I CUT DAYS OF WORK off the prep. My version takes lots of shortcuts. The traditional approach takes three days, so I devised a way to wiggle out of most of the work.
And, trust me, it’s delicious.
Leave it to the French to elevate a simple bean casserole into a gastronomic masterpiece replete with goose, pork and lamb. No wonder cassoulet, this ennobled one-pot bean dish, is one of France’s favorite bistro delicacies. The aromas whip sleepy wintertime olfactories into a frenzy as bubbling bean juices jockey around the tasty meat.
For years I’ve prepared a giant cassoulet for Christmas Eve or New Year’s Day. It’s a sanity saver because it can be made a couple of days ahead of time, refrigerated, then reheated for serving.
Traditional cassoulets use dry white beans from France’s Languedoc region. They require overnight soaking and gentle simmering. I use canned Great Northern beans and canned cannellini (large, white Italian kidney beans). The smaller Great Northerns offer a nice texture and flavor contrast with the larger, firmer cannellini. Garlic, onions, fresh herbs and a little tomato paste add the needed flavor boost.
So I don’t spend hours transforming goose into a ready-for-the-cassoulet confit (an ancient method of preserving poultry by salting and slow-cooking it). Nor do I braise chunks of lamb until they’re fall-apart tender. No pig’s feet or ham hocks, either.
Instead I use highly seasoned, roasted chicken thighs. Smoked, boneless pork chops cooked with diced pancetta (spicy, salt-cured Italian bacon) to add a lot of flavor. Plus slices of fully-cooked turkey Polish sausage.
And instead of the traditional breadcrumb topping, I toast thin slices of French baguette to use as garnish. Easy.
To get the recipe, click here
And, please let me know how it turns out. Take a photo or two. Send them my way. Have a happy, delicious New Year!