Monday, December 19, 2011

A Quick and Easy Cassoulet Recipe – Pork & Beans with Benefits

Of course you can’t make a real cassoulet in an hour, but you can make this very acceptable cheater version, and as long as you manage expectations, you’re in for a great, cold-weather meal.

Real cassoulet is an involved process, with several days of prep just to make the various meats served in this rustic bean casserole. Once everything is prepared, the dish bakes for hours, during which time the ritualistic crust forming and re-forming occurs.

Buttery breadcrumbs are scatted over the top, and when they form a crusty, golden brown layer, they’re pushed down into the bubbling mixture, and new crumbs applied. This is done several times, creating the dish’s signature texture. A creamy, aromatic, not-too-wet-or-too-dry bean mixture into which is suspended the chunks of succulent meat.

Here, we’re taking lots of short cuts. Chicken thighs replace the classic, and time-consuming, duck confit; canned beans replace dried; and bacon serves as a convenient substitute for other, more involved smoked pork options.

While it will be tempting to dig right into this as soon as the final “gratin” is formed, please follow the advice in the video, and let your cassoulet rest in the hot oven for 15 minutes. This will allow the beans and buttery crumbs to absorb the last of the excess liquid, and make for a better texture.

By the way, please adjust your seasoning depending on the sausage used. Mine was plenty garlicky, so I didn’t add any additional cloves. You’ll also have to taste and alter the salt, depending on whether your bacon and sausage shared enough with the rest of the ingredients. I hope you give this hearty, cold-weather classic a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 4 large portions:
4 oz bacon, sliced
8 oz spicy, garlicky, smoked pork sausage, sliced
12 oz boneless skinless chicken thighs, cubed
1 onion, diced
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups chicken broth, or as needed
2 (15-oz) can white beans, drained, rinsed
1 1/2 tsp minced fresh rosemary
1 1/2 tsp minced fresh thyme
cayenne to taste
4 tbsp melted butter
1 cup plain breadcrumbs
1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

16 comments:

Unknown said...

Is there a kosher version? Usually I'm good at adapting recipes but this one seems focused on the bacon. Sounds like you have a cold Chef John, feel better!!

Me.Eat.Food said...

Yum! Reminds me of a meat lover's pizza! This looks awesome for a hearty winter meal.

Anonymous said...

I've made one attempt at cassoulet last year. I don't think my beans made it to the texture I wanted, but my girlfriend proclaimed the best thing she's eaten. I know I can do better :-) I went back and watched your full version, and now I am cassoulet bound. Between that, meat pies, and more bread pudding, this should be a tasty holiday!

Now if only I could get the time to put together my homemade immersion circulator... I could confit anything I wanted! I was thinking chicken thighs in truffle butter... maybe I'll find time with some of these days off to play.

Also, BTW, for no-knead bread. I boosted the amount of flour to 17 ounces and am using 12 oz of liquid. This allows me to use a full Sierra Nevada Hefewiezen for one batch. That turns into some darn tasty bread!
-Pyrofish

Chris K. said...

How many bong hits did you do before shooting this video? You sound like B-Real. Must be all that travel.

I want to develop an easy casserole recipe based on cassoulet but I don't what to call it. Any ideas?

Anonymous said...

Rachael Ray has her own version called "Spicy Sausage, Chicken & Bean Pot" that I have been making for a couple of years now. It's very good. Her's is a little different & has grated carrot which really adds to it.

mcmatt11 said...

"cook the sausage in the bacon fat" - best phrase ever

Chef John said...

Chris,

I should be so lucky! ;) No, it was the classic flying twice in the month of December head cold. Happens literally every time.

Jeff said...

Does "regular" cassoulet use wine? Because I can totally picture a cup or two being poured in to deglaze after the onions cook

S/V Blondie-Dog said...

Uh oh... I won't be including this dish among my favorites.

It occurs to me that I would have enjoyed it more had I left out the cheese and bread crumbs and simply served it over some rice. But then it wouldn't have been a French dish.

Oh well. :)

1Bigg_ER said...

I tried this last night!!! Didn't even have to wash the dishes, everybody almost licked their plates clean!!

1Bigg_ER said...

Let me let you in on a secret. Cook this a day in advance!! The fantasticality is on some out of this world level!!!!

Anonymous said...

Hi John,

Can I substitute the bacon fat for the butter in the crumb topping?

Looking forward to making this.

Thanks!
Rosa

Chef John said...

sure!

Doug DeFrees said...

Chef John ... thank you for the excellent, quick cassoulet recipe! I've posted my experiences with it to my blog: http://sundaydinnerfortwo.blogspot.com/2012/03/cassoulet.html

And has someone has already mentioned, it gets better as it gets older, the leftovers are great.

Thomas E Mayer Jr said...

I made this last year for Christmas dinner with salad and Chef John's beer bread. What a meal! I think I will repeat this yearly as my new holiday meal tradition. This year I will make for New Year's Day 2013. I love casseroles so this one hit the spot big time!

aijiko said...

Finally made this. Despite having to use chicken breast instead of tastier thigh meat and then scorching part of the crumb topping, which I had to scrape off, it was really yummy and my whole family loved it. The fresh herbs really put it over the top. I'm so glad I'm growing them now so they're always handy. Thanks!