Colorful Cassoulet for the Holidays

Cassoulet to Left Watermarked with Border

Hello All:

There’s no place like home, for the holidays...so the saying goes. With our son home from college, our daughter’s Christmas break about to begin, the tree trimmed and surrounded by presents,  I agree. There is no place like a full home for the holidays. Surrounded by the people I love, I feel content and blessed to be so fortunate. I think of those who lost loved ones during the past year, in particular the families of Newtown, CT. My heart goes out to them while I embrace and share the love around me.

This Colorful Cassouletis my gift to your holiday table. It is a rich, traditional French stew, filled with the robust flavors of delicately simmered meats—duck, lamb, garlic sausage—balanced by creamy white beans. Don’t shy away from preparing it when you see the long list of ingredients and cooking times. I have streamlined the recipe for you without sacrificing flavor, and much of the cooking time is unattended: beans soak overnight while you sleep, meats simmer while you pour a glass of wine and wrap the last of the holiday gifts. With a little planning and a lot of love as part of the mix, this stew will fill your home with heavenly aromas. It may become a tradition for your family.  It is for mine.

Thank you for visiting Gathering Flavors regularly, for giving my words here a place to be heard, a voice to be shared with each of you.

May you have a love-filled holiday season.

I look forward to seeing you in the New Year, gathering flavors in my kitchen.

Dena

P.S. Next post the first week of January 2013.


CASSOULET

Yield: 8 to Servings

While this is a streamlined version of this classic stew, there are a number of steps to follow. I encourage you to read the recipe, along with the notes at the bottom, all the way through before beginning.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dried white beans (such as navy or cannellini)
  • Pinch salt and handful black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 leg duck confit*
  • ½ pound fresh pork sausage, casing removed
  • ½ pound fresh garlic sausage, casing removed
  • ¼ pound smoked bacon, diced
  • 1 large onion, peeled and diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 2 pounds lamb stew meat, cut into large cubes
  • 1 cup puréed tomatoes
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 quart  meat stock (plus more as necessary)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For serving:

  • 1 cup micro-greens
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • Baguette
  • Bottle of your favorite French wine

Instructions:

  1. Rinse the beans, then cover generously with cool water. Leave them to soak overnight. The next day, put them in a large stock pot. Add the salt, black peppercorns, and bay leaf. Put the pot on the stove, bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the temperature to a simmer. Simmer, uncovered, until the beans are fork tender. Stir occasionally. Cooking time will take 1 to 3 hours, depending on the freshness of your beans. You may need to add more water as you cook, if enough evaporates off. Remove from heat. Cool slightly, then drain the beans but reserve the cooking liquid.
  2. Meanwhile, remove the meat from the leg duck confit. Reserve the bone. Keep the skin on the meat and cut into slivers.  Heat a large, heavy frying pan. Add the duck meat to the pan and begin to brown. Add the sausage meat and cook to a nicely browned crisp. Remove the cooked duck and sausage meat from the pan. Set aside. Keep the rendered fat in the pan and keep the pan hot.
  3. Add the diced bacon to the hot pan. Cook until lightly browned. Add the diced onion and garlic. Cook until both are translucent. This should take just a few minutes. Add the lamb stew meat. Toss it with the bacon and onions. Cook until the cubes are browned on all sides and cooked through to the center, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add the puréed tomatoes to the pan. Toss them with the meats. Turn the heat off under the pan.
  4. To assemble and cook the stew, set out a lidded casserole large enough to hold all the ingredients. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Place half the cooked beans in the bottom of the casserole. Add the reserved dug leg bone. Add the reserved, browned duck confit and sausage.
  5. Add the cooked meat mixture of bacon and lamb to the casserole, followed by the remainder of the cooked beans. Pour the wine in the pan used to cook the meats. Use the wine to deglaze the pan, stirring up any browned bits at the bottom of the pan. Pour this liquid into the casserole, then add a cup of the reserved cooking liquid from the beans followed by enough stock to fill the pan. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Stir. Cover the casserole and place in the oven. Cook until the meats are all very tender, about three hours.
  6. Remove the casserole from the oven. Remove the duck bone from the pan and discard.
  7. If serving immediately, divide the stew evenly between serving bowls. Garnish with bread crumbs and micro-greens. Serve with a crispy baguette and plenty of your favorite French wine.
  8. If serving later,  cool the stew completely and refrigerate until ready to use. Prior to serving, remove the stew from the refrigerator and skim off any fat accumulated on the top. Heat all the way through, adding more stock as needed. Serve as described in instruction # 7.
  9. Enjoy.

Notes:  

  1. You will want to start this stew at least one full day before you plan to serve it, as the beans need to soak overnight. You can simmer the stew the next morning and serve it for dinner. When possible, cook it entirely a day in advance of serving it. This will allow the flavors to come together. Just heat through fully before bringing it to the table.
  2. Leg duck confit, is a duck leg that has been long simmered in duck fat and preserved. It can be purchased at most specialty grocery stores. In the Upper Valley of New England, duck confit is sold at, the COOP food stores in the butcher aisle.

 One Year Ago:

Apple Tarte Tatin