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What Is Cassoulet?
Cassoulet is a French bean and meat stew typically consisting of white beans, duck confit, sausage, and pork shoulder or salt pork, but regional variations abound. The name cassoulet comes from the earthenware pot in which the dish is made (cassoulet is the diminutive of cassole, or saucepan).
What Are the Origins of Cassoulet?
Cassoulet comes from the former province of Languedoc in southwestern France. The town of Castelnaudary, the self-proclaimed capital of cassoulet, claims to have invented the hearty stew in the thirteenth century during the Hundred Years’ War. According to the legend, the townspeople pooled together the contents of their cupboards, creating a stew to feed the hungry French soldiers who were defending the territory.
3 Tips for Making Cassoulet at Home
Making cassoulet requires patience, time, and a solid gameplan.
- Start early. Like most stews, cassoulet tastes better when it has a long cooking process that lets the ingredients meld together, deepening the flavor. You can make cassoulet ahead of time and warm it in the oven for a weeknight dinner.
- Use a pressure cooker. Soaking and cooking beans is a lengthy part of the cassoulet cooking process. Use a pressure cooker to cook the beans, cutting down your cooking time.
- Keep it simple. Cassoulet is a heavy, hearty dish that doesn’t require garnishes. Pair it with a simple, vinegary green salad and a young red wine or dry rosé.
Simple French Cassoulet Recipe
Prep Time30 min
Total Time5 hr
Cook Time3 hr 30 min
- 1½ pounds dry medium white beans, such as Tarbais beans or Great Northern beans
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
- ½ pound pork rind (pork skin)
- 2 onions, thinly sliced
- ½ pound bacon, diced
- 5 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed, plus 1 clove, peeled, for pot
- 2 tomatoes, diced (or substitute 1 tablespoon tomato paste)
- 4 cups homemade chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth, plus more if needed
- 1 bouquet garni (cheesecloth bundle of herbs and spices such as parsley, thyme, bay leaves, and black peppercorns)
- 2 duck confit legs, halved at the joint into thighs and drumsticks
- 1 pound fresh pork sausages, such as French garlic sausages, sliced 1-inch thick
- 1½ cups bread crumbs
- Soak the beans. Place beans and salt in a large pot or bowl and cover with at least two inches of water. Soak at room temperature, covered, overnight. Alternatively, use the quick-soak method: bring the beans to a boil for two minutes, then remove from the heat and let soak one hour.
- Drain the beans and discard soaking liquid. Cook beans until just tender, about 1–2 hours.
- Prepare the pork rind. In a large pot, combine pork rind with 6 cups of cold water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and let boil for 1 minute, then drain.
- Return the rind to the pot with 6 cups of fresh water and repeat.
- Cut pork rind into 1-inch pieces, then return to the pot with another 6 cups of fresh water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium heat and simmer and simmer until tender, about 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large saucepan, combine onions and bacon. Sauté over medium-high heat until bacon fat has rendered and onions have softened slightly, about 5 minutes.
- Add garlic cloves, tomato, chicken stock, and bouquet garni. Simmer until tomatoes have broken down, about 20 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer bacon to a plate.
- Rub the inside of an earthenware casserole or large Dutch oven with 1 garlic clove.
- Add duck legs with some of the duck fat, sausage, and bacon. Top with beans and their cooking liquid. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat. Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Remove bouquet garni and discard. Cover the top of the dish with an even layer of bread crumbs.
- Place in the oven and bake until most of the liquid has absorbed and a dark brown crust has formed, about 20 minutes.
- Using a wooden spoon, break up the crust, stirring the top layer of beans. Return to the oven and continue to bake until a new crust forms, about 20 more minutes. Repeat once more, adding more chicken stock or water if needed. Serve hot.
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