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.

All About Cassoulet


stellabella
 Share

Recommended Posts

Tarbais beans are not essential in a cassoulet, far from it. They seem to be a fairly recent trend and I had never heard of them associated to a cassoulet before the early 90s. Traditional recipes mentioned either lingots de Soissons, cocos de Pamiers or lingots de Vendée, all beans that keep their shape while being soft and melting. Good canellini or haricots maïs from Béarn would do the job as well for that reason. The true, unmentioned thing about Tarbais is that they melt too much, they have a good taste but they don't keep their shape and every cassoulet I have tried to make with them was a mess.

As for the presence or absence of duck confit, it all has to do with the type of recipe you want to make. Some recipes will include an old partridge, or mutton, or goose instead of duck. The simplest cassoulet is based on pork rinds and beans and it is delicious.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for your kind remark 6PPC.

All I can say/add to this discussion is that the essential ingredient to a good cassoulet is love and care.

Put lots of those into your cassole and you can't go wrong.

Good luck with the cook book.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Tarbais beans are not essential in a cassoulet, far from it. They seem to be a fairly recent trend and I had never heard of them associated to a cassoulet before the early 90s. Traditional recipes mentioned either lingots de Soissons, cocos de Pamiers or lingots de Vendée, all beans that keep their shape while being soft and melting. Good canellini or haricots maïs from Béarn would do the job as well for that reason. The true, unmentioned thing about Tarbais is that they melt too much, they have a good taste but they don't keep their shape and every cassoulet I have tried to make with them was a mess.

I think the local coop near Tarbes has done an excellent marketing job with the Tarbais bean. You can see their website and the whole story right here.

Personally I've used Tarbais, lingots, coco and in the states Great Northern's. They all work well so long as they're prepared properly. I certainly wouldn't pay a premium to buy Tarbais beans.

By the way I don't think a lot of the Cassoulet recipe on the coop's site.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Zora, reading your comments, I wonder if part of what is happening is that you're cramming the cassoulet into one day of prep. That seems nearly impossible and definitely unpleasant. I break the process down over several weeks: confit made and aged, sausages made, hocks brined, smoked, cooked, and deboned, stocks made, and so on. Day before, you assemble everything in the pot and cook it through; day of you reheat it and get that wonderful crust on it. The only thing you smell that day is the wonderful final product, not one of the ingredients that you can't get out of your sheets! :wink:

Also, Ptipois puts it well (as usual) by saying that you want beans

beans that keep their shape while being soft and melting.

Fresh, high quality beans are the key, or else you have split bean soup or dry wall plaster.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yeah, I'll definitely draw it out longer next time--I was doing it over one weekend. But I like the idea of giving the confit a week or so to age...and giving the air a chance to clear!

Re: dried beans...there's just no way to know how old they are, is there? I mean, if you're not buying them from someone who's v. close to the source...

Zora O’Neill aka "Zora"

Roving Gastronome

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Re: dried beans...there's just no way to know how old they are, is there?  I mean, if you're not buying them from someone who's v. close to the source...

I usually just buy them from the containers at Whole Food, not in the plastic bags at the supermarket. My assumption is that a.) WF will make an effort to keep the quality high, and b.) they have a pretty quick product turnover. We go through quite a few beans in my house, and at WF they are consistently very good quality.

I would also say that they are priced well, but if you are going to make ~real~ cassoulet you are probably not worried about the cost. Costs a fortune to make ... ;)

"There's nothing like a pork belly to steady the nerves."

Fergus Henderson

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Buy your beans from Rancho Gordo and you'll always have fresh beans, not to mention the most delicious beans ever.

I had no idea how good beans could taste until I got some from Rancho Gordo.

Ditto on Rancho Gordo. I am seeing some of his (yours, if you're reading, Steve!) beans in local shops and have worried about the freshness factor...but I probably shouldn't. Which of Rancho Gordo's beans have you all used for cassoulet, folks?

kit

"I'm bringing pastry back"

Weebl

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Buy your beans from Rancho Gordo and you'll always have fresh beans, not to mention the most delicious beans ever.

Ditto, ditto, ditto! I'm sure there are other good sources for good beans, but Steve is my go-to, since I don't happen to know of any others.

I wasn't much of a bean fan, either -- until I found Rancho Gordo beans and learned just how good real beans could be.

Making a cassoulet is on my list of 2009 resolutions! But I have learned by experience that nothing tastes good when I'm exhausted...so I agree with Chris that it's best to stretch things out over time.

- L.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Buy your beans from Rancho Gordo and you'll always have fresh beans, not to mention the most delicious beans ever.

I had no idea how good beans could taste until I got some from Rancho Gordo.

Ditto on Rancho Gordo. I am seeing some of his (yours, if you're reading, Steve!) beans in local shops and have worried about the freshness factor...but I probably shouldn't. Which of Rancho Gordo's beans have you all used for cassoulet, folks?

I have used the Rancho Gordo flageolets, and I have toted a few kilos of lingots from Sarlat (where they swore that lingot, not Tarbais beans, are the best), and i have used teh Rancho Gordo runner cannelinis. They were all good, but the runner cannelimis are the best beans I have ever eaten. Period.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think the local coop near Tarbes has done an excellent marketing job with the Tarbais bean.

:smile: That is precisely what I was trying to say without saying it plainly...

Another good example is piment d'Espelette (not on the head please, as a matter of fact the topic is taboo in France).

Agreed. Rancho Gordo's pretty good at it too.

Still the naive and gullible listen. buy and believe.

Who am I to talk having been a marketeer for many years albeit in high tech where your BS has to be real.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have a great passion for cassoulet and have made and eaten it every which way. In the end it's about the beans-and I prefer for myself a pared down version made with pork belly and extra rind, a little slightly rancid cured belly, aromatic vegetables, duck fat and good stock as the only additional ingredients. All those extra delicious meats ultimately just distract from the real business for me-though I only serve this version to family.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think the local coop near Tarbes has done an excellent marketing job with the Tarbais bean.

:smile: That is precisely what I was trying to say without saying it plainly...

Another good example is piment d'Espelette (not on the head please, as a matter of fact the topic is taboo in France).

Agreed. Rancho Gordo's pretty good at it too.

Still the naive and gullible listen. buy and believe.

Who am I to talk having been a marketeer for many years albeit in high tech where your BS has to be real.

After suffering misadventures with second-rate products, there are some who through experience have found a reliable source for what passes as a basic commodity to those living in France. I for one do not consider myself either naive or gullible. The belief comes from results. :raz:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think the local coop near Tarbes has done an excellent marketing job with the Tarbais bean.

:smile: That is precisely what I was trying to say without saying it plainly...

Another good example is piment d'Espelette (not on the head please, as a matter of fact the topic is taboo in France).

Agreed. Rancho Gordo's pretty good at it too.

Still the naive and gullible listen. buy and believe.

Who am I to talk having been a marketeer for many years albeit in high tech where your BS has to be real.

After suffering misadventures with second-rate products, there are some who through experience have found a reliable source for what passes as a basic commodity to those living in France. I for one do not consider myself either naive or gullible. The belief comes from results. :raz:

Well I certainly agree that if you have a proven source then stick with it.

My personal experience when we last lived in the states (California, then Chicago, then Rhode Island) was that if I looked at sell by dates I could get perfectly good beans, usually Great Northerns, in most supermarkets. Whole Foods normally came up trumps.

My point & I think Pti's was that there's a lot of hype in the food industry. Tarbais & Piment are just a couple here in France that have 'captured' attention & are managing to get a premium for their product. More power to them, but that doesn't mean I need to pay over the odds for their product in order to make in this case a good cassoulet.

I've been making cassoulet for over 20 years and am now finally happy with my recipe.I'd probably have to change it if we moved back to the states. Doesn't mean that others don't have an equally good recipe using Tarbais, Rancho Gordo or whatever. After all the beans are only one of the ingredients, an important one, but still only part of a complex taste experience.

You can find a fully illustrated recipe for my version over on my new website mentioned below.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My personal experience when we last lived in the states (California, then Chicago, then Rhode Island) was that if I looked at sell by dates I could get perfectly good beans, usually Great Northerns, in most supermarkets. Whole Foods normally came up trumps.

My point & I think Pti's was that there's a lot of hype in the food industry. Tarbais & Piment are just a couple here in France that have 'captured' attention & are managing to get a premium for their product. More power to them, but that doesn't mean I need to pay over the odds for their product in order to make in this case a good cassoulet.

The hype in the food industry has grown to fairly large proportions in recent years (at least where I'm writing from, here, in France) but I do believe that, due to the shaky economic times we're entering, even the fashionable discourse will cool down a few degrees and adopt a more down-to-earth approach, of the "good products may be found in the most unexpected places" type (i.e. not where foodie magazines and, er, boards says you should seek them), and also bring back this old principle of "économie domestique": in some cases, perfection is inappropriate. The perfect thing is not always the right thing. The perfect ingredient is not always, and actually seldom is, the right thing to add to a composed dish.

Which does not mean that one should not seek excellent products, as far as their means allow, even for everyday cooking. I do. But I think the next few years will see the return of a few "get real" principles: like, for instance, even grown in the most optimally organic conditions and baked for hours in a salt crust, a beet remains a beet. And what about 12-year-old balsamic vinegar? Yes, 4-year-old balsamic vinegar is very good too. But I have read, a few years ago, in some press articles aimed at the common consumer that they should not settle for less than the 12-year-old.

Going back to cassoulet and beans, I have no experience of using Rancho Gordo beans and I am sure they're good. Be it only for the freshness factor. But cassoulet requires a bit of simplicity, being originally a poor people's dish. All you have to worry about concerning cassoulet is that your beans should be fresh enough to cook right and have the right texture — they should keep their shape and not melt into a purée. Also, and this is a requirement of cassoulet, they should be white-colored. Finally, they shouldn't be too small. French cocos or pea beans are too tiny. Flageolets do the job (as long as they're white flageolets, green ones won't do), as do mojettes, lingots, Great Northern, soissons, tarbais, haricots maïs, gigantes, lima beans, whatever fits the description.

As for piment d'Espelette, the matter is simple. It :

1) Is the product of a steady, forceful marketing campaign led the Basque way (steadily and forcefully) during the late 1990s and early 2000s. I sincerely wonder how it ever got the AOC (appellation d'origine contrôlée) when such a wonderful product as the pink onion of Roscoff has tried for decades, to no avail.

2) Has, at best, a mild, slightly fruity flavor and some fire, at worst (and I've seen a lot of the worst) it is as fragrant as orange-dyed sawdust. Besides, it ages badly and gets stale very soon when other chillies keep their flavor longer.

3) Is the chilli pepper of people who don't know anything about chilli peppers (hence its success in France). There is no chilli culture in France (or very little of it). Hence my belief that piment d'Espelette is dear to the heart of the French because it is the only chilli actually grown in France. (To be truthful, there is also Piment des Landes, cheaper but not so chic.)

4) Is the chilli peppper of people who don't like chilli pepper. Similar to point 3.

5) Is likely to get me to have my eyes pulled out by some French foodies or just Southwestern natives if I utter points 1, 2, 3 and 4 publicly. It would be like being in Brittany and saying that Bretons did not invent kouign-amann or something of the sort.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ok, I'll start the eye-pulling!

I love all sorts of chiles, from the hottest to the mildest, and I use them a lot in cooking. I think piment d'Espelette is particularly wonderful, with a special flavor profile that's similar to Aleppo pepper, warm and fruity. As I learned when I wrote an article about it for the July 2008 issue of Chile Pepper magazine, and for which I travelled to the Pays Basque and observed/interviewed a grower/producer extensively, if you cook with the piment d'Espelette, you're wasting it. You need to sprinkle it into the dish at the very last moment of cooking, or even after cooking, to retain its special flavor and warmth. And you're right that the quality is uneven. Those who want the good stuff would be wise to get it from Biperduna, where a couple of extra steps in the processing make for a really delicious product.

And I love all sorts of beans, and cook with them extensively too. Rancho Gordo's are the best beans I've ever found in the US, and I can't say that I've ever found anything better here in France. That said, I'm with you 100%, P'ti, when you say that Tarbais beans aren't the best for cassoulet. I'd rather use soissons or gigantes here, or RG cannellini in the US. I like the firmer, larger beans, since after all, it's really a bean dish, although it has a tendency to be touted as a meat dish. And a dash of piment d'Espelette sprinkled on a plate of cassoulet is a very good thing too!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's OK Abra, you may give me my eye back since you recall that piment d'Espelette should be sprinkled just before serving - that is indeed the right use for it. You have done some serious research about it and therefore are in the best position to get the real thing. However the quality, as you say, is so uneven that I think it is nearly impossible to get decent espelette in most cases, i.e. anywhere outside of the production region. For instance I have never come across Biperduna in Paris. There's only the red sawdust.

I still think it is not a very interesting chilli, as chillies go.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have made cassoulet based on Dave's recipe, and the results were excellent. The first time I used lingots purchased from a Monoprix, and that version was as emmorable as a subsequent episode using RG runner cannelinis. Unfortunately the authenticity of the lingots is somewhat ofset by the current airfares from Houston. I will continue to use Rancho Gordo, but I will still schlepp a duffel bag filled with beans, etc. when I can get back to France.

Hype in the food industry? Certainment! The worst now is BUrger King going to the far corneres of the globe to find burger virgins, so to speak, who would choose them over a McDonalds. Then the filming crew goes wild over the native dishes served after the commercial is ended.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 8 years later...
 Share

  • Similar Content

    • By dcarch
      Happy Bastille Day!
       
      As I was thinking of cooking something appropriate for today and have the music playing in the background. 
      I thought the lyrics of the France National Anthem can be slightly modified and used against the covid-19 tyranny. 
       
      I did make crepe for breakfast, but have not decided what to make for dinner. May be I will make something for tomorrow.
       
      Anyone have ideas?
       
      dcarch
       
       
    • By bleudauvergne
      Clafoutis de Fevettes au Parmesean et Basilic
      Serves 4 as Main Dishor 6 as Side.
      This recipe appears in French in issue no. 140 of the Saveurs magazine as part of a series of recipes accompanying an article on 'primeurs', or local vegetables that appear at the markets only during the first few weeks of Spring.
      It can be prepared with feves that have been frozen fresh, but I would not recommend using dried beans.
      This recipe should work fine with both American all purpose and French type 55 flour, as the quantity called for is slight in comparison to the other ingredients.

      500 g fresh young feves
      4 eggs
      20 cl milk
      10 cl heavy cream (liquid)
      70 g freshly grated parmesean
      2 T flour
      1 small bouquet of basil
      1/2 tsp salt
      1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
      fresh ground white pepper

      Preheat your oven to 160 C / 320 F.
      Blanche the feves a large pot of boiling salted water and refresh in cold water. Drain and reserve.
      Combine the eggs, the milk and cream in a large bowl and beat until well combined.
      Wash and dry the basil, remove the leaves from the stems and mince it finely.
      Add the salt, the flour, the parmesean, the pepper, the grated nutmeg, and the freshly minced basil. Add the young feves.
      Butter a clafoutis dish (noted in the recipe as 'un plat a clafoutis', but which a deep sided 10" square dish such as a corningwear would work, or a large loaf pan), give the batter a last mix, pour it into the pan, and put it in the pre-heated oven. Bake for approximately 35 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the center seems firm when you shake the pan.
      Serve it hot or cold, with a simple roquette salad or with chicken, rabbit, or veal. Goes well with a good rose champagne.
      Keywords: Main Dish, French, Appetizer, Hors d'oeuvre, Easy
      ( RG1243 )
    • By bleudauvergne
      Clafoutis de Fevettes au Parmesean et Basilic
      Serves 4 as Main Dishor 6 as Side.
      This recipe appears in French in issue no. 140 of the Saveurs magazine as part of a series of recipes accompanying an article on 'primeurs', or local vegetables that appear at the markets only during the first few weeks of Spring.
      It can be prepared with feves that have been frozen fresh, but I would not recommend using dried beans.
      This recipe should work fine with both American all purpose and French type 55 flour, as the quantity called for is slight in comparison to the other ingredients.

      500 g fresh young feves
      4 eggs
      20 cl milk
      10 cl heavy cream (liquid)
      70 g freshly grated parmesean
      2 T flour
      1 small bouquet of basil
      1/2 tsp salt
      1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
      fresh ground white pepper

      Preheat your oven to 160 C / 320 F.
      Blanche the feves a large pot of boiling salted water and refresh in cold water. Drain and reserve.
      Combine the eggs, the milk and cream in a large bowl and beat until well combined.
      Wash and dry the basil, remove the leaves from the stems and mince it finely.
      Add the salt, the flour, the parmesean, the pepper, the grated nutmeg, and the freshly minced basil. Add the young feves.
      Butter a clafoutis dish (noted in the recipe as 'un plat a clafoutis', but which a deep sided 10" square dish such as a corningwear would work, or a large loaf pan), give the batter a last mix, pour it into the pan, and put it in the pre-heated oven. Bake for approximately 35 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the center seems firm when you shake the pan.
      Serve it hot or cold, with a simple roquette salad or with chicken, rabbit, or veal. Goes well with a good rose champagne.
      Keywords: Main Dish, French, Appetizer, Hors d'oeuvre, Easy
      ( RG1243 )
    • By Drew777
      I'm a Brit. I'm also a closet Frenchman.  To cap it all, I'm happily retired in Bangkok, the city of a street food culture that's second to none. The Thais are healthy and slim. I'm just this side of alive and far from slim. Lockdown has me fantasizing about my days working in London, Paris and New York, an existence, if one could call it that, revolving around gastronomy of one kind or another. They paid me, not so very much as it happens, to do what I enjoy doing most in life. We all get to do it, but I was one of a fortunate few who made it his metier. Well all that's in the past now, but I still dream of my time in Paris when lunch was a tad short of 2-hours, little-known local bistros remained affordable until the day they were discovered by La Bible (Michelin Guide) and the students were revolting - this was the summer of '68, for heaven's sake. Someone should open bistro here in Bangkok with a table d'hote of Soupe a l'Oignon gratinee, Blanquette de Veau, a stinky Epoisses and Tarte Tatin to finsih with creme fraiche. Ah, it's back to lockdown and pad Thai. 
    • By TexasMBA02
      After batting about .500 with my previous approach to macarons, I came across Pierre Herme's base recipe online.  After two flawless batches of macarons, I've been re-energized to continue to work at mastering them.  Specifically, I want to try more of his recipes.  My conundrum is that he has, as far as I can tell, two macaron cookbooks and I don't know which one I should get.  I can't tell if one is just an updated version of the other or a reissue or what the differences really are.  I was hoping somebody had some insight.  I have searched online and haven't seen both books referenced in the same context or contrasted at all.
       
      This one appears to be older.

       
      And this one appears to be the newer of the two.

       
      Any insight would be helpful.
       
      Thanks,
       
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...