Sounds yumI'm an adventurous cook, and a few decades ago I discovered the cassoulet. It's close to what we'd think of as a casserole, in that it's usually made in a single pot, and uses ingredients "commonly" found around the kitchen. Unfortunately for us, ingredients commonly found in French farm houses are often difficult to get here...
Still, the basic idea is white beans, one or more kinds of meat (with sausage being one of them), and a crust on the top made with bread crumbs.
I'm in my 50s, and trying to not pack on the pounds, so I try to cook high-protein dishes - and cassoulet fits the bill!
There are actual French schools dedicated to teaching people how to make a good cassoulet; it's almost considered
a national dish, which is funny (to me), as Americans aren't familiar with it. An authentic one can take all day long, but there's no need to go nuts.
I've been making this one for a few years now. It comes from Bon Appetit, but I've tweaked it and scaled the thing down to "normal size". This will feed 4 people easily.
It does use chorizo, which can be a little spicy. I highly recommend making it at least once, even if you substitute some other kind of sausage. Don't omit the anchovies, because there's so few of them that they simply add complexity to the dish; you'd never know they were in there if you'd never seen the recipe:
This is a rich and satisfying recipe, screaming out for a cold crunchy salad and a nice glass of red wine. It has flavors that aren't immediately identifiable but are deliciously savory nonetheless.
I was looking for recipes that use chorizo, because I love the stuff, but needed something good to use it in. However, I have issues with big beans (gigante, cannellini, kidney, etc); they remind me of grubs, or something no one should ever consider putting in their mouths. So, the first thing I did when I found this recipe was substitute small navy beans for the gigante beans. The second thing was to cut it in half; 3 cups of dried beans (in the original recipe) makes a hell of a lot of food.
The recipe here represents the halved amount, and is now a favorite of mine. It's been rewritten from the original, including changes from the previous two times I've made this...
Origin: Bon Appetit Prep Time: About 3 hours Servings: 4 large Equipment: 3.5 quart enameled oven-safe dish with a cover, large pot to boil/soak beans in, large cast iron skillet, slotted spoon
- 1 1/2 cup(s) great northern beans - dry
- 2 TBS olive oil - extra virgin
- 2 link(s) chorizo - Gaspar's, about 1 pound total, cut into 1/4" half rounds
- 1 whole leek(s) - white and light green parts only, cut into 1/4" rounds
- 1/2 whole onion(s) - finely chopped
- kosher salt to taste
- black pepper to taste
- 3 clove(s) garlic - thinly sliced
- 2 fillet(s) anchovies - packed in oil, drained, chopped
- 1/2 TBS tomato paste
- 1/2 TBS paprika - smoked
- 1 1/2 cup(s) ls chicken stock
- 14 oz canned tomatoes - half of a 28oz can of whole tomatoes, with juice, crushed by hand
- 4 sprig(s) fresh thyme - leaves stripped
- 1 leaves bay
- 1 sprig(s) fresh rosemary - stripped, chopped
- 3 TBS olive oil - extra-virgin, plus a little to drizzle on top
- 2 cup(s) bread crumbs - fresh, crumbled/chopped from about 4 slices of bread. More is better than less...
- salt to taste
- black pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup(s) fresh parsley - flat leaf, chopped
- 1 tsp lemon zest - finely grated
Place beans in a large pot and cover with water by 3 inches. Bring to a boil; boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for 1 hour.
Drain beans. Add fresh water to cover by 3 inches. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, until beans are just tender but not mushy, 30 minutes (time will vary depending on size and age of beans). The texture of the beans at this point SHOULD will roughly match their texture at the end of the recipe; cook them a little longer if they've got too much bite for your taste. When done, drain, reserving 1/2 cup bean broth.
Preheat oven to 450°. Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a 3.5qt Le Cruset over medium heat. Add chorizo and cook, turning occasionally, until golden all over, 7–8 minutes. Do this in two steps if the chorizo steams rather than fries. Using a slotted spoon, transfer chorizo to a plate and set aside.
Place 1 Tbsp. oil, leek, and onion in same pot used for the chorizo. Add salt and pepper if necessary. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened and light golden, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and anchovies; stir 1 minute to break down anchovies. Add tomato paste and paprika; stir constantly until paste is caramelized, about 2 minutes. Add reserved 1/2 cup bean broth, beans, chorizo (and any accumulated juice), chicken broth, tomatoes, thyme, bay and rosemary; stir gently to combine. Bring to a boil.
Cover and bake for 15 minutes. Partially move the cover to one side, and bake for another 15 minutes until beans are very tender.
Meanwhile, heat 3 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet. Add breadcrumbs and cook, stirring often, until golden and crisp, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Sprinkle breadcrumbs over beans and drizzle with extra olive oil. Bake cassoulet until breadcrumbs are browned and liquid is bubbling, about 15 minutes. Let sit for 15 minutes. Sprinkle parsley and lemon zest over just before serving.