Look, Ma! I Made Me a Cassoulet!
Clay pot cooking Holiday Cooking In the kitchen
I spent Sunday finally making a cassoulet. I’ve been curling up with Kate Hill’s Cassoulet: A French Obsession, for a week or so and finally decided to take the plunge. I will admit I’d been working myself up into a frenzy about this and now that I’ve done it, I can say in all honesty that it’s easily within anyone’s grasp to make an excellent cassoulet. I made a few compromises but it’s easy to stay within Kate’s guidelines. Well, a lot. Please don't hold it against her that I improvised so much. Her book is the real deal. The real secret is time. If you do a little prep, you only have to assemble things and then wait as it cooks in a relatively low oven. The pay off is the dish itself. How can you be in anything less than a great mood when you see this monster come bubbling towards you out of the oven? One of the steps is to brown the meat. After I’d finished, I tossed some bacon cubes into the pan and after they were cooked, I added some white wine and butter and used this as a sauce for some pasta. It was the perfect lunch while we waited for the cassoulet to finish and it made me feel as if I were a very good cook. So my advice is to not be intimidated, give yourself plenty of time for low, slow cooking, don’t get too hung up on the specific meats and sausages and make sure you have lots of friends over because this is one rich dish. Per Kate’s advice, I served it with a very acid salad to counter the debauchery of the cassoulet. Another tip from Kate: Keep warm bean broth on hand for basting. You may not need it but it's sure handy if you do. One last thought: Nobody seems to mention this part but your house smells incredible for hours. Cassoulet beans (from French Tarbias seedstock) at Rancho Gordo Cassoulet: A French Obsession by Kate Hill at Rancho Gordo Cassoulet Gift Box featuring 2 pounds of beans and Cassoulet by Kate Hill