The Ultimate Comfort Meal: Cassoulet

As winter bares its worst, there is perhaps no better dish to enjoy than cassoulet.  The rich, meaty casserole originated in the Gascony region of France and dates back to the 12th century.

Like Texas chili and Louisiana jambalaya, cassoulet recipes vary widely from city-to-city and house-to-house in France. It is meant to be enjoyed with friends or family with little more than fresh, crusty bread and wine. (We pair it with our spectacular Anderson Valley Pinot Noir.)

Our favorite quote about this dish comes from the woman who brought French cooking into American kitchens, Julia Child:

“Cassoulet, that best of bean feasts, is everyday fare for a peasant but ambrosia for a gastronome, though its ideal consumer is a 300-pound blocking back who has been splitting firewood nonstop for the last twelve hours on a subzero day in Manitoba.”

Bon appetit!

French cooking doesn’t have to be hard. This easy-to-make recipe is a hearty crowd-pleasing plate of amazing. (And the leftovers reheat terrifically!)

Duck, Sausage and Wild Boar Cassoulet

Author: 
Serves: 8 to 10

Ingredients

  • 3 cups white beans, soaked in 3 qts. water overnight
  • 1 carrot, diced, reserve peel & trimmings
  • 3 stalks celery, diced, reserve ends
  • 1 onion, diced, reserve ends
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 sprigs thyme, 2 whole & 6 sprigs picked & chopped
  • 1 lb. pork sausage links
  • 6 slices bacon, chopped
  • 2 lbs. wild boar shoulder, diced (pork shoulder may be substituted)
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced thin
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • ½ cup red wine, such as Pinot Noir
  • 2 duck confit legs, skin & bones removed, meat shredded
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. duck fat, melted
  • 1 cup bread crumbs

Instructions

  1. Drain beans and place in a pot with the carrot, celery and onion trimmings.  Add bay leaf and 2 sprigs thyme.  Cover with water and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a low simmer and cook for 40 minutes.  Add sausages and poach for 20 minutes.  Remove sausages, allow to cool and cut into rounds.  Drain beans and reserve.  Discard carrot, celery and onion trimmings.
  2. Preheat oven to 375⁰F.
  3. In a heavy bottomed pot, add bacon and cook over medium heat  for 3 minutes to render fat.  Add wild boar meat and brown for approximately 3 minutes.  Add diced carrots, celery, onion and garlic and cook for 3 minutes.  Add tomato paste and chopped thyme and cook for 1 minute.  Add the wine to deglaze the pan and cook for 1 minute.  Add the shredded duck confit, chicken stock, reserved beans, reserved sausage and 1 tablespoon parsley.  Season with salt & pepper.  Bring to a boil and cover.  Place in the oven for 20 minutes.  Uncover pot and cook for an additional 10 minutes.
  4. In a small bowl, combine duck fat, bread crumbs and remaining tablespoon of parsley.  Spread mixture evenly over the cassoulet and cook until golden brown, approximately 3 minutes.

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