We welcome back with open arms our Cassoulet beans. Grown stateside from seed stock from Tarbes, France, these are our version of the famous, delicious and mythical Tarbais beans. Some cassoulet fanatics will use nothing else. French production seems limited and the prices can be just short of insane (we’ve seen $30 a pound), so we decided to grow them here, calling them Cassoulet beans out of respect for the French farmers who grow Tarbais. This year’s harvest has been cleaned and they are magnifique! Is there a better cold weather dish than cassoulet? No, there is not. Please don’t argue with me. It’s futile. As good as cassoulet is, it would be a shame to limit this bean to this dish. They have a thin skin and hearty interior, making them versatile and easy to love. I had leftover spinach and added some cassoulet beans and ricotta cheese. Pals, it was a symphony! Like creamed spinach with no bother and no added fat! I can’t think of a good soup that wouldn’t be improved by a ladle-full of cooked cassoulet beans. The new crop has been very good so I don’t believe you need to hoard this bean but it’s always hard for me to know how long a harvest will carry us through. My guess is that we’ll be good until late Spring 2017, maybe beyond, but no guarantees! I find we get one really good article in a magazine or newspaper and then we’re zapped.
Cassoulet Beans at Rancho Gordo Cassoulet: A French Obsession at Rancho Gordo Cassoulet Gift box, featuring 2 pounds of beans and the book, Cassoulet, at Rancho Gordo.I’ve known Kate Hill for years and when she showed me her book on cassoulet, I had to have it. I took it one step further and thought, we have to publish it! So we did. Just in time for our 2016 Cassoulet bean harvest, we have this wonderful book full of lore and recipes so that you can have the most delicious winter yet. My holiday fantasy is to sit around a table with selected good friends, approved family members, good wine and a huge cassoulet, piping hot from the oven. A tart salad and a box of dominoes for after would make a fine holiday for me. With Kate’s book in hand, this fantasy is within reach. In addition to the classic cassoulet from Kate’s town of Camont, she also indulges us with an all-duck cassoulet, a quicker pork-and-beans version and much more. I admit to being intimidated by the whole process but Kate writes like a good friend helping you out over the phone as you attempt something just slightly beyond your comfort level. I asked Kate about her goals in writing the books and she said, “It was an invitation for people to try to bring a little France into their home, into their kitchens.” We started Rancho Gordo Books after getting a tad frustrated by the current state of the publishing industry. Our first book was Supper at Rancho Gordo and now we’re unpacking copies of Cassoulet: A French Obsession. I think this project is working out just fine! Last spring I spent a great day with Kate Hill and Georgeanne Brennan at Georgeanne’s home in Northern California. You probably know Georgeanne from her books like A Pig in Provence and Potager. I’m lucky to call her a friend! I watched as the cassoulet was prepared. It was so clear that everyone appreciated the attention to detail and the fussing over the various meats and vegetables. It was also clear that even though magic was in the air, making a cassoulet wasn’t an impossible task. As Kate says, at it’s most basic, it is pork and beans. The very good news is that you can create your magic. It should be fun, not intimidating. https://youtu.be/xAatC9cYZTQ Cassoulet Beans at Rancho Gordo Cassoulet: A French Obsession at Rancho Gordo Cassoulet Gift box, featuring 2 pounds of beans and the book, Cassoulet, at Rancho Gordo. This post was adapted from our bi-weekly newsletter from earlier in the week. To sign up, add your email address below, bottom right.