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Best Cassoulet Recipe

The Best Cassoulet Recipe Made with Pork Shoulder, Duck Confit, Garlic Sausage and topped with Bread crumbs.



The pig on the sign at the restaurant

The fish market at the front of the restaurant

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 its 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.

French cassoulet is a hearty and traditional bean-based dish that has been savoured in France since the 15th century. Originating from the Languedoc region of southern France, cassoulet is a comfort food deeply rooted in French culinary history. The classic version of cassoulet is made from white beans, pork or duck fat, garlic, onions, and a variety of meats such as pork sausage, duck confit, and even goose. The dish is slow cooked until the flavors merge, resulting in a flavorful and rustic creation. The beans are simmered with herbs and spices along with some type of meat and/or sausages. The dish is usually topped with a layer of breadcrumbs for a crunchy texture. Cassoulet is a timeless French recipe that can be enjoyed year-round.

The preparation of this dish has been a tradition for centuries, as evidenced by the fact that it is still prepared using approaches from previous generations. Cassoulet is also known for its hearty, filling qualities, often served as a main course for dinner. It can be made ahead of time and reheated for an easy meal. It is also a popular dish to serve at parties or gatherings due to its rich flavor and hearty texture. This dish is regularly found in French restaurants and served for Sunday lunch, with some recipes taking up to five days to prepare. As such, making cassoulet can be considered a time-honored tradition in France.

Traditionally, cassoulet’s hearty ingredients were used to feed peasant farmers during cold winter months, although it has since become a beloved dish enjoyed in family homes, restaurants and festivals all over France. Taking into account all the time it requires to make the perfect cassoulet – soaking and cooking the beans, slow-cooking the meats – this dish is typically served on special occasions or during large gatherings. Preparing a cassoulet requires a combination of time and patience, but it’s always worth the effort!.

Interior of Au Pied de Cochon restaurant with white table cloth covered tables

A bowl of French onion soup

Copper pots in the window in Paris
Copper Pots in the window at the restaurant

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.

The best Cassoulet recipe
The best Cassoulet recipe

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 water because minerals in tap water could keep the beans from cooking evenly. 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. An alternative to soaking is putting a piece of Kombu, dried seaweed, into the beans when they are cooking. This helps them cook evenly and hold their shape as well as making them less likely to cause gas.

Beans also contain a natural toxin (Phytohaemagglutinin) that is removed by soaking and then cooking at a high enough temperature. Previously, we used a crock pot for this recipe, but a crock pot may not reach a high enough temperature to destroy the toxin. So, we switched to using the Instant Pot to pressure cook the beans. It’s fast and easy. 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!



The Best Cassoulet Recipe

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Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 6 hours
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: French
Servings: 4
Calories: 370kcal
Author: Lisa LeCoump
The Best Cassoulet Recipe Made with Pork Shoulder, Duck Confit, Garlic Sausage and topped with Bread crumbs.

Equipment

CHOOSING BRANDS:

For certain products, the choice of brand will make a big difference in the outcome of the recipe and in your carbon footprint. So, for those products, we have listed the brand. We are not paid to mention a brand and have no affiliates.

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • Brine the beans overnight in 4 cups of filtered water and one Tablespoon of kosher salt. Rinse well and put them in the Instant Pot. Add four cups of filtered water and one teaspoon kosher salt. Seal the Pot and set it to beans on high for 20 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally. Drain and rinse the beans and set aside.
  • Clean the pot to the Instant Pot. Set to sauté and add the onions, carrots and butter and sauté for 30 minutes or until browned. Remove from the pot and set aside.
  • 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.

Nutrition

Calories: 370kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 75mg | Sodium: 410mg | Potassium: 771mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 5400IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 95mg | Iron: 3mg

WHY THIS RECIPE IS SUSTAINABLE:

Check out the chart on the blog post to see how food choices affect climate change. This recipe uses responsible brands and items that are lower on the chart and the production creates less greenhouse gas.

https://tonyfitzgeraldphotography.com/2022/11/15/best-cassoulet-recipe/
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Nutrition Facts
The Best Cassoulet Recipe
Amount per Serving
Calories
370
% Daily Value*
Fat
16
g
25
%
Saturated Fat
6
g
38
%
Trans Fat
0.2
g
Polyunsaturated Fat
2
g
Monounsaturated Fat
7
g
Cholesterol
75
mg
25
%
Sodium
410
mg
18
%
Potassium
771
mg
22
%
Carbohydrates
28
g
9
%
Fiber
7
g
29
%
Sugar
5
g
6
%
Protein
25
g
50
%
Vitamin A
5400
IU
108
%
Vitamin C
10
mg
12
%
Calcium
95
mg
10
%
Iron
3
mg
17
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


Photos by Tony Fitzgerald Photography

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