Cassoulet…oh la la

At the beginning of a week, I enjoy making a large one (or sometimes two) pot meal that will take me through the entire week.  Nothing overly fancy or complicated, just wholesome, healthy, and filling.  Flavors that get richer and more intense as the week goes by, leaving me just as content on Thursday or Friday as it did on Monday or Tuesday.

One pot dishes that don’t require a side are the best to have in your repertoire.  Sides, while they have their place in the kitchen, just complicate a dinner.  Complicate it enough to make the actual preparation of a meal stressful and unfun.  At least in my books, but then again I am not a planner.  And you have to be a planner to get two sides completed at the same time as the entrée…all of it cooked correctly and hot.  That is just not me…maybe some day.  But I don’t like planning anything really – I don’t like planning parties, I don’t like planning nights out, and the thought of planning, say a wedding, makes me nauseas.  Not joking.  So side dishes are just out of the question, plus on a week night…beyond a side salad, are sides actually necessary?  Not in my house.

My new favorite one pot dish?  Cassoulet.  Cassoulet.  Sorry, I really like the sound of the word.  It sounds (even in my head) fancy and French and ooh la la.  It sounds fancier and more difficult than it truly is, trust me.  This dish is rustic and comfort food from start to finish.  Truly enjoyed with close friends and bold red wine or singularly with a cold beer and an inquisitive cat.

The only downside to this dish is the amount of time it takes to prepare the beans (about 2 hours :/).  I don’t recommend substituting canned beans because they will turn straight to mush and no one likes mush.  To cut down on the time prep the day of making, consider soaking the beans overnight…or if you have a free evening, be like me and do the quick soak (see, not a planner a-header).  Also, you will need a large dutch oven - something that can go from stove top to oven.  This is kinda sorta critical.

 Cassoulet

Adapted from Bon Apetit

Serves at least 5

Ingredients

3 Cups Dried small Great Northern Beans

2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

5 Chorizo Sausage Links ( a little over a pound)

1 Leek , sliced in half and cut thinly into half-moon slices (use only white and light green parts)

1 Yellow Onion, finely diced

6 Garlic Cloves, thinly sliced

3 Anchovy Fillets (optional, but they don’t add a fishy taste, so I recommend them)

1 Tablespoon Tomato Paste

1+1/2 Teaspoons Sweet Paprika

1 Cup Dry White Wine

1 Can (15 ounce) Chicken Broth

1 Can (28 ounce) Whole tomatoes, drained and crushed.

6 Fresh Thyme Sprigs

3 Medium Bay Leaves

1  Rosemary Sprig

Salt and Pepper to taste

Topping

3 Tablespoons Butter

2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 Cups Panko Breadcrumbs

Chopped Chives

Salt and Pepper to taste

Preparing the beans.

Place beans in a large pot and cover with about 8 cups of cold water.  Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes.  Remove from heat, cover, and let sit for 1 hour.

Drain beans.  Add fresh cold water (about 8 to 10 cups) and bring to boil.  Reduce temperature to maintain a simmer (medium heat) and cook, uncovered, for an additional 45 minutes until beans are tender – not mushy.  Reserve 1 cup of bean broth, drain remaining liquid.  Set beans aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium high heat.  Add chorizo sausage and cook until all sides are golden brown (about 7-10 minutes).  Transfer sausage to a plate and set aside.  Add sliced leeks and diced onions.  Cook until vegetables are tender (about 5-7 minutes), stirring occasionally.  If they start to brown too quickly, reduce temperature.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Stir in sliced garlic and anchovy filets.  Stir until the anchovies break down.  Add tomato paste and paprika.  Stir constantly until the tomato paste begins to brown - about 2-3 minutes.  Stir in 1 cup bean broth, wine, chicken broth, crushed tomatoes, thyme, bay leaves, and rosemary, and the beans.  Bring everything to a boil.

While you are bringing everything to a boil, preheat oven to 450°F.  Once boiling, cover dutch oven and place in oven and bake for about 30 minutes.  Remove from oven, stir, and add sausage and drippings to pot – completely submerge sausages.  Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Return to oven and bake for an additional 35-40 minutes until the liquid is reduced and thickened and the beans are tender.   If the dish begins to dry out, feel free to add extra water or broth as needed – a little bit at a time.

When you have about 15 minutes remaining in cooking time begin preparing the breadcrumb topping.  In a medium skillet, melt 3 tablespoons of butter over medium heat.  Once melted, add panko breadcrumbs, salt, and pepper.  Toss to combine and cook until crumbs begin to turn golden brown – stir often.

When the beans are done baking, remove from oven and sprinkle with the breadcrumbs.  Drizzle breadcrumbs with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Return to oven for an additional 10-15 minutes until the breadcrumbs are golden brown.  Remove and let sit for several minutes before serving.  Serve with chopped chives.

Remember to remove thyme and rosemary sprigs, and the bay leaves.  They will be easy to spot and can be pulled out at any time once the leaves have fallen off the sprigs.

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Comments

  1. says

    It’s funny to see this typical French dish with American eyes… Because there’s absolutely nothing glamourous for us with cassoulet! :-D (or, at least, not as much as you seem to find) It’s perfect comfort food for sure but it often has the poor reputation of leaving you… shall we say “feeling like you’ve got a hot air balloon in place of a stomach”? That’s the beans for you but if you cook them properly, it’s reaaaaaaaaaaaaally good! (but, please, no chorizo and no anchovies!)

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