Recipe by USA WEEKEND columnist Pam Anderson
"One big centerpiece dish that is perfect for a fall or winter buffet is cassoulet, a hearty French stew of beans, lamb or pork, sausages and roast duck breast (rather than the traditional labor-intensive duck confit). You can even substitute boneless chicken thighs or pre-roasted duck (check Asian markets or restaurants and food warehouses, and remove the skin and bones). All the meats are in bite-sized chunks--ideal when you're balancing a plate on your lap. On the side, all this substantial dish needs is a green salad and bread.
While classic cassoulet is an investment of two to three days of labor, my version offers wonderful variety without the extreme time commitment. The recipe may look long, but I've made it--from start to finish, and in double this quantity--the very afternoon "
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boneless lamb shoulder roast, cut into 11/2-inch cubes (or a combination of lamb and boneless pork shoulder roast)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
mild Italian sausages
water for sausages
kielbasa, cut into 6 pieces
1 1/2 pounds
boneless duck breast halves
1 (14.5 ounce) can
full-bodied dry red wine
reserved duck fat
onions, cut into medium dice
garlic cloves, minced
thinly sliced prosciutto, minced
1 (14.5 ounce) can
6 (16 ounce) cans
white beans, drained
fresh bread crumbs (process sliced bread in a food processor or blender)
minced fresh parsley
Cassoulet is a labor of love but this at least drastically cuts down on the labor. I had to make a few changes due to neccessatity: use pork shoulder instead of lamb because it is hard to find here, and used chicken thighs with skin-on for the duck. If brine the chicken thighs prior to cooking them, they develop a flavor similar to duck confit. And I have found the flavor is best if you let everything sit overnight and do the last baking the next day. Is this the same as cassuolet a French restaurant? No, but it is doable at home and captures all the great flavors without slaving for 3+ days.
This is a very good, solid recipe for a modern style cassoulet, and perfect for cold weather, and with the amount it makes, for having friends and family over as well. I omit proscuitto because I just don't believe it's necessary if you have good quality sausages, plus I don't like to take away from the succulent texture and flavour the duck fat gives the casserole by crossing cutting it with this type of ham but each to their own tastes. I also occasionally add rosemary and a bay leaf, but not always, and thyme does just as well alone.
I don't know why this one is titled simplified cassoulet as it is very close in ingredients to the traditional which is a long list, although the timing is much less. Yet it is all well worth the effort involved. I think it is also a very enjoyable dish to make, layering your ingredients and simmering it to perfection, savouring the wonderful scent it makes as it cooks.
Although I did not use duck, but boneless chicken breast, this receipe was superb. I did prepare it one afternoon, then let it set in the refrigerator for a day and a half and cooked it. It was wonderful, and the flavor was so European. I did save the leftovers and served them with some pasta a few days later. A lot of work, but the taste was well worth it.
Never having made cassoulet (simplified or not) before, I was pleased with the clear directions and methodical steps required to produce this. I followed the recipe almost exactly and adapted a few hints by the reviewers. What I found that worked was to put the whole thing together the night before and then let it sit. Complete the last baking step right before serving. I used a pork roast instead of lamb, chicken instead of duck, and omitted the proscuitto. My rural grocery stores don't have exotic ingredients like these too often. The pork was well-received but the chicken seemed a little too dry. I am personally a vegetarian, cooking for carnivores, so next time we will omit maybe the Italian sausages and add zucchini and squash just to even things out a bit. The meat gives the vegetables an excellent flavor. Delicious, delicious, delicious!
Delicious. I used pork shoulder, turkey thighs, lamb merguez sausage and turkey keilbasa; skipped the prosciutto. Added some celery and carrot, used fresh thyme, a 28oz can diced tomatoes and 3 - 19 oz cans navy beans. Served with fennel, apple and mixed greens salad. Guests asked for some to take home!
I loved this - used chicken (it was what I had on hand) amazingly easy. Thanks!
I used lamb and almost ruined it by not sealing the pot completely when braising it at 450 degrees. Despite not having the whole portion of lamb, once I'd burned it, the cassoulet turned out quite good.
The portions are huge. A half recipe was several meals for my husband and me, even having seconds. Next time I will braise the lamb at a lower temperature so as not to burn it.
This is an excellent easy Cassoulet. Rather than spend the time prepping the duck breasts, I just bougt a jar of cofit d' canard at the local shop. One of the benefits of living in the duck capitol of the world (swear that what the sign up the road says) is that even the mini-marches have lovely duck products in tins and jars
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.
Serving Size: 1/15 of a recipe
Servings Per Recipe: 15
Amount Per Serving
** Calories: 572
** Calories from Fat: 214
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