The cassoulet at Au Pied de Cochon – the perfect Parisian brasserie – was one of the highlights of visiting Paris. On this particular trip, we were there in the winter, so the restaurant was serving le Cassoulet Toulousain. This means it is in the style of the way it is made in Toulouse, which is a classic. It is made with pork shoulder, duck confit, garlic sausage and topped with bread crumbs. With some research, I was able to recreate the recipe at home.
The restaurant is in the area of Les Halles which was famous for it’s market until the market was moved out of town. The food reflects this by serving classic brasserie dishes.
The mirror lined dining room is just what you would picture in a Parisian brasserie. Of course, we had to order the French onion soup and cassoulet.
Back home, when I found out that Rancho Gordo actually sold Tarbais beans, the traditional French bean used in cassoulet, I decided to recreate the recipe. First, I made sure all of the ingredients were the best I could possibly get my hands on. Then, instead of making it using the classic, time consuming method, I incorporated some techniques that I thought would improve the recipe and also make it quicker and easier.
Beans are less likely to burst and will cook through more evenly when they are brined This recipe is really all about the beans, so the first step was brining the beans (see our post about Cooking Heirloom Beans). Then I used a small crock pot because it is amazing for cooking beans. It also frees up the oven, and it uses less electricity so it is better for the environment (and the budget).
I held back the wine and the tomatoes, which are usually added at the beginning. They are acidic and the beans cook more evenly without them, so I added them at the end. The wine was used to deglaze the pan. This added more flavor, and cooked off some of the alcohol. The tomatoes were added as tomato paste, so their flavor was already concentrated. The garlic was roasted instead of added raw, because, well who doesn’t like roasted garlic.
I made the bread crumbs from leftover home made bread, and sauted them in the pan that I fried the pork in, using some of the left over pork fat, adding even more flavor.
The recipe worked marvelously and the dish was stunning!
- crock pot
- 1 cup Tarbais cassoulet beans Tarbais beans are the classic bean used in French Cassoulet. The skins are thinner and the beans cook up soft and buttery. These are from Rancho Gordo.
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 medium carrots, finely chopped organic from Dirty Girl Produce
- 1 lb bone in, skin on, pork shoulder black pig from El Salchichero
- 1 leaf bay from World Spice Market
- 2 sprigs thyme from our garden
- 2 sprigs Italian parsley from our garden
- 5 cloves roasted garlic, pressed through a garlic press home made roasted garlic
- 1/4 cup white wine Decoy sauvignon blanc from Duckhorn (and then drink the rest with the meal)
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 2 tablespoon tomato paste home made from roasted tomatoes
- 2 slices bread home made focaccia
- 1/4 lb garlic sausage from El Salchichero
- 2 pieces duck confit leg and thigh combined from D'Artagnan
- Brine the beans overnight in the crock pot using 4 cups of filtered water and one Tablespoon of kosher salt. Rinse well and put them back in the crock pot. Add four cups of filtered water and one teaspoon kosher salt.
- Saute the onions and carrots in butter until browned.
- Cut pork shoulder into 1 1/2 inch chunks and brown on all sides. Remove the pork, cut off the pork skin, slice into strips and saute until crisp. Save for later.
- Add pork, onions, carrots, garlic to the beans. Place the bay, theme, and parsley on top. Set the crock pot to the required amount of time (ours took 6 hours) and start cooking.
- Pour off the oil from the pan and deglaze the saute pan using the wine and scraping up the bits off the bottom of the pan. Pour the liquid through a strainer and save for later.
- When beans are completely cooked until they are soft, remove any stems of the herbs and the pork bone, and add the tomato paste and the deglazing liquid. Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat the duck confit in the oven and then crisp the skin under the broiler, or do this in a pan. Cut the meat off the bones.
- Saute the sausage until brown and slice into one inch pieces.
- Grind up bread to make bread crumbs using a grinder or food processor.
- Serve up the beans in bowls, making sure each bowl has pork pieces and sausage. Top with the duck confit, skin side up to keep it crispy, the pork skins and the bread crumbs.