New Year Cassoulet
My dad was a very frugal shopper; he loved finding a bargain and could calculate the unit cost of an item in his head long before any of us could have produced the answer with a calculator (if we had had pocket calculators back then). He died before the advent of warehouse clubs, so I've taken his place, scouring the aisles for the best deals in town.
I don't feel like shopping today--I don't need to. I know I already have enough stored in my pantry to last through just about anything but armageddon.
Let's see, there are 20 pounds of chicken tenders in the freezer, 10 pounds of onions, a dozen cans of diced tomatoes, several pounds of chicken sausage, and an untold amount of dry beans. Mmmm, sounds like cassoulet.
What is Cassoulet?
Cassoulet is a rich, slow-cooked casserole originating in the south of France, containing meat, pork skin and white beans The dish is named after its traditional cooking vessel, the cassole, a deep round earthenware pot with slanting sides The region once known as the province of Languedoc is the traditional homeland of cassoulet especially the town of Toulouse.
All Day Cassoulet
- 2 cups Great Northern or dried navy beans (see Note below)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 whole cloves
- 1 medium onion
- 1 celery stalk
- 1 medium carrot
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 1 1/2 pounds chicken tenders
- 1 1/2 pounds chicken sausage (I like Aidell's), sliced
- 2 large onions, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
- 1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 4 cups coarsely torn fresh bread (preferably from a crusty, rustic loaf)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
First, Prepare the Beans
- Sort and wash the navy beans. What do I mean by sorting? Spread them out on a cookie sheet and pick through them looking for rocks, small clumps of dirt, or shriveled beans. Trust me, you don't want to have those things in your soup. Beans are not washed when they are harvested--any moisture would cause them to mold, so please wash your beans to remove field dust.
- Next, place your washed beans in an 8-quart stockpot. Add enough water to have about 2 inches of water above the beans (about 6 cups of water). Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil 2 minutes and then remove from the heat. Cover and let stand 1 hour. This soaking time will reduce the actually time the beans need to simmer and will help retain nutrients.
Then Cook the Beans
Cut a square of cheesecloth, about 6-8 inches. Place the bay leaf, rosemary, and thyme in the middle of the square and tie up with string/kitchen twine. You want the herbs to flavor the beans, but you don't want them (especially the rosemary leaves) to get lost in the broth. This little bundle is referred to as a bouquet garni (yes, it's French!).
Push the cloves into the onion; place the onion, celery stalk, and carrot to the pot. Add enough cold water to cover to about one inch above. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer gently until beans are tender throughout but not falling apart, 40 to 50 minutes. Discard the onion, celery, carrot and bouquet garni. Set the beans aside--DON'T drain!
Next, The Meats and Vegetables
- While the beans are simmering prepare the meats. Heat one tablespoon of oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Dice the chicken tenders into bite-size pieces and season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook about 5 minutes, or until browned on all sides. Don't overcrowd the pan or the chicken will steam and not brown. It's best to cook in small batches. Remove the browned chicken pieces to a plate and set aside.
- To the same pan add the sausage and cook about 5 minutes or just until it begins to brown and caramelize. Remove to the same plate as the chicken.
- Now add the diced onion to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion becomes translucent and begins to color. Toss in the garlic slices and cook an additional minute. Add the wine and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.
Now, get ready to assemble the casserole
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
- Using a skimmer, remove half of the beans from their pot and place in the bottom of a dutch oven. The next layer is one-half of the tomatoes.
- Next, the chicken, sausage and onions, followed by the remaining tomatoes and the remaining beans. Add enough cooking liquid so the beans are almost, but not quite, submerged. Reserve the remaining liquid.
Transfer pot to oven and cook, uncovered, for 2 hours. Check the liquid every 30 minutes to make sure it is no more than 1/2 inch below the beans, and add liquid or water as necessary. Do not stir.
After the cassoulet has cooked for 2 hours, toss bread and butter in a bowl. Sprinkle over cassoulet, and return to oven until beans are tender and bread is golden, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Before serving, let cassoulet stand at room temperature for 20 minutes to cool and to allow the beans to absorb some of the liquid.
|Serving size: 1.5 cup|
|Calories from Fat||99|
|% Daily Value *|
|Fat 11 g||17%|
|Saturated fat 4 g||20%|
|Unsaturated fat 1 g|
|Carbohydrates 71 g||24%|
|Sugar 14 g|
|Fiber 12 g||48%|
|Protein 34 g||68%|
|Cholesterol 72 mg||24%|
|Sodium 632 mg||26%|
|* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.|
© 2014 Linda Lum