cassoulet

it's so tasty and nourishing...everyone will love it


Cassoulet is a true family dish which originates from the Midi-Pyrénées area of France. There are many variations of the dish using lamb or mutton, pork, duck and local sausage.

It is a substantial meal, but one that is appetising and sure to be a winner. It is also a great dish to cook for your friends, they will love it too!

If you have a course to start with, make sure it is something light!


I first tried this filling dish while staying in the citadel in Carcassonne, but later paid a visit to Castelnaudary, which, it is argued, is the centre of cassoulet perfection. They were both great.

Since then, we've bought the ingredients and prepared cassoulet at home on a number of occasions. But, be warned: it takes a long time...but it's worth it.

Ingredients

·         1 lb ( about half a kg) haricot beans, soaked overnight

·         8 oz (225gms) garlic or Toulouse sausage

·         1 lb (about half a kg) shoulder of mutton or lamb

·         4 oz (125gms) streaky bacon, or lardons

·         2 cloves of garlic

·         1 medium onion with 2 cloves stuck in it

·         Small bunch of parsley

·         2 fresh tomatoes de-seeded

·         4 oz (125gms) breadcrumbs

·         2 oz goose fat or oil if you prefer (enough to brown the meat)

And:

·         8oz (225gms) of preserved goose (confit d' oie) - many supermarkets stock this nowadays, or if you cannot obtain this (from speciality food stores/or online) you can add more lamb or mutton, pork or even more sausage or a small duck! Use whatever you prefer or can obtain. The preserved goose does make a difference but it will still be fabulous!

Method

·    Prepare the haricot beans by draining them, then place in a large saucepan with cold water and boil vigorously for 10 minutes (instructions are usually on the packet)

·         Drain the beans and place in a heavy bottomed stockpot or marmite. Add enough cold water or  to  cover and bring to the boil, then lower to simmer.

·         Simmer for about 1 hour.

·         Now melt the goose fat in a heavy bottomed pan and cook the diced meat until it is brown on all sides.

·         Add the meat, the sausage, the tomatoes and the parsley tied in a bunch to the beans. 

·         Add the onion stuck with the cloves and put a lid on the pot.

·         Simmer for about 2 hours.

·         Chop the garlic and streaky bacon together and add to the beans.

·         Cook for another 1-2 hours.

Now it is almost ready to serve

As the cassoulet cooks, a brown crust will appear on top. Break this several times during cooking and gently push it down to allow new layers of beans to rise to the surface. If it has thickened too much, add a little more water.

·         Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the cassoulet and put in a pre-heated moderate oven and cook for another 30 minutes. 

·         As the breadcrumbs turn brown and crisp, break them up and allow the juices to mix in with them. 

·         Allow the breadcrumbs to crisp again and serve immediately.  


And to wash it down, a glass of a good light red wine makes it a meal to be proud of!  Fabulous! I do hope you enjoy this recipe.