Snow Day Cassoulet
I make a cassoulet only once a year.
Each year I try a different recipe.
It's a labor of love to make a cassoulet. Great thing to do on a snowday, when you are stuck indoors, like today.
Making a proper cassoulet can be time consuming.
You have to soak your beans the day before; roast your garlic the day before; find the right Toulouse sausages; confit your duck legs; and have everything mise en place (ready to go).
However, stuck in the house on a snow day, I found myself craving cassoulet and wanting to spend my day cooking in my cozy kitchen.
There are no rules to cassoulet. It is basically a duck or chicken stew w/ pork and white beans, so go ahead and cheat a little.
Some of my helpful tips:
#1: Since I don't live in France, I have no access to that wonderful Toulouse garlic sausage from the South of France that is traditional to cassoulet. D'Artagnan makes a very decent one, as does Salumeria Rosi in NYC. Good luck with that.
So, my Italian butcher's sausage it was going to be.
#2: I haven't smuggled in any duck legs from France as of late, and I don't live in Canada, and New Jersey geese just don't make the cut, so boneless chicken thighs will have to do (always available in my freezer).
#3: No time to soak dried beans overnight, I want to make this today, so canned beans from the cupboard to the rescue (I only use Goya brand).
#4: You may never have tried olives in your cassoulet before, but I felt like using them. From now on, I will be adding olives.
#5: Breadcrumbs? I always have a bag of excellent brioche rolls from Trader Joe's in the freezer for light, fluffy homemade breadcrumbs.
#6: Herbs. I have no living herbs in the garden, they are covered with snow, I live in New Jersey, so all I have is my pathetic rosemary plant in the garage, which works beautifully.
#7: You can use chicken legs w/ the skin and bones, however, I used boneless, skinless thighs and it was a great choice, less grease.
Don't be afraid to use different herbs and change up the quantities. If you have an Emile Henry oval French baker, that would be best for presentation, or a Le Creuset shallow Dutch oven is nice too.
Ok, that's all of my long winded list of helpful tips, now let's make the recipe.
Snow Day Cassoulet: (very loosely adapted from Cooking on the Weekends)
1/2 pound pancetta, cut into small dice
3 good quality Italian sausages, sliced
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 large onion, sliced into thick rings, and cut in half
4 roasted garlic cloves (place garlic cloves in a foil packet and drizzle w/ olive oil.......bake at 375F for 40 minutes)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon smoked paprika (pimenton)
1/4 roughly chopped pitted, mixed olives (kalamata and Castelvetrano)
14 oz. can of diced tomatoes
1 cup dry white wine (Pinot Grigio)
2 cans of drained, rinsed cannellini beans
1 tablespoon finely chopped, fresh rosemary
2 cups fresh brioche breadcrumbs
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 275F.
Add the pancetta to a large stockpot or Dutch oven and put it on the stove on low heat (I added duck fat for extra goodness).
Render the pancetta for about 10 minutes. (Rendering the pancetta slowly melts it, releasing all the fat and making it crisp.)
Turn the heat up to medium and add the sausage to the pot. Cook until it begins to brown, remove bacon and sausage to a bowl with a slotted spoon.
Add the chicken thighs to the grease in the pan and cook about 5 minutes on each side, just so the pink is gone and they are starting to brown, they cook quickly.
Use a slotted spoon to remove all of the meat from the pot and add it to a large plate, leaving behind any fat.
Add the onions.
Stirring every few minutes or so, cook the onions until they are very tender and are beginning to become brown, about 10 minutes on medium heat. Slip the roasted garlic out of their skins (yummy) and stir to blend (method is in the ingredients list).
Add the thyme and smoked paprika to the pot and cook for a couple minutes, until it’s very fragrant.
Deglaze the pot with the tomatoes and wine. Use a wooden spatula to scrape any stuck browned bits of food from the bottom of the pot, simmer about 5 minutes.
Add the olives, return all of the meat to the pot, and stir to combine.
Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer to reduce the liquid by one third, about 15-20 minutes.
Fold in the cooked cannellini beans and season generously with salt and pepper.
You can either bake your cassoulet in the Dutch oven, or pour into an oval casserole baking dish for authenticity (a copper pan would be really lovely too!).
Add the rosemary to the breadcrumbs and sprinkle the mixture evenly on top of the cassoulet.
Drizzle the entire thing with olive oil and then bake, covered with foil for 2 hours. Then uncover and place under the broiler to brown the top, about 1 minute.
Let it rest for at least 20 minutes before serving.
You can also prepare this in individual casseroles or cocottes.
This is DELICIOUSNESS.
ONLY 46 DAYS UNTIL SPRING!