The Best Cassoulet Recipe Made with Pork Shoulder, Duck Confit, Garlic Sausage and topped with Bread crumbs.
CASSOULET IN PARIS
The cassoulet at Au Pied de Cochon – the perfect Parisian brasserie – was one of the highlights of visiting Paris. 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.
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. With some research, I was able to recreate the recipe at home.
CREATING THE BEST CASSOULET RECIPE
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 (that can take up to three days), 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). Soak the beans overnight in filtered water with salt added helps the beans hold their shape. The water is filtered because minerals in the water could keep the beans from cooking evenly. Beans contain a natural toxin (Phytohaemagglutinin) that is removed by soaking and cooking at a high enough temperature. Beans must be soaked for at least 5 hours, though overnight is better, and the water must be discarded. This will also make the beans easier to digest and less likely to cause gas.
Then we use an Instant Pot to pressure cook the beans. It’s fast and easy. A crock pot may not reach a high enough temperature to destroy the toxin, but a pressure cooker does. There is a setting for beans and the default cooks most varieties perfectly. 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!