Ok, full disclosure, this is a sort of cassoulet. That means it has the components of a traditional cassoulet, but with a much quicker cooking time and using ingredients you can find in any grocery store in the world. Maybe not the world, but at least in the lower 48 states, and Guam. Did you know Guam has the largest density of snakes in the world?
Here’s another point you might want to keep in mind. I didn’t use or adapt any previous recipe to create this, only my my mind. I normally use whatever is available to me in the fridge, pantry, or freezer and combine them into a complete dish. After the fact, while thinking about writing down the recipe for a dear friend of mine, I decided to look up recipes to see how similar mine was to a true French bean stew. It’s not that close but not too far off either. Such as the case with most French food and techniques, we Americans owe a debt of gratitude to Julia Child. I found her thoughts on cassoulet insightful, funny and frightening all at once. She says in her most famous cook book, Mastering the art of French Cooking Vol 1.,
“A cassoulet can be made anywhere, out of beans and whatever the traditional meats are available. The important item is flavor, which comes largely from the liquid the beans and meat are cooked in. You can prepare it in one day, but two or even three days of leisurely on-and-off cooking make it easier”.
Sooo…..Obviously no one is going to spend three days doing anything. That’s off the table, but how about an hour or two? Out of respect for our dear Julia, just make it taste good alright?
This recipe takes no longer than two hours from start to finish. It can be shortened by skipping a few steps if you are strapped for time. Again, the recipe is flexible. You don’t have to use everything I call for. You can also add to it if you like. You can make it super extravagant by adding things like foie gras, duck confit, rabbit, marrow bones or pork cheeks. Or you can keep it traditional, a simple peasant dish. Remember, either way, the end result will be something rich and hearty. A stick to your little belly kind of meal. Something that will warm you on the coldest of nights
Here are the ingredients to serve 4. Multiply as you wish. Keep in mind though that this will extend the cooking time. Also, chop your vegetables all uniformly, About a 1/4 inch dice.
8 sausages cut into 1/2 inch discs (Banger,Bratwurst,Linguica, even Kielbasa works. Whatever you like.)
5 cloves of garlic chopped
1 medium Vidalia or white onion small dice
4 carrots small dice
3 celery stalks small dice
4 small white creamer potatoes
1 cup frozen beans. (Butter,Lima,Hericot vert)
1/2 cup red wine
2 cups chicken stock or broth
1 can of beans. Drained (Navy,Cannellini,Lentils has been a hit in mine lately.)
Small can of tomato paste
2 tsp Herbs de Provence (or just 1 tsp each of Rosemary and Thyme if you cant find.)
1 Bay leaf
Enough Olive oil to brown meat and veg. As well as for drizzling on top.
Salt and Pepper
1 French Baguette
First put a large pot on med-high heat. Add about 2 Tbsp. of olive oil. As soon as you see wisps of smoke, add the sausage. You’re not looking to cook it through, just enough to brown all sides. Shake the pot around to wiggle the sausages so every side is browned. Remove and keep in a separate bowl. Keep the heat up and add more oil if needed. Add potatoes, carrot, celery, onion and garlic. Cook until the veg starts to turn translucent. Maybe 10 minutes. Pour in wine to deglaze pot. Turn heat down to med-low. Add sausage back to pot as well as the stock, herbs, tomato paste and frozen beans. Stir every 5 minutes or so, until stew has reduced to the consistency of thick gravy. Between 45 minutes to an indeterminable point. Just make sure to keep tasting after you are certain the pork has reached its doneness. (about 10 minutes after you lower the heat) Check to see if the potatoes and beans have cooked through.
I don’t add salt or pepper until almost the end of the entire process. The reason being, you never know how salty the sausage or the stock will be until everything has broken down like Claire Danes in Bangkok. Just keep tasting is my best advice.
So after you are happy with the thickness of everything, You have a few options on final presentation, because honestly, cassoulet isn’t winning any beauty contests. It’s a 4 in the looks department. You could, if you are starving, just serve it in bowls and sprinkle olive oil and salt and pepper on top and have your way with some baguettes and you are set. Or if you have time and really want to make it look and taste better, make a crust by toasting the baguette until it’s dry and crispy. Chop it up into small cubes and drench with olive oil. Pour cassoulet into a nice baking dish, then top with the homemade crouton and bake for another 15 minutes on 350°. This is what dreams are made of. I would eat this with a really deep, rich Cabernet Sauvignon blend or maybe a 2005 Bordeaux of your choosing if you can find it. Maybe rent a cabin for a week and cozy up to a heaping helping of my “cassoulet”. Enjoy!