Classic Cassoulet Recipe Made Easy
Slow-cooked Cassoulet is a classic recipe from the Languedoc-Roussillon (now the administrative region of Occitanie, France). Some cooks shy away from making this cannellini bean and meat (pork, duck) casserole because it takes a bit of time. Save time and effort by sourcing the duck confit from your local butcher or in a tin, along with the pork belly and rind. See notes below.
In France, the traditional cassoulet dish is an earthenware «cassole» or use a heavy-duty Dutch oven.
This recipe comes from “Tour de Table en Languedoc-Roussillon” as suggested by John and Nicole Bojanowski, owners of Le Clos du Gravillas in Languedoc-Roussillon. Thanks to their recommendation I overcame my skepticism and made this recipe without garlic – the result was delicious.
- 14 oz Dried Cannellini Beans
- 1 lb Pork Belly with the rind in one piece *
- 1 large Carrot peeled and sliced
- 1 medium Onion peeled and coarsely chopped
- 4 Fresh Pork Sausages
- Homemade Unsalted Chicken stock **
- Bouquet Garnis of thyme and bay leaves
- 4 Confit of Duck Legs
- Rendered Duck Fat
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- fresh bread crumbs
- The day before serving, place dried beans in a bowl and cover with three inches of cool water.
- Cover the bowl and soak the beans overnight.
- Next day, trim the rind – couenne, en français – off the pork belly in one or two pieces. If your pork belly was already trimmed, ask the butcher for an additional rind – about 2 inches by 9 inches. **
- Cut trimmed pork belly into 2-inch chunks and set aside.
- Drain the beans and place them in a large soup pot and cover with cold water.
- Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes, skimming the foam as it surfaces. Drain.
- Wipe out the soup pot, return the drained beans, and cover with chicken stock. If you don’t have enough stock to cover, use water to make up the difference.
- Add the bouquet garni and bring to a boil.
- Add the carrot, onion, and pork rind. Simmer for 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon duck fat in a large skillet.
- Brown the sausages on all sides. Set aside.
- Using the same fat, brown the pork belly pieces. Set aside.
- After the beans have been simmering for an hour, season with salt and pepper.
- Cut the browned sausages into 3-inch lengths and add to the pot along with the browned pork belly and the confit of duck legs.
- Add two generous tablespoons of duck fat. Add more stock as needed to keep it from getting too dry.
- Cook uncovered one hour longer.
- Preheat oven to 275°F. Transfer the mixture to a «cassole» or a Dutch oven, sprinkle generously with breadcrumbs, and bake uncovered for 90 minutes.
- Serve hot at the table.
- You definitely need well-made sausages. Don't use standard store-bought ones - they contain too much gristle. Find a butcher near you who makes them and get the simplest available.
- I used pork belly, but many recipes called for pork shoulder, too. I might use a bit of both next time.
- Some recipes had no duck at all. I liked the confit - it added to the texture and flavor.
- Per Nicole's recommendation, do not skimp on the duck fat - it sounds like it will make it heavier but it doesn't. This is one area where I wasn't skeptical!