I know what you’re thinking….a bean cassarole for Valentine’s Day?? Mon dieu, absolutement non!…..but hear me out. A cassoulet is beans, elevated to an art form, really. A seriously luscious, scrumptious, rich, one dish meal, delicioso love letter from France. I made one last Saturday, luckily before illness struck(and thanks to all of you for the nice get well replies…they did make me feel better). My cassoulet, while not the classic version as it did not contain duck, was nonetheless….excellent, and less expensive to make. If you are looking for a truly classic version of cassoulet, try a variation of one by Julia child….that woman could cook, no doubt.
But basically, you’re talking about white beans like Great Northern or Cannellini(you can use canned beans to make things quicker, but the dish is much less expensive if you cook your own dried beans a day ahead)….pork sausages…I used the spicy D’Artangnan Andouille, which cost more but you could also use Kielbasa, and I believe it would be just as good…the classic version calls for duck confit….(I always dream of making it but never have)…I left it out in my version which I adapted from a Williams Sonoma slow cooker version …theirs was adapted from Chef Thomas Keller of the famous French Laundry Restaurant’s version. As you can see, cassoulet is a much adapted dish, and you can create your own version too, as long as you stick to the basics. The recipe also calls for pork shoulder…a tres’ cheap cut of meat, often less than a buck a pound, that is cooked until it’s so tender it can be cut with a fork. And smokey bacon. And garlic. And chicken broth and bread crumbs. Tomatoes. The classic version uses bread crumbs on top for a crust, mine used crisped slices of French Bread, which was delicious. And I made mine all in one day, but as we only ate, maybe, a fourth of it, and since cassoulet tastes better when it is reheated,….it will resurface this weekend. What to serve with it? Not much really, it is a meal in itself, but I’d suggest a simple salad with a sharp vinaigrette, perhaps with orange slices? Anything more would be silly. Tell me if you try a cassoulet, or have done so. I just love cassoulet, and you will too.
Oh, and I had about 8 or 9 Clementine tangerines starting to petrify in a bowl in the living room…While some of them were eaten, the rest now looked like something best avoided…you know what I’m sayin’….I was perilously close to throwing them in the trash or down the disposal, when I thought, maybe the juices inside are still good….so, I juiced them. So sweet…that Clementine juice made two very fine Clementine vodka martinis.