Saturday, January 17, 2009

Cassoulet - More than Just the Greatest Baked Beans Recipe Ever

I have several unpublished blog posts about my picks of the world's all-time top-ten recipes. The reason none have gone live yet is I can never settle on just ten, so I put it away and write something easier. While I may not be able to provide a final list yet, one recipe that will always be in my top ten is cassoulet.

This video recipe for cassoulet shows my version of the iconic French classic (it’s so delicious I meant for that to be redundant). Like America's mac and cheese, Spain's paella, and Italy's lasagna, this Frenc
h baked bean and meat masterpiece has earned its rightful place in the pantheon of one-dish wonders.

There are hundreds of variations, but the basic formula is always the same; tender white beans, aromatic vegetables, flavorful broth, and fatty meats, all baked under a divinely crisp, garlicky, breadcrumb crust. As you'll see, this topping is usually built in two stages - the first a moist liaison between cassoulet and crust, and the second a crisp golden-brown climax to the world's sexiest casserole. Enjoy!

Note: I've linked to this duck confit recipe video I did a while ago, but most high-end markets sell, or can get duck confit already cooked and ready to use. I actually got mine at Costco.

Also, the panko breadcrumbs, which work so well for this, are now found in the Asian section of every major grocery chain. If you can't find them use plain fresh white breadcrumbs.


For the beans:
1 pound great northern beans, soaked overnight and drained
1 bay leaf
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1/2 onion
1 whole clove
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried thyme
10 cups water

For the rest:
1/2 pound thick-sliced bacon
1/2 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
1 tsp herb de Provence (or other dried herb blend)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 pound pork sausage
1 pound cooked duck confit

For the topping:
1/4 cup butter
4 cloves, crushed garlic
2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
1 bunch parsley, chopped fine
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 tbsp olive oil


Anonymous said...

This looks fantastic. I make my own bread crumbs from homemade bread. Will those do reasonably well in this dish?

Chef John said...

yes, those are the best.

Minichef said...

hey, and great recipe, im gonna tried, hi chef u are the best.
please add me,



Pyrofish said...

Yay! Thank you Chef John! I know I'm not the only one who requested it, but Thank you. I tried twice over the holidays to make this, sort of guessing along the way. Now I have your guidelines and I can see a few places where I went wrong. You're the bomb Chef. As soon as my income tax comes in, you're getting another donation :-)

ghanima said...

Looks like your varied from mine in a few key spots (e.g., I didn't add a breadcrumb topping to mine), but we were both brilliant enough to make sure to add the duck confit. It's nice to be in good company.

anugrah15 said...

this looks soooooo yummy....if the beans didn't need to be soaked overnight, i would be eating this right now!! in fact i've just soaked some for tomorrow...i'm sure it'll be worth the wait..thanks chef!!

Anonymous said...

I too requested this. Thanks so much - much appreciated, JH

hkfreak said...


That's it, I'm never going to make this...never...never my life...maybe.

Anonymous said...

This is a very, very good demo for a delicious-looking version of my favorite dish. I am going to be visiting your blog often after seeing this.

Anonymous said...

Do you have a recipe for a more traditional baked bean? Like the kind you get at showers and pot lucks?

Chef John said...

I've never filmed baked beans, I'll have to add it to the list.

Anonymous said...

Chef john, how should I make this in just a regualr stainless pot that doesn't go in to the oven?
Can I just simmer it on the lowest heat setting? If i can, how long should I do it?

Chef John said...

This has to go on the oven. the crust makes the dish.

Anne Green said...

If you can't find the duck can I use chicken thighs and drums? Should I add some fat?

Chef John said...

Chicken is fine!

Anonymous said...

Chef John! What do you think of their 4 rules, after all they are the "originals"!

matanuska said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
matanuska said...

Hi, just wanted to report that this recipe turned out to be delicious--as close as we've come so far to tasting like the wonderful cassoulet we had in Carcassonne, France! A question: can this recipe or any part of it be prepared ahead of time but with the same good results?

Chef John said...

sure make it ahead! it's better the next day!

Unknown said...

Hi chef John,
How many servings does this recipe provide for?

Chef John said...

Maybe 4? Depends how hungry you are! ;)

Ron Williams said...

Video has gone missing!

Steve Kennedy said...

Right click on the video and select "watch on vimeo", or you can go here and get it.

Jim said...

I have made this recipe five times. Six counting what is on the range top right now.
I have replaced Great Northern Beans with Flageolet Beans from Zursun Idaho or I ordered Cassoulet Beans from Rancho Gordo.
Great success departing from Northern beans which still work well with this recipe.

Jim said...

I have made Chef John's cassoulet recipe many times. My greatest success is using Harcourt
I am having my backyard landscaped. Today, I presented at mid-day my cassoulet to my hard working four man mostly Spanish speaking landscape crew. These men ate with enthusiasm and thanked me many times for this wonderful meal. The 'boss' said: "my guys never tasted anything like this before. I was wonderful."