Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Sign in to follow this  
stellabella

All About Cassoulet

Recommended Posts

My neighbor's sister made a huge cassoulet for my neighbor's birthday dinner last night, and invited me to watch her assemble it on Friday. Sister is married to a Frenchman and spends about half the year in France--this is the technique she learned most recently. It was amazingly non-fussy, quick to assemble, and heart-breakingly delicious served with a light fresh salad and lots of home-made bread & whipped butter.

For eight folks, four duck thighs, 4 duck legs [in retrospect she said she should've used more duck], 4 Italian sausages, 2 kielbasa, 2 bratwurst, the sausages cut into 2 inch pieces. First she browned 4 slices of salt pork, cut in half, in about 2 T of olive oil on top of the stove in a large roasting pan, then added the rest of the meats to brown. After 10 mins she removed the meat and added 1 minced oinion, a few cloves of garlic [careful, she said, if you have garlic-y sausages], and a couple shallots, all finely minced, and softened in the fat. Then one large carrot cut in chunks, and a couple celery stalks, de-threaded, cut in chunks. Then the meat went back in, along with 2# of small white beans, soaked for about 4 hours--Great Northern beans, because she wasn't able to get the French beans she prefers. Then, she added enough water to cover the beans, and a few sprigs of rosemary and parsley from the yard [she said sage is good, too], and about 1/2 cup strong tomato sauce--she said the best thing to use is the very concentrated tomato paste from a tube--and, she said, ONLY a small amount--this is more for color than anything else. Don't salt it, because the salt pork should be sufficient.

The roasting pan went covered into a medium low oven for, well, hours, and she checked it periodically to see that the beans were cooking and the water not getting too low--if so, she added more. When she was satisfied it was done, she skimmed off some of the excess liquid--and they like to eat that as a light soup for lunch. Her husband says it's best to reheat the cassoulet a couple times over the next couple days, before serving--to bring the flavors together.

The result was meats that melted on the tongue like communion wafers, in a flavorful stew of perfectly cooked beans.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Care! You are treading on strongly held beliefs here.

What you have may be a fine meat and bean stew, but it is not a Cassoulet, anymore than baked beans with sausages are.

Where is the breadcrumb topping, stirred in at least seven times?

The pork rind?

The confit of goose (if from Toulouse)?

The leg of mutton (if from Carcassone)?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Stellabella, that sounds wonderful. But you'd better duck now (no pun intended) since, as Ariane Daguin of D'Artagnan quotes her 2-Michelin-starred father,

Cassoulet is not really a recipe, it's a way to argue among neighboring villages of Gascony.
And, need I add, among eGulleteers. :wink:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
What you have may be a fine meat and bean stew, but it is not a Cassoulet, anymore than baked beans with sausages are.

But what is Beanie Weenie Casserole, if not Trailer Park Cassoulet? :laugh:

A rose by any other name.... :raz:


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Stella, sorry if this is a silly question, but is that 4 thighs in ADDITION to 4 legs? And medium/low would be around where (275)? And for approximately how many hours (6)?

Sounds great.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Stellabella, that sounds wonderful.  But you'd better duck now (no pun intended) since, as Ariane Daguin of D'Artagnan quotes her 2-Michelin-starred father,
Cassoulet is not really a recipe, it's a way to argue among neighboring villages of Gascony.

Funny thing is, while I like the food at D'Artagnan (the restaurant) -- though I have not had the cassoulet -- the people I know who have had it there have all said that it is not a particularly good version. :shock:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Salt Pork and beans come from a quite different tradition of long keeping foods for the American Wagon trains, and in turn from sailing ship cookery (I hestitate to call it cuisine).

I guess trailer park cookery comes from cans.

Cassoulet on the other hand....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Rozrapp -- I HAVE had the cassoulet at D'Artagnan. I didn't like it, for many reasons.

Jackal, go read Pickled, Potted, and Canned for a better education on the history of food preservation. As for your cassoulet comments, I sincerely hope you are being ironic. Because if you are serious, I feel very sorry for you -- that you should be so locked into an unattainable ideal. Go sit in the corner with Plotz. :laugh:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The beans don't get boiled first? I always boil the beans, then simmer them for quite a while before assembling the dish with the meats. Otherwise, I should think the duck, in particular, would have disintegrated before the beans were done.

Personally, I wouldn't use a mix of sausages like that in a cassoulet. I understand one might need to resort to Italian sausage if Toulouse sausage is unavailable, but the Eastern European varieties strike me as wrong. Not that it wouldn't be tasty, just a long way from cassoulet. I also advocate adding some chunks of saucisse seche, the very hard, dry French 'salami' - it softens during the cooking, and imparts a distinctly Gallic flavor.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Eastern European varieties strike me as wrong.  Not that it wouldn't be tasty, just a long way from cassoulet.  I also advocate adding some chunks of saucisse seche, the very hard, dry French 'salami' - it softens during the cooking, and imparts a distinctly Gallic flavor.

I was also thinking of chucking the Kielbasa. It gives me the willies if not burned.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I guess trailer park cookery comes from cans.

Cassoulet on the other hand....

I have had decent canned cassoulets here in France. But now having made it myself I just can't. Here's the Cordon Bleu recipe.

CASSOULET PRÉPARÉ COMME À TOULOUSE

serves 4

Principal ingredients

1 kg dry white beans (soaked overnight)

Cooking of the beans

1 carrot

1 onion studded with a clove

2 garlic cloves

1 bouquet garni

300 g salted slab bacon

Tomato “concassée”

80 g goose fat

300 g tomatoes, diced

2 onions

thyme

Navarin

600 g lamb neck “Navarin style”

1 onion

50 g goose fat

2 tbsp tomato paste

2 tbsp flour, roasted

1 bouquet garni

2 tomatoes

Garnish

4 sautéed Toulouse sausages

4 preserved (confit) duck legs

8 slices garlic sausage

salt, pepper

Finish

breadcrumbs

Beans - rinse, drain, cover well with cold water, then just bring to boil. Add peeled bacon, carrot, onion/clove, garlic, bouquet garni. Skim well then cook low for about 1 hour.

Lamb - melt goose fat, sear lamb, season, remove from pan. In same pan sweat onion, add tomatoes - tomato paste as needed, lamb, roasted flour, mix well. Just cover with water, add bouquet garni, season lightly. Just bring to boil, skim, cover with parchment paper cut into a circle, bake about 1 hour.

Tomato - melt goose fat, add finely diced bacon rind, sweat, then add fine dice onion, sweat, season well with thyme leaves, add finely chopped garlic, sweat, add peeled/seeded/diced tomato, season lightly, paper cover, cook low to very soft.

Just cover Toulouse sausage in cold water then just bring to boil. Slice garlic sausage, set aside. Melt goose fat in pan, rinse Toulouse sausage, dry well, colour well around over low heat, halve on bias, set aside. French duck legs, sear in same pan to colour well, set aside.

Decant lamb, chinois sauce, reduce.

Remove garnish from beans, large dice bacon. Ladle off all excess water, add tomatoes, bacon, lamb, reduced sauce, halved sausages, sausage slices, just boil, taste/season, duck, drizzle duck fat lightly over, breadcrumbs light to cover over, bake about 3 hours at 80°C.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Best I've ever had was at Au Trou Gascon in Paris (10th?, 11th?).

Worst: Jeanty at Jacks in SF

I'm a sucker for this dish. If it's on a menu I'll order it.

More on the beans as Robert has previously asked. Isn't some special white bean required for that tres authentique thingy. Tarbai come to mind, but I'm not sure.

Nick

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Care! You are treading on strongly held beliefs here.

What you have may be a fine meat and bean stew, but it is not a Cassoulet, anymore than baked beans with sausages are.

Where is the breadcrumb topping, stirred in at least seven times?

The pork rind?

The confit of goose (if from Toulouse)?

The leg of mutton (if from Carcassone)?

A. didn't bother with the bread crumbs, in the interest of time. She didn't use confit duck legs because, well, there weren't any handy. And the French sausage, alas, not available either. Don't think we didn't all get an earful about the paucity of ingredients available here as compared to France. But it was her version of cassoulet, and, as A. said: "not bad for French beanie weenie."

All tongue-in-cheek aside, folks, it was lovely, and though it requires a couple days' planning, it's not as "difficult" as I would have guessed, depending largely on the quality of ingredients available to the cook.

Wilfrid, she added the soaked, not cooked beans so that the meat WOULD fall apart--I rather liked the effect. I was amazed that the beans maintained their form and didn't turn to sludge. A. is half polish, and hence the predilection for eastern european sausage.

Well, I guess I'll head back to my trailer now. I guess here at the "new" egullet overt classism is the last safe bastion of the food elite. :smile:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Its not classism, just terminology.

You used the term "Cassoulet", which has a specific meanings, culture and strong beliefs associated with it. Call your dish something different: "Pork and Beans" or "Beanie Weenie", even "Ragout inspired by Cassoulet" if you like. I'm sure it was delicious, but it was not the true Cassoulet.

Describing it as Cassoulet would be like describing roast beef as "Texas BBQ" just because it was served with tomato ketchup, or describing what you had as Chile Con Carne, since it had beans and meat in it.

Some Trailer (and traditional and peasant cooking) is among the worlds finest. I apologise if I accidently insulted anyone.


Edited by jackal10 (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I guess trailer park cookery comes from cans.

Cassoulet on the other hand....

I have had decent canned cassoulets here in France. But now having made it myself I just can't. Here's the Cordon Bleu recipe.

CASSOULET PRÉPARÉ COMME À TOULOUSE

serves 4

Principal ingredients

1 kg dry white beans (soaked overnight)

Cooking of the beans

1 carrot

1 onion studded with a clove

2 garlic cloves

1 bouquet garni

300 g salted slab bacon

Tomato “concassée”

80 g goose fat

300 g tomatoes, diced

2 onions

thyme

Navarin

600 g lamb neck “Navarin style”

1 onion

50 g goose fat

2 tbsp tomato paste

2 tbsp flour, roasted

1 bouquet garni

2 tomatoes

Garnish

4 sautéed Toulouse sausages

4 preserved (confit) duck legs

8 slices garlic sausage

salt, pepper

Finish

breadcrumbs

Beans - rinse, drain, cover well with cold water, then just bring to boil. Add peeled bacon, carrot, onion/clove, garlic, bouquet garni. Skim well then cook low for about 1 hour.

Lamb - melt goose fat, sear lamb, season, remove from pan. In same pan sweat onion, add tomatoes - tomato paste as needed, lamb, roasted flour, mix well. Just cover with water, add bouquet garni, season lightly. Just bring to boil, skim, cover with parchment paper cut into a circle, bake about 1 hour.

Tomato - melt goose fat, add finely diced bacon rind, sweat, then add fine dice onion, sweat, season well with thyme leaves, add finely chopped garlic, sweat, add peeled/seeded/diced tomato, season lightly, paper cover, cook low to very soft.

Just cover Toulouse sausage in cold water then just bring to boil. Slice garlic sausage, set aside. Melt goose fat in pan, rinse Toulouse sausage, dry well, colour well around over low heat, halve on bias, set aside. French duck legs, sear in same pan to colour well, set aside.

Decant lamb, chinois sauce, reduce.

Remove garnish from beans, large dice bacon. Ladle off all excess water, add tomatoes, bacon, lamb, reduced sauce, halved sausages, sausage slices, just boil, taste/season, duck, drizzle duck fat lightly over, breadcrumbs light to cover over, bake about 3 hours at 80°C.

Just a reminder, that this recipe (and all others) could be posted in the recipe archive with the links to it here! :smile:


Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Its not classism, just terminology.

You used the term "Cassoulet", which has a specific meanings, culture and strong beliefs associated with it. Call your dish something different:  "Pork and Beans" or "Beanie Weenie", even "Ragout inspired by Cassoulet" if you like. I'm sure it was delicious, but it was not the true Cassoulet.

Describing it as Cassoulet would be like describing roast beef as "Texas BBQ" just because it was served with tomato ketchup, or describing what you had as Chile Con Carne, since it had beans and meat in it.

Some Trailer (and traditional and peasant cooking) is among the worlds finest.  I apologise if I accidently insulted anyone.

This issue has been discussed a bit elsewhere on the boards. (That is, using a "classical" name with a specific meaning to describe anything similar. I'm drawing a blank on examples.):

Bouland, Oct. 13, 2002

There's no fat in the recipe so it stretches the definition of confit pretty far...

Ah hah! It seems that chefs and cooks in the U.S., and a few in France, are stretching the definition of confit farther and farther all the time. I'm used to a pile of slow cooked onions to be referred to as a fondant, as in melted, such as in this recipe.

The process of confitting implies cooking the material in fat as part of a preservation process, not just a means of preparating a dish. Afterall, traditional confits of meats are stored in the fat and then reheated for serving. I think it is inappropriate to apply to term to just any slow cooked dish. (Not that you were, but a lot of chefs are doing that.)"


Edited by Stone (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
All the Chile con Carne I've ever had was mostly beans...

"Carne" means "meat".


"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
All the Chile con Carne I've ever had was mostly beans...

Chile con carne is, not at all unlike cassoulet, a dish with serious, deeply imbedded cultural meanings.


Priscilla

Writer, cook, & c. ● #TacoFriday observant ● Twitter Instagram

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tell us more about Chile con carne...the best I've had was in the canteen at the University of Chicago in the sixties, when I was a summer student there...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Stella, sorry if this is a silly question, but is that 4 thighs in ADDITION to 4 legs?  And medium/low would be around where (275)?  And for approximately how many hours (6)?

Sounds great.

Stellabella, any help?

True chili isn't supposed to have beans, and chili con carne is supposed to really drive that home.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

oops, elyse and sandy, 2# means two pounds, and it was four thigh/leg quarters, but she cut them apart so that there were four legs and fours thighs floating in the dish.

medium-low heat i guess is about 275. good question. i never use a thermometer, and my oven is not accurate, so i have to chant with prayer beads for pot roasts, etc.

i'm not claiming to be an expert on cassoulet, but the person who made it is. she openly admitted to cheating, leaving out the crumbs, substituting approximations because the preferred ingredients weren't available. perhaps i could have made that more clear. "cassoulet" is a pretty scary word that gets bandied around a lot here, though most often as a passing reference. my friend had just returned from france and said, Hey, i'll make a cassoulet--come watch and help me. wow! what a generous offer. i thought i'd pass it on to others who also are new to this somewhat intimidating dish.

as for cassoulet's serious, deeply imbedded cultural meanings, these too were discussed at length around the table, as A. told us in great detail what the dish would taste like if we were at her husband's house in france, how his daughter makes it, how he makes it, how the mother made it, etc. quite an education we all received, from yet another generous lover of food!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Similar Content

    • By liuzhou
      The rise and fall of French cuisine
       
      interesting read.
       
    • By apilinariosilvia
      Can anyone give me idea how to make homemade french bread in wood fired oven?
    • By pastrygirl
      There are two local grocery stores here who I'd like to try to sell chocolate to but they have policies forbidding GMO soy,  Soy lecithin is allowed only if organic or certified non-GMO. 
       
      I use a lot of Felchlin, some Valrhona, a little Cacao Barry. The only mention of GMOs I've found from Felchlin is this note in a brochure: GMO absence:  Felchlin fulfills current legislative requirements regarding GMO absence.  All Felchlin products comply with the Swiss Regulation and the European Council Regulation related to genetically modified organisms in food and feed.
       
      Does anybody know what those requirements are?  Is anything European going to be GMO-free?  Or labeled above some %?
       
       
    • By umami5
      Has anyone come across a digital version of Practical Professional Cookery (revised 3rd edition) H.L. Cracknell & R.J. Kaufmann.
      I am using this as the textbook for my culinary arts students and a digital version would come in very handy for creating notes and handouts.
    • By Mullinix18
      I dont believe that any English translation of Carêmes works exist. An incomplete version was published in 1842 (I think) but even the that version seems lackluster for the few recipes it does cover. I think it's time the world looks to its past, but I don't speak great French and it's a huge task to undertake. I hopefully plan on publishing this work and anyone who helps me will get a very fair cut, and if we decide not to publish it, I'll put it out on the internet for free. I'm working in Google docs so we can collaborate. I'm first cataloging the index to cross reference the pre-existing incomplete English version to give us a reference of what yet needs to be done, and from there we will go down the list of recipies and Translate them one by one. Simple google translate goes only so far, as it is 1700s French culinary terms and phrases being used. I'd like to preserve as much of Carêmes beautiful and flowery language as possible. Who's with me? 
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...