Cassoulet, the French Take on Pork and Beans, Only so Much Better!

by Anne Maxfield on January 31, 2011

Accidental Locavore Cassoulet

Cassoulet is a classic French dish of either duck or goose confit, sausages, and beans. It’s a great example of a simple dish, riffs on pork and beans taken to another level. The Accidental Locavore recently got an offer from D’Artagnan for 20% off their cassoulet kit. Since my parents were supposed to be coming for the weekend, it looked like a good weekend cooking project, not to mention a terrific January dinner, so why not? In between snow storms, a huge, really huge, box arrived from D’Artagnan. In it, beautifully packaged, was everything you need to put together a cassoulet dinner. Part of what makes making cassoulet difficult (in this country anyway), is assembling all the ingredients, but now that was all done, and all that was needed was a hungry audience. A very hungry audience. For in my ordering excitement, I never read the fine print, and had no idea that this cassoulet kit, actually fed twelve people!

Unfortunately, my parents have been snowed in in Boston for the past, let’s say, month, so I decided to round up a bunch of the best eaters I know and have a cassoulet party here in the city. D’Artagnan really makes it easy, the only thing I needed to buy was a carrot. You soak the beans the night before, cook them for an hour with a couple of onions, the aforementioned carrot, and a bouquet garni, and then move into constructing the cassoulet. A layer of beans goes in the bottom of a very large casserole, followed by the duck confit, some sliced garlic sausage, pork ventreche (fatback French style), and some duck sausage. Top with the rest of the beans, and pour over a mix of duck demi-glace diluted in water, cover and cook for about 2 hours in a low oven. You can’t imagine how good it smelled.

So my hungry friends schlepped through the remnants of yet another snow storm, and devoured the cassoulet, the braised leeks, a lovely spinach salad my friend Holly brought, and many bottles of wine. For desert Laura made a warm apple tart, and Robin brought an amazing chocolate cake. It was a fun dinner, a delicious meal, and the perfect thing for a snowy January night. I’d order another one from D’Artagnan in a heartbeat, it’s a great way to entertain.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Anne Maxfield February 18, 2011 at 11:01 am

I think beef stock would be a little strong, some chicken stock or white wine might be ok. The ventreche, and garlic along with the onions, bouquet garni, and carrot really do add a lot of flavor. I was surprised at how tasty the beans were when they were cooked.

Gizell Larson February 18, 2011 at 10:39 am

I am wondering if the flavors here need to be enhanced by cooking the beans in a chicken or beef stock with the onion/carrot as soffrito added to the stock. Just seems bland to cook the beans in water, raw carrot and onion.

Anne Maxfield February 9, 2011 at 12:01 pm

I would highly reccomend it. You’ll need about 4 hours total cooking time, but not even an hour of that is actual work. The beans need to soak overnight too. Let me know how it goes. ok?

Gizell Larson February 8, 2011 at 9:40 pm

Just what I wanted to read because I have invited 8 for cassoulet and planned on ordering the kit. Wanted a first hand report. I am so leery of such things and ordinarily do everything from scratch but I’ve never eaten let alone made cassoulet before so I’m taking the short cut.I will probably do the day ahead. Thanks

Cozy Friedman January 31, 2011 at 1:03 pm

wow! i’m impressed!!!!

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