Making the most of the last few cold days we are having, I really wanted to make this dish. It is somewhat a labour of love and patience. You will need to begin this recipe the day before. What really inspired me to make this dish was the opportunity to use real home made Italian sausages. I’ll tell you more about this in another post. For now, here is my take on this beautiful slow cooked bean stew or casserole we know as Cassoulet.
This recipe makes a large quantity – which in my opinion is fantastic as the depth of flavour is amazing by the second and third day.
700g dried cannelini or haricot beans
500g pork belly, cut into 2 cm pieces
8 confit duck legs
2 Italian sausages (such as cotechino)
1 litre veal jus
1 celery stalk, finely diced
2 large carrots, finely diced
1 brown onion, finely diced
500 ml dry red wine
2 tbsp good quality orange marmalade
1 bouquet garnii
1 day old white loaf or baguette
1 tbsp thyme leaves, finely chopped
2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, bruised
50 g butter
30 ml olive oil
For the Veal Jus
3 kg veal bones
30 ml olive oil
1 leek, white section only, sliced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
5 litres water
To make the veal jus
You will need to make this the day before.
Preheat oven to 180C. Place veal bones on a baking tray and roast until well coloured (about 1 hour).
Heat butter and olive oil in a stock pot on low-medium heat. Add leek, celery, carrots, and thyme. Allow to sweat for 5-7 minutes allowing onions to cook. Turn heat up to medium high. Add veal bones, bay leaves, pepper and water to the pot. Bring to boil then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 3 hours. Strain, reserving stock and discarding solids. Return stock to a clean pot and continue to simmer until stock is reduced to 1 litre.
To make the Cassoulet
Soak beans in plenty of cold water overnight. The following morning, drain water from beans. Place beans into a large pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer beans for 45 minutes. Drain and set aside until required. Cut sausages into 2 cm pieces. ‘Peel’ duck meat off the bones and shred finely.
Heat oil and butter in a heavy based saucepan. Saute onions, carrots, celery and thyme until vegetables are soft and lightly browned. Add red wine and simmer until volume is reduced to half. Set vegetables and wine aside. In the same pot, fry pork belly and sausages in their own fat until nicely caramelised. Add the beans and jus. Season to taste. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer. Now add in the duck, marmalade and bouquet garnii. Simmer covered for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
Half an hour before finishing, heat oven to 160C.
Remove crust from bread, and using a food processor, pulse to make rough breadcrumbs.
Heat butter and oil in a pan. Add garlic and toss through oil and butter for a minute or so without allowing it to colour. Remove and discard garlic. Add breadcrumbs to pan and continually stir until golden brown.Remove from heat and stir through herbs. Season to taste. Spoon mixture on top cassoulet and place uncovered in oven.
Cook for about 15 minutes or until crumbs are golden brown.
Serve with baguette to mop up the juices and a good red wine. Enjoy!
By the way, after researching several recipes, I decided on this one by Matt Moran. Firstly, it’s from one of my favourite cookbooks, and secondly, ingredients readily available locally. The only real difference aside from chef preferences of meat cuts is that most other recipes use tomatoes – either tomato paste or chopped tomatoes. This one doesn’t.