Cassoulet – The World’s Most Complex Simple Recipe

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Cassoulet – The World’s Most Complex Simple Recipe

There are so many reasons not to make cassoulet. You need lots of ingredients, some of which take effort to find. There are many steps, and even some of the steps have steps. It will also seem like you used every pot and pan in the kitchen, which will be trashed by the time you’re done.

Speaking of time, this is going to take hours to cook, but only after lots of prep. You still with me? So, why would anyone go through all that? That’s easy. Cassoulet is one of the most delicious dishes you’ll ever have. Plus, it’s great for honing your observational skills, since no two cassoulet are the same, and the times I give are only a guide.

If you use a different bean, or more/less meat, or a different size/shape pan or casserole, you may need to add liquid sooner than two hours in. Basically, just keep and eye on things, adding broth when needed, until you’re happy with the final results.

Depending on how salty your meats are, as well as how highly seasoned you stock is, you may or may not need to add more salt to the final mixture. Other than that, and notwithstanding all that stuff I said earlier in the post, this really is a simple recipe. I hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 8 portions (I used a 12-inch pan, about 3-inches deep):

For the beans and cooking liquid:
3 quarts seasoned chicken stock or broth (The beans should be cooked in a lightly seasoned stock or broth, so add salt to taste. I didn’t add any on camera as mine was already seasoned.)
1 pound Tarbais beans, or other white beans, soaked overnight
4 ounces ham, bacon, salt pork, or pancetta, cut in 1/4-inch dice (as I mentioned, I experimented with large pieces, but it was too much)
1 bouquet garni (2 bay leaves, 1 teaspoon black peppercorn, 6 springs thyme, 6 unpeeled garlic cloves cut in half, tied in cheesecloth)
- add reserved bones from your duck and pork if available
-- simmer for 45 minutes or until beans are almost tender
--- strain and reserve liquid

The other meat:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
12 ounces fresh pork shoulder or chop, cut into 2-inch pieces, seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 1/2 pounds (4 links) Toulouse sausages, or other garlic pork sausage
2 duck leg confit (most fancy grocery stores carry this, but you can order online, or make your own with this old recipe)
NOTE: This is traditionally a "poor man's" dish, and would not have nearly the generous supply of rich meats. So, if you want something more authentic, you can cut the meat amounts down by half at least. 

The veggies:
1 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced carrot
1/2 cup diced celery
1/4 cup tomato paste
3/4 cup white wine
1 teaspoon salt

The crumb topping:
2 cups plain breadcrumbs
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
2 tablespoons rendered duck fat
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup cooking liquid
(warning, I don’t measure this stuff, so just add enough melted fat to moisten the crumbs until they look like damp sand)

- Bake for 2 hours at 350 F for 2 hours, or until most of the broth is absorbed.
- Add more broth, poking down a little of the crust into the beans.
- Bake for another 45 minutes, or until well-browned, and the meat is fork tender

There are so many reasons not to make cassoulet. You need lots of ingredients, some of which take effort to find. There are many steps, and even some of the steps have steps. It will also seem like you used every pot and pan in the kitchen, which will be trashed by the time you’re done.

Speaking of time, this is going to take hours to cook, but only after lots of prep. You still with me? So, why would anyone go through all that? That’s easy. Cassoulet is one of the most delicious dishes you’ll ever have. Plus, it’s great for honing your observational skills, since no two cassoulet are the same, and the times I give are only a guide.

If you use a different bean, or more/less meat, or a different size/shape pan or casserole, you may need to add liquid sooner than two hours in. Basically, just keep and eye on things, adding broth when needed, until you’re happy with the final results.

Depending on how salty your meats are, as well as how highly seasoned you stock is, you may or may not need to add more salt to the final mixture. Other than that, and notwithstanding all that stuff I said earlier in the post, this really is a simple recipe. I hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 8 portions (I used a 12-inch pan, about 3-inches deep):

For the beans and cooking liquid:
3 quarts seasoned chicken stock or broth (The beans should be cooked in a lightly seasoned stock or broth, so add salt to taste. I didn’t add any on camera as mine was already seasoned.)
1 pound Tarbais beans, or other white beans, soaked overnight
4 ounces ham, bacon, salt pork, or pancetta, cut in 1/4-inch dice (as I mentioned, I experimented with large pieces, but it was too much)
1 bouquet garni (2 bay leaves, 1 teaspoon black peppercorn, 6 springs thyme, 6 unpeeled garlic cloves cut in half, tied in cheesecloth)
- add reserved bones from your duck and pork if available
-- simmer for 45 minutes or until beans are almost tender
--- strain and reserve liquid

The other meat:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
12 ounces fresh pork shoulder or chop, cut into 2-inch pieces, seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 1/2 pounds (4 links) Toulouse sausages, or other garlic pork sausage
2 duck leg confit (most fancy grocery stores carry this, but you can order online, or make your own with this old recipe)
NOTE: This is traditionally a "poor man's" dish, and would not have nearly the generous supply of rich meats. So, if you want something more authentic, you can cut the meat amounts down by half at least. 

The veggies:
1 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced carrot
1/2 cup diced celery
1/4 cup tomato paste
3/4 cup white wine
1 teaspoon salt

The crumb topping:
2 cups plain breadcrumbs
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
2 tablespoons rendered duck fat
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup cooking liquid
(warning, I don’t measure this stuff, so just add enough melted fat to moisten the crumbs until they look like damp sand)

- Bake for 2 hours at 350 F for 2 hours, or until most of the broth is absorbed.
- Add more broth, poking down a little of the crust into the beans.
- Bake for another 45 minutes, or until well-browned, and the meat is fork tender



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