Christophe’s Cassoulet

Our friend Christophe Pourny, author of “The Furniture Bible” made this Cassoulet during our Thanksgiving Weekend Extravaganza.  Of course it was delicious…he’s FRENCH!!  I asked him if he’d share the recipe with us…and he did.  Merci Christophe!

what a handsome chef

Yield:  Serves 6 to 8 ·  Active time:1 hour  ·  Total time: About 6 hours, plus overnight for beans to soak

vertical cassoulet before cookingIngredients:

  • 2 pounds dried cannellini beans
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 quart homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock
  • 3 packets (3/4 ounces) unflavored gelatin (see note above)
  • 2 tablespoons duck fat (optional)
  • 4 or five slices of bacon.
  • 8 ounces salt pork, cut into 3/4-inch cubes or Pancetta
  • 1 Lbs pork belly, roast or back, cut in 2” pieces.
  • 8 pieces of chicken thighs and drumsticks, or 4 whole chicken leg quarters
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound garlic sausage (4 links )
  • 1 large onion, cut in half
  • 1 carrot, unpeeled, cut into 3-inch sections
  • 2 stalks celery, cut into 3-inch sections
  • 1 whole head garlic
  • 4 sprigs parsley
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoons of bread crumbs
  • Herbes de provence, a pinch.

Directions

1)  In a large bowl, cover beans with 3 quarts water and add 3 tablespoons salt and one teaspoon of baking soda (or one Gas X pill the next day! 🙂 ) Stir to combine and let sit at room temperature overnight. Drain and rinse beans and set aside.

2) Place beans in a large pot with thick bottom, cast iron or dutch oven type, add onion, carrot, celery, garlic, parsley, bay leaves, cloves,1/2 salt pork, cover with chicken stock, beans should be covered at all time, add water or white wine to keep covered. Bring slowly to a boil, add gelatin, stir delicately cover pot and simmer gently until beans are almost tender but retain a slight bite, about 45 minutes. When done, using tongs, remove celery, parsley, bay leaves, and cloves and discard; carrot and onion may be left.

3) Season chicken pieces with pepper (do not add salt) and place skin side-down in now-empty pan. Cook without moving until well browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Flip chicken pieces and continue cooking until lightly browned on second side, about 3 minutes longer. Transfer to bowl with salt pork.

Brown Pork pieces the same way and set aside too.

4) Cook sausages, turning occasionally, until well-browned on both sides. Transfer to bowl with salt pork and chicken. Drain all but 2 tablespoons fat from pot.

5) Time now to assemble the cassoulet:

In  dutch oven place first in the bottom the slices of bacon, one layer of beans, the  pieces of pork meat, more beans, pancetta all around the walls of the dutch oven, chicken with drum bones up, more beans sausages, beans etc. Beans should be almost completely submerged. Sprinkle with the bread crumbs, herbes de provence, and one tablespoon of duck fat or oil.

Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and preheat oven to 300°F. Transfer dish to oven and cook, uncovered, until a thin crust forms on top, about 2 hours, adding more water by pouring it carefully down the side of the pot as necessary to keep beans mostly covered.

6) Break crust with a spoon and shake pot gently to redistribute do not turn with a spoon or disturbe the distribution of pieces.. Return to oven and continue cooking, stopping to break and shake the crust every 30 minutes until you reach the 4 hour mark. Return to oven and continue cooking undisturbed until the crust is deep brown and thick, about 5 to 6 hours total. Serve immediately

7) Dish is better prepared the day before; If so cook only 3 hours the first day, turn off the oven, leave the dish overnight covered with the dutch oven lid. The next day turn the oven back, take off the lid and cook 2 more hours or until hot and bubbly at the center of the dish.

8) Serve immediately, piping hot, from the dutch oven directly in the plates.

cassoulet-feature

Tips and variations:

Using Coconut oil instead of Duck fat may add a very pleasant nutty taste.

The gelatin thickens the cooking juices very nicely and holds things very nicely on the plate.

The bread crumbs on top absorb excess fat and form a golden brown crust.

Sprinkle with chopped parsley on top of each plate.

Do not stir while cooking the beans and then the cassoulet when assembled; you will damage the beans and the cooking meat. Cook slowly and evenly, maintain the cassoulet just covered with liquid; adjust with water or stock.

I used chicken legs; the original recipe calls for confit duck legs. I feel the chicken legs absorb enough taste from the other ingredients; if using confit duck or goose legs, open the can, remove legs, reserve the fat and use it for all cooking steps. Warm up  the legs gently in a frying pan for a few minutes; they are already cooked. It is only to get rid of some of the congealed fat they are coated with.

All meat amounts are flexible.

Smoked meat for some pieces are great.

All Pork can be replaced with Turkey bacon, duck or goose and Lamb meat.

Best wine pairing: Bordeaux blanc; Riesling; Syrah red cote du rhone.

Bon Appetit!