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QUICK PORK AND BEAN CASSOULET

February 29, 2012 10:16 pm 0 comments

Cassoulet is one of the most popular dishes from the South West France. This dish is also referred to as ‘Bean pot stew’ or ‘white bean stew’ or ‘meat and bean casserole’. It is an amazing one pot meal, very nourishing, healthy and appetizing.

There are many variants of cassoulet recipes and traditional cooking of cassoulet takes hours together. There are three popular variations of cassoulet recipe. One, made with pork meat, second made with partridge and lastly a recipe made with lamb and sausages together. A classic cassoulet is good for heat and relatively light, hence is considered a complete meal. The dish is named after its traditional cooking vessel, the cassle, a deep, round earthenware pot with slanting sides.

Cassoulet is generally cooked with meat (typically pork, sausages, goose, duck and sometimes mutton) and white bean.  A traditional classic cassoulet has a long process of cooking with several days of preparation just to make the various meats served in a very rustic bean casserole. This recipe is a quick pork and bean cassoulet recipe but would take at least an hour to cook. The meats and white bean is exceptionally cooked sprinkled over with buttery breadcrumbs which forms an amazing crusty, golden brown caramelized layer and are pushed down into the bubbling mixture to give dense and nice texture to the dish. This is done several times, creating the dish’s signature texture.

This quick recipe is creamy, aromatic, flavorful, not too wet or dry; the bean mixture is smooth and intense while the chunks of meat are soft and succulent. The mix of chunks of meat and bean provide a rich thickness while the crispy topping of bread crumbs stirred with parmesan cheese is a flavorful finish to the dish. To make this dish the star of the table meal, start with a baked brie and offer ginger bread palmiers as dessert.

For preparing this excellent combo meal quick pork and bean cassoulet, firstly add in 4 oz of thickly sliced bacon and fry them well till it turns to a nice brown in color. Transfer the fried bacon pieces into a bowl and then add in 8 oz spicy, garlicky smoked porked sliced sausages and fry for about 3 to 4 minutes and then add 12 oz boneless skinless chicken thighs cubed (here traditionally duck meat is added, which is cooked for longer time) and stir fry well for about 5 minutes. Transfer all the chunks of meat in the bowl.

In the same pan, throw in some nicely chopped onions (1big size), salt and fry on medium low heat until onions turn translucent and add in 1cup chicken stock which would actually give a flavorful soupy texture and add in 2 cans boiled white beans (mash 25% of the white beans to give a thick texture and consistency). Add cayenne and pepper and mix well. Finally add in your favorite aromatic herbs like rosemary and thyme (1 ½ tsp each) for enhancing the flavors.

Add in all the meat in the pan and remaining 1 cup of chicken stock and mix well. Simmering the heat, allow cooking for another 5 minutes. In a small bowl, add in 4 tablespoons melted butter, 1 cup plain breadcrumbs and ½ cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese mix well together. Divide this into two portions and sprinkle one portion of the buttery bread crumbs mixture over the meat gravy and broil in the oven till the top layer become golden brown and crusty. When done, remove and with a spoon poke the crusty buttery breadcrumbs down and mix well. Again sprinkle the second half of the remaining butter crumbs and broil again till the top layer turns caramelized, crusty and golden brown. Switch off the oven and allow the cassoulet to rest until cooled down for about 15 minutes.

This recipe makes an extremely delicious and flavorful dish for a cold evening and is generally paired with red wine. You can also serve with crusty French bread. Cassoulet is quite similar to a traditional casserole dish. Do try and enjoy the taste.

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