January 26, 2017

A hearty meal for a cold day (traditional French Cassoulet with chicken)


This is a post for you to look at and wish you ate it but never create. I know this because I will probably never make it again. Which kind of makes me sad, because it was delicious and all my taste testers (all 5 of them) agreed. But y'all, this literally took all damned day!   It was worth the effort for sure though!

I was so cold one Saturday and didn't want to leave the house. I really wanted something to entertain me and make me feel warm. Having the oven on all day would accomplish that and cooking something complicated and a wonderful podcast would for sure entertain me! I decided to make cassoulet. But I wanted to make it for realz.  I remembered I had pinned the traditional peasant method from Serious Eats and decided to do it while we had our weekend of winter.

Y'all this is so good. I used duck fat leftover from when I made yummy weeknight duck for my sister's birthday.  The only change I made was in sausage, but that is just because I have no idea what garlic sausage is, so I used green onion, which is a Louisiana staple.  The white beans are so creamy, the flavor is so rich and the meat is so tender, it just all forms a party in your mouth.  Oh and I cooked it 2 hours less than they said because I was hungry.  I can only imagine the crust if it would have had 2 more hours!  

If you have plenty of time on your hands (heck you can binge watch a show while making this even) this is well worth it. I have a little bit left in my freezer that I'm just waiting for another cold snap to break out.  Hopefully I won't have to wait until next January!  Full Recipe to follow the montage.


Doesn't that just look divine?
The cast.  That weird stuff on the left is frozen stock.  My mason jars cracked because I put too much in and I can't throw liquid gold away.  Don't try that at home please!
The soaked beans.  Since I did not plan ahead and pre-soak, I used the quick soak method.  

Even though I used homemade stock, I added the gelatine.  I was glad I did.

There's just something about duck fat.

I could not cube my salt pork but I sliced as best as I could.

Hey ladies!

Get some brown on the chicken.

Look at that brown on the sausage!

Add your onions.  This smelled sooooo good!
Add everything else on in and let it boil for awhile.  
Add all your meat and begin the fun.
After round one in the oven, you can see the crust forming and how much liquid was lost.

I added some liquid to keep the beans covered.

And here is after round two.  I ended up only going one more round and you saw that above.
Traditional French Cassoulet (Borrowed from Serious Eats)

1 pound dried cannellini beans
Kosher salt
1 quart homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock
3 packets (3/4 ounces) unflavored gelatin 
2 tablespoons duck fat (optional) (not to me me!)
8 ounces salt pork, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
6 to 8 pieces of chicken thighs and drumsticks, or 4 whole chicken leg quarters
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound garlic sausage (2 to 4 links depending on size)
1 large onion, finely diced (about 1 cup)
1 carrot, unpeeled, cut into 3-inch sections
2 stalks celery, cut into 3-inch sections
1 whole head garlic
4 sprigs parsley
2 bay leaves
6 cloves

In a large bowl, cover beans with 3 quarts water and add 3 tablespoons salt. Stir to combine and let sit at room temperature overnight. Drain and rinse beans and set aside.  Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and preheat oven to 300°F. Place stock in a large liquid measuring cup and sprinkle gelatin over the top. Set aside. Heat duck fat (if using) in a large Dutch oven over high heat until shimmering. Add salt pork and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned all over, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside. (If not using duck fat, cook pork with no additional fat.  Season chicken pieces with pepper (do not add salt) and place skin side-down in now-empty pan. Cook without moving until well browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Flip chicken pieces and continue cooking until lightly browned on second side, about 3 minutes longer. Transfer to bowl with salt pork.  Add sausages and cook, turning occasionally, until well-browned on both sides. Transfer to bowl with salt pork and chicken. Drain all but 2 tablespoons fat from pot.  Add onions to pot and cook, stirring and scraping up browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Cook until onions are translucent but not browned, about 4 minutes. Add drained beans, carrot, celery, garlic, parsley, bay leaves, cloves, and stock/gelatin mixture. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce to low, cover Dutch oven and cook until beans are almost tender but retain a slight bite, about 45 minutes.  Using tongs, remove carrots, celery, parsley, bay leaves, and cloves and discard. Add meats to pot and stir to incorporate, making sure that the chicken pieces end up on top of the beans with the skin facing upwards. Beans should be almost completely submerged. Transfer to oven and cook, uncovered, until a thin crust forms on top, about 2 hours, adding more water by pouring it carefully down the side of the pot as necessary to keep beans mostly covered.  Break crust with a spoon and shake pot gently to redistribute. Return to oven and continue cooking, stopping to break and shake the crust every 30 minutes until you reach the 4 1/2 hour mark. Return to oven and continue cooking undisturbed until the crust is deep brown and thick, about 5 to 6 hours total. Serve immediately.  But also reheats pretty well.  

Happy Cooking!

Missy







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