Do you ever have those moments where you realize that you’ve never tried to cook some classic, traditional recipe? No? Just me. My mom gave me a copy of Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” for Christmas one year. It’s an inspiration in classic French cuisine, but man are the recipes labor intensive. So you’ve got to be in a cooking mood and have a lot of time on your hands to recreate these traditional dishes. Well, I had one of those days recently and realized I’d never made a traditional cassoulet.
Apparently, cassoulet should have a nice crust on top with creamy, saucy beans underneath that aren’t mushy. This can be hard to achieve in an American oven without the proper cooking vessel. The dish is named after the cassole, a deep, round, earthenware pot with slanting sides in which it is typically cooked. This is not something often found in American kitchens, at least not in mine. So I cooked mine in a large Le Creuset dutch oven.
Adapted from Serious Eats
- -10 oz cannellini beans
- -10 oz baby lima beans
- -sea salt
- -1 quart low-sodium chicken stock
- -1 1/2 packets gelatin
- -1 tsp olive oil
- -4 oz diced pancetta
- -2 oz prosciutto
- -1 lb pork sausage
- -1 large yellow onion, diced
- -1 carrot, cut into 3-inch sections
- -2 stalks celery, cut into 3-inch sections
- -5-6 large garlic cloves
- -4 sprigs parsley
- -2 bay leaves
- -3-4 cups of ham, cut into large chunks
1. Cover beans in salted water. Let soak overnight at room temperature, drain and rinse. Set aside.
2. Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and preheat oven to 300°F.
3. Place stock in a large liquid measuring cup and sprinkle gelatin over the top. Set aside.
4. Heat olive oil in heavy dutch oven over medium high heat until simmering. Add pancetta and prosciutto and cook until browned. Set aside in a bowl. Next, brown the sausages on all sides and set aside on a plate.
5. Add another teaspoon of olive oil if needed. Saute onion until translucent scraping up brown bits. Add drained beans, carrot, celery, garlic, parsley, bay leaves, and stock/gelatin mixture. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce to low, cover Dutch oven and cook until beans are almost tender but retain a slight bite, about 45 minutes.
6. Remove carrots, celery, parsley, bay leaves and discard. Add meats, including ham, to pot and stir to incorporate, making sure that the sausages and most of the ham end up on top of the beans. Beans should be almost completely submerged. Transfer to oven and cook, uncovered, until a thin crust forms on top, about 2 hours, adding more water by pouring it carefully down the side of the pot as necessary to keep beans mostly covered.
7. Break crust with a spoon and shake pot gently to redistribute. Return to oven and continue cooking, stopping to break and shake the crust every 30-60 minutes until you reach the 4 1/2 hour mark. Return to oven and continue cooking undisturbed until the crust is deep brown and thick, about 5 to 6 hours total. Serve immediately.
Remington absolutely loved this hearty, meaty dish. It’s salty and comforting and delicious. Mine still ended up thicker than I wanted with not enough liquid or sauce, but it was still quite tasty. However, I recommend you add more water as this cooks in the oven even if it does not look like it needs it.
Enjoy! <3 K&R