Recipes

Cassoulet

James Beard

Author and Educator

Although it is not an American dish by origin, cassoulet has become a familiar part of our cuisine largely through its frequent appearance on the menus of French restaurants. One of the reasons it appeals so much to Americans is that we have a natural fondness for the bean. Another is that it is highly seasoned and hearty. Then, too, it lends itself to our favorite way of entertaining—the buffet.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds dried white beans
  • 1 pound pork shoulder, in one piece
  • 1 pound lamb shoulder, in one piece
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Duck fat or lard
  • 2 cups dry red wine, such as pinot noir
  • 1 onion, stuck with 8 whole cloves
  • Bouquet garni (1 bay leaf, 4 springs parsley, 4 sprigs thyme, tied together in a piece of cheese cloth)
  • 1 pig's foot, split (optional)
  • 1/2 pound lean salt pork (optional)
  • 4 garlic sausages or 1 large kielbasa
  • 4 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 cup plain bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley

Method

In a large pot, add the beans and add cold water until just covered. Soak overnight.

Pat the pork and lamb with paper towels until dry. Season with salt and black pepper all over. In a large dutch oven over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon duck fat and sear the pork roast on all sides until golden brown. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the lamb and sear on all sides. Add pork back to the pot and add the red wine. Bring to a boil, reduce to low, cover and simmer until tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Add water as needed if the wine begins to evaporate. Transfer meat and juices to a bowl to cool and cut them into 1 1/2-inch cubes; reserve all juices.

Meanwhile, add onion stuck with cloves, bouquet garni, pig's foot, and salt pork to the beans. Cover and simmer over medium heat until the beans are about half cooked, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 325ºF.

Return Dutch oven to medium-high heat, sear sausage on both sides. Transfer sausage to a plate, keeping rendered fat in the Dutch oven. After slightly cooled, cut sausage into large pieces.

In the same Dutch oven over medium heat, sauté chopped onions and garlic until softened, about 5 minutes. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Add carrots and sauté for 5 minutes. Transfer vegetable mixture to the pot with beans and mix in tomato paste.

Remove the meat from the pig’s foot and cut into pieces. Dice the salt pork.

In the Dutch oven, arrange a layer of the bean mixture at the bottom, then the various meat, broth, and wine. End with remaining beans. Cover the top with breadcrumbs and dot with 3 tablespoons duck fat. Bake until beautifully browned and bubbly and most of the liquid has cooked away, about 1 1/2 hours. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve with a good salad and crusty bread.

Traditionally, this dish is served in the middle of the day, since it requires some hours for digestion. So if you are serving it for an evening meal, see that there is to be some activity after dinner. Heavy red wine should accompany the cassoulet.

 

Adapted from James Beard's original recipe. Recipe photo and food styling by Judy Kim.

Yield

8 to 10 servings