Monday, February 20, 2023


As I was poking around this blog, looking for stew recipes, I realized that over the years I had written not one, but four different recipes for cassoulet. Go look at other popular blogs and tell me how many cassoulet recipes they include--I'll wait here.

Ok, back? I think you probably found a lot of variations of what we think of as a classic cassoulet, a combination of duck, fatty pork, and beans. Food writer J. Kenji Lopez-Alt referred to it as Southern French Beanee Weenees. "What?!" you say, aghast. "Cassoulet is some fancy-ass dish that Julia Childs might make! Please don't compare it to all-Amurican hot dogs and beans!" Wrong! For one thing, it's Julia Child. No S. For another, cassoulet is just a casserole of beans and meat--oftentimes sausage, but also other fatty cuts of pork--with whatever other meat that happens to be around. It's a hearty peasant dish that requires a few slow hours of cooking time and is perfect for the dark winter season. 

While the French use white beans, fatty pork, and game birds in their cassoulet, there's absolutely no reason not to make substitutions. Yes, there is a Cassoulet Academy in France that will tell you there are three official variants of the dish, a Holy Trinity of sorts: the original, or father, recipe for cassoulet de Castelnaudary; the cassoulet de Carcassonne, thought of as the son; and the cassoulet de Toulouse, or the Holy Spirit. There are subtle variations between the three, in the types of pork products and other meats used as well as in cooking method (on stovetop or in oven), but they are essentially the same dish much as bourbon, rye, and scotch are all whiskeys. 

I do enjoy a cassoulet made with duck, but chicken thighs are just as tasty and much easier to find. I'm  not picky about beans, either, and am quite content to use canned cannellinis rather than tracking down the traditional tarbais beans. (However, I have purchased tarbais from Rancho Gordo, purveyor of all sorts of delicious bean varieties.) The pork element is also pot luck. I usually use some kind of sausage, even chicken sausage, and have not made a bad cassoulet yet.  

it's totally possible that these Chinese plates have lead in the glaze, which may explain some things

Chinese Cassoulet - duck legs, Chinese sausage, and canned beans make a tasty cassoulet.

Deconstructed Cassoulet is definitely fancy pork and beans with some duck on top.

Jerk Chicken Cassoulet - seems like a stretch, but works really well!

Southwest Cassoulet involves soaking black beans, but you could use canned beans and skip adding them to the chicken mixture until the last 20 minutes of cooking.

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