Food Lab: Traditional French cassoulet

I don’t remember when it was that I got it in my head that I needed to try making cassoulet, but, long story short, I finally broke my obsession with it when I got it right, which only involved one failure — which still ended up being quite tasty, even if I’d failed to allow it to have the right blackened crust due to overstirring. I’ll spare you the long story and explanation and point you to the Food Lab’s very thorough discussion on the dish, which I used as reference for ingredients and proportions.

If you don’t have salt pork, thick-cut or slab bacon is fine; try to choose a kind with a lighter smoke flavour, and instead of just browning it, cook it at medium heat to let the fat render out. If you’re lucky enough to have a large, inexpensive amount of duck confit available, swap out the chicken and duck fat and use the confit instead, but for the rest of us, duck fat and chicken pieces will do the trick.

You should err on the side of having too much stock on hand rather than too little, as this dish isn’t quite as good if it’s too dry.

 

Print Recipe
Food Lab: Traditional French cassoulet
Course Main Dish
Cuisine French
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 5 hours
Passive Time 8 hours (or overnight)
Servings
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine French
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 5 hours
Passive Time 8 hours (or overnight)
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. The night before, cover beans in 1 L water with 3 tablespoons salt and let sit at room temperature overnight.
  2. The day of, drain beans and set them aside, and if using gelatin, sprinkle it into the chicken stock. Dice onion, peel garlic, and roughly chop carrot and celery.
  3. Heat duck fat (if using it) in a large Dutch oven until very hot, then add salt pork and brown it. Set meat aside in a bowl when cooked.
  4. Repeat the above with garlic sausage.
  5. Season chicken pieces with pepper (no salt) and repeat the above.
  6. Drain all but 2 tablespoons fat from pot and cook onions in fat until translucent.
  7. Add vegetables and spices (omit meat), and simmer until beans are al dente, about 45 minutes.
  8. Remove carrots, celery, parsley, bay leaves, and cloves and discard.
  9. Stir pork and sausage into pot and set chicken pieces on top beans with skin facing up.
  10. Transfer pot to oven and cook at 300°F, uncovered. Gently add water/stock as necessary to keep beans mostly covered.
  11. At the 2-hour mark, break crust with a spoon and agitate pot gently side to side, then return it to oven and continue cooking until crust is deep brown and thick, about 5 to 6 hours total. Keep adding water as needed to keep beans from drying out.
  12. Serve hot from the oven.
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