Cassoulet Is Never Quick

By on Friday, October 29th, 2021 at 7:21 pm

A cassoulet using Rancho Gordo beans and d'artangan duck sausage

Subscribing to the Rancho Gordo bean club can sometimes feel oppressive when you are sitting on a stockpile of beans and know another box just around the corner. I knew we needed to use up some of the beans we’d been accumulating so I pulled out the box of white beans to assess what we had. Sure enough, a full bag of cassoulet beans ready and waiting.

What I love about this dish is that it’s basically impossible to screw up. Sure, you can try to rush a cassoulet and that isn’t going to help it much. You need time in the oven to crisp the top. But as long as you can braise it for four or five hours, it pretty much cooks itself.

At this point I don’t even bother looking at cassoulet recipes. Maybe I should have. I made a few mistakes on this, but it sure turned out fine just the same.

First I had to boil off the beans. We had some old rosemary in the back of the refrigerator — just enough to toss a sprig in. What I forgot to do was boil the carrot and the celery with the beans, but honestly with five hours for braising, it was fine to add them later.

When the beans were cooked, I started cooking the pork belly. I wanted a little brown on the meat and render some of that fat for frying everything else. I also cut up a few strips of bacon. before adding in some duck sausages from D’Artagnan. I used these instead of the more traditionally duck confit for two reasons.

First, The Meat Hook didn’t have any in stock. I’m not even sure if they still stock duck confit. The last time I had to go all the way to Dicksons Farmstand in Chelsea Market.

The second reason is duck confit is really heavy. The duck fat is great and I love using it for roasted potatoes to go along with the cassoulet, but there isn’t anything light about it. The sausages were a perfect substitute, especially since there should be sausages in the dish anyway.

Once I browned off the meat, I chopped an onion, garlic, celery, and carrot browning in the rendered fat. I added in the beans. I wasn’t too worried about layering properly because I was only using a pound of beans with a wide brimmed pot. Having extra surface area really helps develop that great cassoulet crust. I topped off with a cup of chicken broth. Twenty minutes in I realized I forgot to add the can of tomatoes.

The pot when in the oven. After half an hour I took off the lid to allow the browning to start. About four hours later she was ready to come out with a nice crusty top. The single pound of beans and swapping out duck sausage was a great choice for two people. We had a filling dinner and lunch the next day with a little left over for the weekend.


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