Monday, January 3, 2011

10 Step Cassoulet

I loooove cassoulet. It is the perfect comfort food. It makes such a great winter dinner. It was only 61 today in San Diego and I saw a man in a full-length fur coat, so I think this is as cold as it's gonna get here.

I got this recipe off of one of my favorite websites, The Amateur Gourmet. He adapted it from Daniel Boulud's Daniel's Dish: Entertaining At Home With A Four-Star Chef. Daniel Boulud is the master, but I am happy the amateur gourmet adapted his recipe into something all of us can turn out in our kitchen fairly easily. While this recipe is not difficult at all, it is a labor of love and a bit time consuming. It is SO worth it though! This may be one of the best things I've ever made. The flavors just get better overnight and I am looking forward to cassoulet leftovers for the next couple days.

Our apartment smells ridiculous right now. Make this.

10 Step Cassoulet
  • 3 - 4 duck legs (figure one leg per serving)
  • 3 - 4 sweet Italian sausages (figure one link per serving)
  • 1/2 pound bacon
  • 2 pounds cannelini beans (do not cheat with canned)
  • 1 onion, cut in 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 head and 6 cloves garlic
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 pieces celery, cut in 1/2 inch cubes
  • 4 sprigs parsley plus 3 tablespoons
  • 3 springs thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 - 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes (juice and all)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cups bread crumbs
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • cayenne pepper (to taste)
  • paprika (to taste)
1. Soak two pounds of Cannelini beans in water overnight OR, if you want to make this instantaneously, use the "quick-soak" method featured in the Gourmet cookbook. Put all the beans in a pot, cover by two inches of cold water, bring to a boil, boil for two minutes, put the lid on, turn the heat off and leave for an hour. (If some beans are still too hard after an hour, add more water and simmer till all beans have softened a bit.)

2. Cut an onion into 1/2-inch cubes, 2 carrots into 1/2-inch cubes, 2 stalks celery into half inch cubes, and slice all the cloves from one whole head of garlic. Tie together 1 bay leaf, 4 sprigs parsley, 3 sprigs thyme.

3. Salt and pepper duck legs and sausage. Cut bacon into 1/2 inch cubes.
4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and in the Dutch oven, melt 2 Tbs butter along with 2 Tbs olive oil over medium heat.

5. Now brown your meat! Throw the duck legs in first and brown them. Take them out and brown the sausage next. Take the sausage out and brown the bacon till it renders some fat and remove that with a slotted spoon. Now throw all the meat back in the Dutch oven together.

6. Add your vegetables and herbs and stir and cook for 10 minutes.
7. Add 2 Tbs tomato paste, stir around, then add 1/2 pound peeled tomatoes (I used one 14.5 oz can with the juices), and the beans (just keep adding beans until it looks pretty full-you'll want a lot of beans, but I used just short of the 2 pounds) and then add water until the beans are covered and bring to a boil. (Dutch oven should be filled to about an inch or so away from the top.)

8. Cover the pot and bake in the oven until the beans are tender, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. After 45 minutes check to see if it needs more water, and if so add some. When it's done, take out of the oven and season with salt, paprika and cayenne pepper to taste. Just stir it all around and taste it.

9. Reduce the oven to 350 and take 2 cups of fresh bread crumbs, mix together with 3 Tbs coarsely chopped parsley, 6 cloves of finely chopped garlic, salt and pepper. Put half the breadcrumbs on the cassoulet, drizzle on 3 Tbs melted butter, put in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, remove from the oven, press it into the liquid to moisten and then cover with the rest of the breadcrumbs, drizzle on another 3 Tbs butter, and put under the broiler until golden brown (5 to 7 minutes).
10. Serve with some crusty bread and eat! The leftover beans and whatever meat you have leftover are great the next couple days alongside a salad. Yum.

We paired our cassoulet with a pinot noir from Domaine Drouhin in Willamette Valley, Oregon. This pinot was fantastic. Not too fruity with great spice. Soooo good!