On New Year’s Eve, our friends Larry & Erika were kind enough to not only come over for dinner, but they brought the dinner too! Larry is renowned for his French Cassoulet, and for good reason. Filled with all of the traditional meats – duck, sausage, pork, lamb, bacon…he makes a beautiful pot of stew, which we were lucky enough to share.
I’d never made a cassoulet, and I had some beautiful flageolet beans from Rancho Gordo in the pantry, some odds and ends of meat in the freezer from our farm share, so I started in on a simplified cassoulet. I looked at recipes from Mark Bittman and Cook’s Illustrated for reference, omitted the chicken/duck, and started cooking.
The recipe looks really fussy, and maybe it is, but if you take it one step at a time, split the cooking time over two nights, you’ll find this a pretty reasonable dish to put together. Nothing too difficult about the recipe, it just takes some time. I soaked the beans overnight on Wednesday, cooked the beans on Thursday, and put the cassoulet together on Friday. We shared it with friends for dinner on Saturday, with plenty of leftovers for the week ahead. Stews are always better the next day, so I highly recommend making this the day before you plan to serve it.
12 Weight Watchers Points per serving
1 lb Flageolet beans
1 small onion
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2 bay leaves
2 stalks celery
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 fresh chicken back
3/4 lb lamb stew, fat trimmed off, cut into 1″ cubes
1 lb beef stew, fat trimmed off, cut into 1″ cubes
8 oz Wellshire Farms Andouille sausage, diced
3 slices bacon, diced
2 large carrots, peeled, diced
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
1 14oz can diced tomatoes
2 T tomato paste
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
2 cups chicken stock
1 T fresh thyme
1/4 tsp ground cloves
salt & pepper to taste
Cooking the beans:
Soak the beans overnight in a large bowl, covering the beans with at least three inches of water. The next day, cook the beans in a large pot, cover the beans with at least 2 inches of water with carrot, celery, thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, garlic and chicken back. Bring the beans to a boil, cook for 5 minutes at a rolling boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer the beans for 1 1/2 – 2 hours, or until beans are tender. If you’re going to store the beans overnight, take out the vegetables, chicken back and aromatics, and put the whole pot in the fridge.
Making the cassoulet:
- Heat a large (7-8 qt) dutch oven over medium heat. Add andouille sausage and saute until it begins to brown. Remove sausage with a slotted spoon and set aside in the fridge. You won’t need the sausage for awhile.
- While pot is still on medium heat, add diced bacon and cook until crisp. Remove bacon, drain on paper towel and set aside. Leave 2 T of bacon grease in the pot, and brown the beef and lamb in small batches, cooking 1-2 minutes per side. After the batches of meat are browned, reserve them in a bowl.
- Add the onions, garlic and carrots to the pot, and saute for 5-7 minutes, until onions are soft and translucent. Add tomato paste, ground cloves and thyme, and saute for 1 minute, until fragrant. Add white wine, bay leaves, canned tomatoes and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add beef and lamb to the pot.
- Take the pot of white beans out, and drain in a colander, removing any lingering bits of chicken bone and vegetables from the pot. Add the beans and reserved bacon to the cassoulet pot, and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 30-40 minutes, until carrots are tender and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add andouille sausage, and cook for 10 more minutes. Remove bay leaves and serve immediately, or refrigerate overnight and serve the next day.