Monday, 2 January 2017


Cassoulet: a rich stew originating in southwest France containing beans and various meats (such as sausages, pork and preserved duck or goose).
Cassoulet Recipe - LifeStyle FOOD: Recipe by Rick Stein.
500g home-salted belly pork
65g duck or goose fat
1 head garlic, broken into cloves, peeled and sliced
1 large onion, chopped
1kg dried haricots, blancs beans, soaked overnight
large bouquet garni made from leek, celery, thyme sprigs, bay leaves and arsley stalks
6 good quality Toulouse sausages
4 legs duck confit, cut into two at the joint

1. Cut the piece of belly pork lengthways into three thick slices, then cut each piece across into two.
2.Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
3.Heat 50g of the duck fat in a six-litre flameproof casserole dish.
4.Add the garlic and onion and fry gently until soft but not browned.
5.Add the beans and the pieces of salted belly pork, cover with 1¾ litres/3 pints water and push in the bouquet garni.
6.Bring to the boil, skimming off any scum as it rises to the surface, then cover, transfer to the oven and bake for one hour or until the beans are just tender (this will depend on the age of your beans).
7.Heat the remaining duck fat in a frying pan and brown the sausages all over.
8.Lift them onto a board and slice each one sharply on the diagonal into three pieces.
9.Remove the cassoulet from the oven and increase the oven temperature to 220C/425F/Gas 7.
10.Add the sausages and the pieces of duck confit to the casserole and push them down well into the beans.
11.Return the casserole to the oven and bake uncovered for a further 45 minutes or until the liquid has reduced and the cassoulet is covered in a dark golden crust.
12.Serve straight from the pot at the table.

- How to cook the perfect cassoulet | Life and style | The Guardian: by Felicity Cloake.
The perfect cassoulet
(Serves 6-8)

800g haricot beans, soaked in cold water overnight
1 onion, peeled
1 head of garlic, unpeeled, plus 4 cloves
2 sprigs of thyme
1 bay leaf
1 small, unsmoked ham hock, skin on
2 confit duck legs and their fat
500g pork belly or lamb breast, cubed
4 garlicky Toulouse sausages
1 tbsp sun-dried tomato paste
120g breadcrumbs
2 tbps walnut oil

Drain the beans well and put them in a large, ovenproof casserole dish. Pour in water until it comes about 3cm above the top of the beans, then add the onion, whole head of garlic, herbs and ham hock. Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for about two hours, until just tender, but not falling apart.

Meanwhile, fry the duck, pork belly or lamb breast, and sausages separately in plenty of duck fat until crisp and golden. When cool, cut the sausages into large chunks and strip the meat from the duck in large pieces.

Remove the onion and herbs from the beans and discard. Remove the ham hock and, when cool enough, strip the meat from it. Squeeze the garlic cloves from their skins and mash to a paste with four tablespoons of duck fat and the fresh garlic cloves. Stir in the sun-dried tomato paste. Preheat the oven to 140C/275F/gas mark one.

Drain the beans, reserving the liquid. Grease the bottom of the casserole with a little of the duck fat mix, then tip in the beans, the rest of the duck fat and the pieces of meat, keeping back half the sausage. Mix well, then top with just enough liquid to cover – you probably won't need to add any seasoning, as both the ham and the confit will be quite salty.

Fry the breadcrumbs very briefly in one tablespoon of duck fat, then top the cassoulet with a thin layer of them. Bake for about two hours, keeping an eye on it – once a crust has formed, stir this back into the cassoulet, and top with some more of the breadcrumbs. By the end of the cooking time, you should have a thick, golden crust.

Drizzle with a little walnut oil, and leave to cool slightly before serving with a sharply dressed green salad.

Cassoulet: are you a fan of the Toulouse, the Castelnaudary or the Carcassonne variety – or do you prefer a Brazilian feijoada or a hearty pot of Boston baked beans? What do you serve with your cassoulet, if anything, and will anyone speak up for the unfortunate andouillette?

- Nigel Slater: End of the affair | Life and style | The Guardian
A truly authentic recipe would almost certainly include lamb, but I find it one flavour too many.
Even this simplified version is a major piece of cooking.
I tend to choose a rainy morning when I have nothing else to do but clear the decks and do some serious cooking.

500g dried white haricot beans
1 onion
1 large carrot
250g unsmoked bacon in the piece, with its fat and skin
2 or 3 bay leaves
2 or 3 cloves of garlic
8-10 whole black peppercorns
a ham bone

For the meats:
4 pieces duck confit, preferably legs
500g boned pork shoulder or leg, cubed
250g bacon in the piece, cut into large dice
4 Toulouse sausages
2 onions, peeled
4 fat cloves of garlic
3 large tomatoes
3 bay leaves
white breadcrumbs
a small quantity melted duck fat

Tip the beans into a deep bowl and cover with plenty of cold water.
Leave overnight to plump up.

The next day, drain the beans and put them in a large pan.
Peel the onion and scrub the carrot, then put them and the bacon in with the beans.
Tuck in the bay leaves, add the garlic, the peppercorns and the ham bone.
Cover with water and bring to the boil. Skim off any froth that appears on the surface.
Turn the heat down to an enthusiastic simmer, then leave for an hour until the beans are almost tender.

Meanwhile, put a couple of tablespoons of fat from the duck confit in a large pan and let it melt over a moderately high heat.
Add the cubed pork and fry till the edges are golden.
Remove with a draining spoon and set aside.
Tip the bacon dice into the pan and fry until the fat is gold, then add to the browned pork.

Cut the sausages in half to give 8 short pieces.
Seal them in the fat as you did the pork and remove.
Peel and thickly slice the onion and soften in the duck fat, then peel and chop the garlic and the tomatoes and add them to the pan, along with the bay leaves.
Return the meats to the pan and cover with water.
Bring to the boil, then simmer for about 45 minutes, covered, until you have a rich, meaty stew.

Drain the beans and keep the bacon and their cooking liquor. (You can throw the carrot and onion away.)
Cut the bacon piece and its rind into thick strips.
Lay them in the bottom of a deep earthenware or enamelled cast-iron casserole and cover with some of the beans.
Add a layer of the meat and onions, then another layer of beans.
Tuck the pieces of duck in among the beans, adding more beans and meat until it is all used up.
Top up with any liquid from the meat and some of the cooking liquor from the beans.

Top with half of the breadcrumbs and place in a low oven at 160 C/gas mark 3 for an hour.
Stir the breadcrumbs into the cassoulet, then top with the remaining crumbs.
Drizzle a little of the bean liquor and some melted duck fat over the crumbs, then return to the oven for a further half hour or so, until the crust is golden.
Serves 4, with seconds.

I wouldn't think about eating anything more than a few olives before a cassoulet.
There is little else you need with a substantial dish like this.

Afterwards is a different matter.
A crisp, white salad of chicory, frisée and watercress with a sharp, simple dressing offers a much-needed, exhilarating freshness.
Some form of tropical fruit salad is another option, or simply pass round a plate of halved passionfruits.

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