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Cassoulet
Cassoulet is a comfort dish of white beans stewed slowly with meat, typically pork or duck but also sausages, goose, mutton or whatever else the chef has around. This peasant dish originates from southern France and is popular in Toulouse, Carcassonne and Castelnaudary. The name of the dish comes from the pot (cassole) it’s traditionally baked in, which is typically shaped like an inverted cone to give a crust shape. This is a rich, hearty meal perfect for colder months.

Ingredients

140g pork rind
140g smoked streaky bacon
300g garlic sausage
600g dried haricot bean, soaked overnight in 3 times their volume of water
1 celery
 stick
1 small onion, preferably a white skinned mild one
1 large carrot
6 garlic cloves
2 ripe plum tomatoes
25g goose fat or 2 tbsp olive oil
1 bouquet garni
8 pinches of sea salt
2 pinches of freshly ground black pepper
1 clove
, lightly crushed
2 tsp lemon juice
To finish
4 confit ducks
 legs
60g goose fat or 2 tbsp olive oil
40g dried breadcrumb
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
a handful of fresh flatleaf parsley, coarsely chopped

Method

To cut the meats, roll up the pork rind like a Swiss roll. With the seam underneath, use a very sharp knife to cut the roll across into thin slices, then chop the rolled-up slices across into dice. Chop the bacon into small cubes (lardons). Cut the garlic sausage into 1cm thick slices.

Drain the soaked beans and discard the soaking water. Tip the beans into a large saucepan, add the diced pork rind and lardons and cover with fresh cold water. Bring to the boil and blanch for 15-20 minutes. Drain the beans, rind and lardons into a colander, and discard the cooking water.

Roughly chop the celery, onion and carrot. Peel the garlic cloves but leave them whole. Cut each tomato into eight wedges. (You never see tomatoes in a traditional cassoulet, but chef Raymond Blanc likes them for their colour and sweetness, so he puts a couple in.) Preheat the oven to 120C/fan 100C. (If cooking in a gas oven, use mark 2.)

Heat the goose fat or olive oil in a 26cm flameproof casserole or deep overproof sauté pan over a low heat and sweat the celery, onion, carrot and garlic for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and bouquet garni and cook slowly to get a sugary caramelisation (about 5 minutes). Add the sausage, beans, pork rind and lardons and pour in 1.2 litres/2 pints water. Bring to the boil, skim off the scum, then add the salt, pepper, clove and lemon juice.

Transfer the casserole to the oven and cook, uncovered, for 2 hours, stirring every hour. At the end of this time, the beans will be soft and creamy in texture and the juices should have thickened. You may need to cook it for longer than 2 hours (say up to 2½ hours) to get to this stage – it depends

Remove the cassoulet from the oven. Bury the duck legs in the beans and sprinkle over the goose fat or olive oil, breadcrumbs and garlic. Return to the oven and cook for a further 2 hours. Serve the cassoulet in bowls, sprinkled with chopped parsley.


 

french cuisine 3.jpg

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