few nights to try to catch up, for sure!

Donna

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Took a few days to get the photos up from the New Year's cassoulet. I didn't do a step-by-step since the method was, again, an amalgam of the Wolfert, Bourdain, and Saveur Cooks French recipes.

The meats were duck confit, fresh ham hocks, pork bellies, and the Toulouse sausages. The beans were flageolet from Rancho Gordo, and I must say that they were remarkable things. I strongly urge people to buy them. Really. What else... some duck stock and the jelly from the confit, some roasted garlic, some onion confit....

I tried to set up the oven to replicate the clay chamber:

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It worked pretty well, and I pushed the crust down six or seven times, so there's not as much on the top when you see it:

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As Paula suggested up-topic, the clay pot retained more moisture in the beans, so the entire cassoulet was appropriately moist. In addition, a year of getting my sausage act together had a great effect on those Toulouse links. It was just fantastic -- and much of what was fantastic about it came directly from the folks here. So thanks -- and Happy New Year!

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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  • 2 weeks later...

Chris,

Beautiful cassoulet. I'm curious if you think the replicated clay chamber made a significant difference in the baking or texture. I used my regular ol' convection oven (the regular "bake" does not work anymore after I shorted? something out doing a large batch of basted chicken wings for a party a couple of years ago. Too much steam was created which did something bad to the controls.) I have some stones but never thought about using them.

Love your cassole. I ordered mine from the same potter. Beautiful pieces, don't you think?

Well done!!!!

Donna

Donna

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I can't really tell, Donna. My guess is that it wasn't particularly useful, but it's hard to say. I might have placed the pizza stones above the cassoulet, since I didn't have the browning on top that I would have liked.

And, yes, the cassole is fantastic.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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  • 4 weeks later...

Well, after reading through the thread a few times, reading the recipe in Les Halles, and a few trips to different stores......I have made some form of Cassoulet.

I had the Confit, and some Magret sausage. I added to that some trotters and neck bones for stock, some pork rind, and subbed some fatty butt for the belly. Also hiding in the fridge was one unknown sausage and some very rare slice leg of lamb...into the pot.

I started making a basic pork stock

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then used that to cook the beans and soften the skin. I cut the butt into big pieces and browned them well in bacon fat and and cut into bite sized pieces trying to get plenty of fat on each.

(at this point I planned on removing half the pork to make Posole at another time)

After lining with softened pork rind I added some of the beans with diced carrot to the dish and piled on the pork and sliced lamb and drizzled with Bourdain's mixture of pureed garlic, onions and pork rind...Mmmmm

(invite mother -in-law and warn her it might be pizza for dinner) :laugh:

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Then some more beans and the sausages and garlic goo, and more beans and a lone duck leg. Pour in some bean cooking liquid and into the oven.

Day 2

Back into the oven for a few hours, add bread crumbs make toast and toss a salad

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tracey

yes the butter cow is smiling

Edited by rooftop1000 (log)

The great thing about barbeque is that when you get hungry 3 hours later....you can lick your fingers

Maxine

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Paula Wolfert's Toulouse Cassoulet from the Cooking of SW France:

Ok, let's get the pics out of the way first...enjoy

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Sauteeing the meats (homemade pancetta, hock, shoulder) and onions

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All the ingredients ready to be simmered

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Before going in the oven

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Adding the semi cooked homemade Touluse sausage sausage

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Ready

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Served with a simple spinach salad (raspberry vinegar dressing and walnut oil), a glass of wine and soem homemade bread.

Here I made the recipe and split it into two. One half was sent to my wife's family to bake on their own, the other I baked in my large Chinese caly pot. It worked out very well in this pot and the result was excellent. Like Chris, Charcuterie has been and eye opening experience and the homemade sausage was simply amazing full of thyme, garlic and other spices. It has been very seasonably cold in Houston this month, and I could think of very few dishes as comforting as a big plate of beans, pork, duck and fat...

Speaking of fat, this recipe after all is said and done, ends up with very little actual fat in there. Pretty much a cup or so of fat is removed after the mixture is refrigerated overnight. Now, I am not saying it is light eating. I can never eat more than one serving, but that is due to all the beans and meats not becasue it is cloyingly fatty.

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

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contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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When I posted my cassoulete recipe with pictures earlier in this thread I never did show the finishing off process. To be honest I just got too busy to take pictures at the time.

Recently, however, I made another cassoulete and did remember to take some pictures so here they are;

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here the cassoulete is cooked & ready for the crust to go on.

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First, however, I push the top down to submerge everything & make sure the juices come to the top.

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Now the crumbs go on. I use day old country style French bread from our local shop which I tear into chunks & whizz in the food processor. Spread the crumbs around fairly evenly & gently push down.

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The finished cassoulete ready to serve.

For this dinner we served it with steamed broccoli and followed with a simple lettuce salad with fresh herbs and creamy vinaigrette, followed by a cheese plate and a light lemon brulee for desert.

Note that I like to add tomato to my cassoulete. Many including Paula Wolfert don't. In my case I just add a few good dollops of tomato paste. I like the colour and the extra slight amount of sweetness the tomato adds. However, that's why cassoulete is so much fun - everyone has their own variation of it!

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When I posted my cassoulete recipe with pictures earlier in this thread I never did

Note that I like to add tomato to my cassoulete. Many including Paula Wolfert don't. In my case I just add a few good dollops of tomato paste. I like the colour and the extra slight amount of sweetness the tomato adds. However, that's why cassoulete is so much fun - everyone has their own variation of it!

Hi Dave,

Your cassoulete looks fantastic!

I've published more than a half- dozen recipes for cassoulet/cassoulete, and you are right, sometimes I don't include tomatoes. The fava bean cassoulet doesn't include them, but it's a recipe that predates the appearance of the tomato in Europe.

In the updated version of the Cooking of SWF, the Toulouse cassoulet does include one plump tomato. You can see an abridged version of that recipe here :

http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/toulouse-style-cassoulet

Edited by Wolfert (log)

“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

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I saw this thread again the other day and thought, I'd like to eat some cassoulet. I haven't got the budget for the confit, but I thought I'd try to pull something together.

Tonight I'm making chicken stock, so I thought I could use some of the chicken fat in place of duck fat. Not the same, I know, but could it work? I also have pork belly with a small amount of rind (no way I could line any vessel with it, but I can get it in there for texture) and a homemade venison and pork sausage, as well as chicken legs. So maybe it's not going to be cassoulet, but maybe it can be close. Opinions sought, here.

I need to make and serve the "cassoulet" tomorrow. I was planning to brown some onions and the meats (sausage in patties to be crumbled in to the cassoulet) first, then add these into a slow cooker (crock pot) with the presoaked beans and some chicken stock and/or water, plus juniper, bay, garlic, tomato paste - anything else? Cook on low all day.

Then, before dinner, transfer the cassoulet stuff to a doufeu (it's just cast iron; I don't have anything ceramic), add crumbs to the top, and finish it off in the oven. To be served with no-knead bread and a salad.

Any thoughts? This is definitely the week of squeejawed cooking ideas. I've got a pork butt to smoke on Saturday, when it's supposed to be in the realm of 12 degrees F outside... :shock:

Jennie

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