Cassoulet is traditional French peasant fair; intended to make a hearty meal out of what’s on hand. Multiple French cities claim to be the dish’s origination point, though no one appears to know the truth of the matter for sure. As is the way with beloved foods, each city, nay, each person in each city, has their own perfect way of cooking the dish. (FYI: When defending these secret family recipes people might get a little hot under the collar.) The ingredients for Cassoulet may vary depending on who you talk to; but there will always be white beans, and most likely some type of pork (though duck, goose, mutton and other meats certainly been known to make an appearance). Duck confit also shows up in a great deal of the recipes. Regardless of weather you’re on team pork or team duck, or even team toss it all in, a Cassoulet is slow cooked for a long time resulting in heartbreakingly creamy beans and supremely tender meat.
The other thing you might have already guessed, but should definitely have confirmed? Cassoulet is absolutely divine.
Now, I assume you can clearly tell I am not French. I’m fascinated with France. I am deeply impressed by French food and culture. The closest I probably come to being officially French is by way of my French speaking Haitian Grandmother. While there are some cultural crossovers as far as I can tell, I’m pretty sure it’s not totally the same thing. As I am not French I probably have no right to share a cassoulet recipe with you.
As mentioned prior the French take their Cassoulet very, very, seriously. In fact, so seriously there is an organization in France to monitor and maintain the correct standards of Cassoulet making. (Academie du Cassoulet) I’m pretty sure that those convicted of making Cassoulet THE. WRONG. WAY. can in fact be sentenced to the la guillotine. Stiff anti crime policy in France you know.
Fortunately, for me, I live in America, where I am free to share my shocking-non-French-adapted-for-simplicity Cassoulet recipe without fear of beheading. Fortunately for you, this recipe is much like the traditional Cassoulet of France in that it is absolutely divine. Enjoy!
P.S. To any French readers out there, please forgive my adapting, and feel free to leave a comment and share an authentic recipe.
Dutch Oven Cassoulet
- 6 pork sausages (I actually recommend using Italian.)
- 4 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 onion diced
- Five 15oz cans of Cannelloni or Great Northern Beans, drained and rinsed
- 32 oz low sodium chicken broth
1. Heat a dutch oven (or other pan that is both stove top and oven safe) to medium high heat. Add the sausages and cook until browned on all sides. Remove the sausages and set aside temporarily. DO NOT drain off any of the sausage grease. It will be acting as our fat for cooking the beans.
2. Add the garlic and onion to the dutch oven and sauté until the onion is translucent and the garlic is golden brown.
3. Return the sausage to the pan. Add the drained and rinsed beans to the pan. Add as much chicken broth to the dutch oven as will fit without spills. Reserve any extra broth, it can be added to the pan later.
4. Bake, uncovered at 350* for 6-8 hours. Check the Cassoulet periodically, add additional broth (or water) as needed when the cooking liquid evaporates. The Cassoulet will be good to serve within four hours, when the broth is mostly absorbed and a thick stew like consistency has been achieved. However, the longer you cook the dish the better it will taste, and the creamier the beans will become.
This pairs well with crusty bread an a nice green salad.
*Important Note: As the Cassoulet cooks a thin, lightly crisp, “skin” will begin to form on top of the dish. This is supposed to happen, and ideally the “skin” will have built up fairly well by the time you are ready to serve the dish. If you need to add broth or water to the dish, use a spoon to gently break a hole in the center of the skin to let the broth underneath.
The photo above is an example of the skin that will develop over the Cassoulet as it cooks. Obviously that is a casserole pan not a dutch oven, I tried the recipe out in both (but totally forgot to take a picture of the dutch oven). I found the dutch oven to be more efficient as it could travel from stove top to oven without loosing any of those lovely browned bits or grease. Feel free to use a casserole pan for the recipe if you prefer.