Recipe for Cassoulet from Southern France
Cassoulet is a hearty, slow-cooked casserole from the South of France. A classic dish from the Languedoc region (adjacent to Provence) a round earthenware pot with slanted sides called a “cassole” contains a blend of various ingredients, but typically white beans and slow-cooked meats (chicken, sausage, confit duck, mutton). The city of Castelnaudary claims to be where the recipe originated, however, as many of these dishes with humble beginnings there are probably thousands of variations.
This “faux” cassoulet recipe appeared in the February 2016 issue of Bon Appétit magazine. I have prepared it several times to rave reviews from family and friends. Like a traditional cassoulet, it is a meal-in-a-dish and requires only a side salad, a robust red wine and perhaps a fruit dessert to complete the meal. It is perfect for cold winter evenings. Although the recipe is time-consuming you can spread the prep over a couple of days and the results are well worth the time and effort. I usually tweak magazine recipes but this one is spot-on just as it is.
Cassoulet Confit of Chicken Thigh and Andouille Sausage
For the Confit Chicken:
- 1 ½ pounds Chicken Thighs skin-on bone-in
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 head of garlic cut crosswise
- 2 large Shallots halved
- 4 sprigs Thyme
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 4 Juniper Berries
- 1 cup olive oil
For the Cassoulet:
- 1 large Onion chopped
- 4 Garlic Cloves chopped
- ½ of 14.5-oz can Whole Peeled Tomatoes
- 4 cup (1½ dried) Cooked Large White Beans such as Tarbais
- 1 cup Cooking liquid from the beans
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper freshly ground pepper
- 2 large Andouille or other smoked sausages
- 1 thick slice Sourdough Bread
- Preheat oven to 225°F.
- Season chicken with salt and pepper and place in a small Dutch oven or other heavy pot.
- Arrange garlic, shallots, thyme, bay leaves, and juniper berries around chicken; drizzle oil over.
- Bring to a very low simmer over medium-low heat, cover, and transfer to oven.
- Cook until meat is very tender, 2–2½ hours.
- Let cool in oil (preferably overnight).
- Cover and chill.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Heat ⅓ cup oil from chicken confit in a large skillet over medium.
- Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft, 10–12 minutes.
- Squeeze garlic cloves from chicken confit from their skins into skillet and add tomatoes, crushing with your hands.
- Bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is evaporated, about 5 minutes.
- Add beans and their cooking liquid.
- Skim off remaining fat from chicken confit and pour juices (about ½ cup) into skillet (reheat fat in pot just enough to loosen juices underneath if needed).
- Bring to a simmer; season with salt and pepper.
- Transfer bean mixture to a 2–2½-qt. baking dish.
- Nestle chicken into beans, leaving as much skin exposed as possible, then tuck sausage and shallots from confit chicken around.
- Cook until chicken skin is very crisp and cassoulet is nicely browned, about 2 hours.
- Pulse bread in a blender or food processor to medium-fine crumbs.
- Toss crumbs in a small bowl with 1 Tbsp. oil from confit chicken (use remaining oil for sautéeing vegetables); season lightly with salt.
- Top cassoulet with breadcrumbs and cook until they are golden brown, 20–25 minutes.