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Cassoulet is a rich, slow-cooked bean stew or casserole originating in the southwest of France, containing meat (typically pork sausages, pork, goose, duck and sometimes mutton), pork skin (couennes) and white haricot beans.

Numerous regional variations exist, the best-known being from Castelnaudary, the self-proclaimed "Capital of Cassoulet", Toulouse, and Carcassonne. All are made with white beans (haricots blancs, lingots), duck or goose confit, meat and sausages. In the cassoulet of Toulouse, the meats are pork and mutton, the latter frequently a cold roast shoulder. The Carcassonne version is similar but doubles the portion of mutton and sometimes replaces the duck with partridge. The cassoulet of Castelnaudary uses a roast duck instead of mutton and serves it in a special dish.

Cassoulet is also sold in France as a commercial product in cans and can be found in supermarkets and grocery stores across the country. These cassoulets vary in price and quality. The cheapest ones contain only beans, tomato sauce, sausages, and bacon; duck and goose are expensive and thus are absent from such preparations. More expensive versions are likely to be cooked with goose fat and to include Toulouse sausages, lamb, goose, or duck confit.

Haute cuisine versions require mixing pre-cooked roasted meats with beans that have been simmered separately with aromatic vegetables, but this runs counter to cassoulet's peasant origins. The dish is named after the cassole, the distinctive deep round earthenware pot with slanting sides in which cassoulet is ideally cooked. In the process of preparing the dish it is traditional to deglaze the pot from the previous cassoulet in order to give a base for the next one. This has led to stories of a single original cassoulet being extended for years or even decades.

Many culinary traditions have similar techniques for slow cooking beans in a covered vessel. Examples include Feijoada, Fabada Asturiana, and baked beans.

 
  • Makes/Serves
  • 6 to 8
  • Preparation Time
  • 30 mins
  • Cook | Chill | Freeze
  • 1 - 1 hr 30 mins
  • Oven Temperature
  • 165oC
  • Oven Setting
  • Fan Forced
  • Freeze
  • No

Ingredients

  • 2 bay leaves
  • 425g can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 300ml chicken stock
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 Tbsp fresh herbs, chopped (such as basil, oregano and parsley)
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 onion, coarsley chopped
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 6 large pork sausages
  • 2 duck breasts, skinned
  • 1½ Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • 2 cups soft white fresh breadcrumbs
  • 400ml Passata or good-quality tomato sauce
 

Method

  1. Preheat the oven.
  2. Bring a pot of water to the boil and add the sauages and duck breasts and cook for 5-7 minutes once the water returns to the boil.
  3. Remove and cut the sausages into 2cm slices and the duck breasts into 2cm cubes.
  4. Place half the oil in a deep heatproof casserole over medium heat.
  5. Add sausage and duck pieces and cook until browned, stirring continuously, then transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  6. Add a little more oil and add the onion and garlic and cook till soft, 3-4 minutes.
  7. Return the sausage and duck to the pan then add the stock, tomato sauce/passata, cannelini beans, fennel seeds, bay leaves, thyme and rosemary sprigs and mustard and stir to combine.
  8. Heat a pan on medium and add the remaining oil and butter.
  9. Add the breadcrumbs and chopped fresh herbs.
  10. Stir to coat, and then cover the casserole with the crumbs.
  11. Bake for one hour until heated thorugh and the crumbs are brown.
 

Variations

This recipe has no variations