Cassoulet From Cans, a One-Pot Wonder for New Year’s Day

Cooking, Recipes By Dec 28, 2010

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!

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