Friday, January 14, 2011

Jan Daring Cooks' 2011 Cassoulet


WOW this month's challenge is a French classic called cassoulet a delicious stew/casserole made with various confit (meat or fowl poached in fat) and beans, this is a marvellous recipe, one that can include all sorts of meats (even cured ones) and beans. Also the recipe can be made over a number days so making it an easy exercise. It can be an expensive recipe but you can make it much cheaper (but just as tasty) if you use butter or oil (instead of duck fat) to confit chicken legs (instead of duck legs) and breakfast sausages (instead of expensive sausages). I noticed that most of the forum members raved about this recipe and it fully deserves the praise it is so so good it is rich in flavour and because of the confit and the method to cook the final dish the beans became extra tasty and in my opinion they become the star of the dish (I noticed from the comments in the forums that many bean haters loved the beans in this dish!). So if you are a bean lover add lots more to the dish and enjoy!

Some notes about cassoulet
Cassoulet is a rich, slow cooked stew or casserole that originated in the south of France during the 14th century. It traditionally contains pork, sausages, and white beans as well as a duck or goose confit and then topped with fried bread crumbs or cracklings. The dish is named after its traditional cooking vessel, the cassole, which is a deep, round earthenware pot with slanted sides. This is a dish that traditionally takes about three days to prepare, but is oh so worth all the effort!! A confit, in case you don’t know, is one of the oldest ways to preserve food. It is essentially any kind of food that has been immersed in any kind of fat for both flavour and preservation. When stored in a cool place, confit can last for several months! Typical meats (most often waterfowl) are preserved in fats, while fruits are preserved in sugar.

See here it is the official website for French cassoulet recipes.

See here for a printable PDF for the challenge recipes.

Recipe Sources:
Cassoulet by Anthony Bourdain and Michael Ruhlman as featured on the Travel Channel’s “No Reservations”
Vegetarian Cassoulet by Gourmet Magazine, March 2008
Thirty Minute Cassoulet by Jacques Pepin’s Fast Food My Way, KQED
Chicken Confit (Using Olive Oil) by Emeril Lagasse, via Food Network
Garlic Confit from Saveur, Issue #129
Leek Confit by Molly Wizenberg, as seen in Bon Appetit

Blog Checking Lines: Our January 2011 Challenge comes from Jenni of The Gingered Whisk and Lisa from Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. They have challenged the Daring Cooks to learn how to make a confit and use it within the traditional French dish of Cassoulet. They have chosen a traditional recipe from Anthony Bourdain and Michael Ruhlman.

Hot spicy five bean cassoulet

Since it is so hot here in Sydney I thought I would spice up the challenge recipe a little so I used some very spicy smoke-cured hot Italian sausage and speck (a type of hot spicy prosciutto)which rendered out wonderful flavour into the dish.

What an amazing, tasty and delicious recipe this is it is the BEST tasting 'stew' that I have ever had. I decided to use smoke-cured hot spicy Italian sausage with some speck (a type of prosciutto) along with chicken legs and spare beef ribs I used butter to confit these at 60°C/140°F (the lowest temperature to safely confit meat and fowl) for 18 hours. The cured sausage and speck rendered hot spicy yumminess into the other meats that is the confit had a lovely bite to it. In the poaching challenge last month I learnt how to butter confit spare ribs so I repeated the process adding a lot of other cooked and uncooked meats.

I had some good luck in the local opportunity shop and picked up a vintage French casserole dish for only $4 so I served the cassoulet in that for four people.

I had even better luck at the butcher's everything was on special the shop was being renovated so all the stock had to be cleared I got 7 kgs of various meat for only $14!

I used five types of beans:- chickpeas, puy lentils, Lima, Northern white beans and red kidney beans I cooked these in a home made roast beef-bone stock yum yum. The beans where superb even before I put them with the confit meat.

The vintage $4 casserole

The butter confit of beef spare ribs, chicken legs, hot spicy smoked-cured Italian sausage and speck

Just 1/2 of the confit meat I made about 7 kilos at once and froze the rest

The cassoulet in the vintage serving casserole

The plated cassoulet

It is really hard to know what is the best part of this recipe - the spare beef ribs were tender and juicy the bite-sized hot spicy sausage and speck were a great contrast against the milder chicken, the beans were so so meaty tasting but with their own flavour when bitten into. I was extremely pleased with the result I froze about 7 1/2 litres of left overs enough for about 30 servings.

The total cost was
beef spare ribs 3kg/$5
Italian sausage and speck 2kg/$6
chicken legs 2kg/$3
new dried beans 2kg/$3 (makes about 16 cups of cooked beans)
beef bones for the stock 3kg/$2 (makes about 3 litres of thick gelatinous bone stock)
butter for the confit 2kg/$5 (reusable)
bits and pieces $2
Total $26 for 34 servings even more if served with potatoes or rice
that is $0.76 per serving, an extremely cheap dish if using chicken, beef spare ribs and sausage and using butter for the confit.

Meatloaf Cassoulet
I even made meatloaf from some of the leftovers (add fresh breadcrumbs and herbs and one egg per three cups of leftover cassoulet bake at 180°C/350°F until firm about an hour) WOW it is so so tasty, notice how you can see the individual beans and pieces of various meats. This is best served hot or warm (heat in a microwave for a minute or two), slice a thick piece of meatloaf and serve with home made bread.

This is the best meatloaf you will ever taste it is meaty, tasty and the beans are superb.


Ruth H. said...

What a clever idea, cassoulet meatloaf! Even as a vegetarion, that looks really awesome! Thank you for sharing your creativity with us, and for your help throughout the whole process!

Jenni said...

Fantastic job Audax!! Your cassoulet looks magnificent, and I love your take on the dish. I'm jealous of your vintage cassole, how cool is that?! Such rave reviews from you is like getting a gold star in my book! :) I'm so glad you enjoyed this month's challenge!

Barbara Bakes said...

I should have thought to do a spicy version of the cassoulet. My family probably would have liked that - great idea! It looks delicious!

chef_d said...

Wow what a great bargain for the vintage casserole! Love your version of cassoulet...and what a great idea the meatloaf is for leftovers! Great job Audax!

veggietestkitchen said...

Oh, your five bean looks fantastic. The meatloaf is so interesting as well. You're always really good at these challenges, and I love checking out your dishes every month. I know you're in Sydney, but hope you're taking care and staying safe with the weather being as crazy as it is all over the world this year. Cheers.

Jenn said...

I love how creative you are Audax. The spicy 5-beans sounds like a great variation!

Please Do Not Feed The Animals. said...

I love the spicy variation too.
And the meatloaf is genius!
Well done Audax.

Fabi said...

You rock, Audax. I love each and every performance of your on this challenge, and I love your vintage casserole, it's so cool! Cheers from Fabi in Madrid-Spain.

Lisa said...

I'm so glad you made it back safe to take part in our challenge. Your cassoulet rocks, from the mixed beans and lentils, to the variety of meats (love the addition of beef ribs), to that awesome cassoulet pot (talk about perfect timing!). Also, thank so much for dotting the i's and crossing the t's to make it easier for us, my friend. *hugs*

Zodelicious said...

Yay for Vinnies! I have way too much op-shop kitchen stuff, its an addiction.
I love that you still went all out with this challenge, even in the middle of summer. And the meatloaf is a brilliant idea. Bravo!

Melanie said...

I love the meatloaf idea, but I didn't have any leftovers! I've got my eye on that vintage casserole dish too!

So Very Domestic said...

As usual, your take on this month's challenge is amazing!! I love it. I am also very jealous of your dish. VERY. <3 Great job!!

Unknown said...

Spicy cassoulet sounds like a great idea! I love spicy food so this idea has been filed away :) Love love love that you made a meatloaf with the left overs!

blepharisma said...

Fun stuff! Love the casserole dish - can't believe you got it for $4! This is a great dish for people wanting to add legumes to their diet -- I'm always looking for new fun things to do with legumes.

barb said...

This looks amazing! I did find the materials expensive (though I'm thinking the amount of servings will make that worthwhile), using duck and duck fat, but am going to try some of your alternatives next time. Granted, my family now likes duck so much as a result of this I think we will raise some of our own next summer!

Cheers from Canada.

Monkeyshines in the Kitchen said...

Cassoulet meatloaf - only you could come up with that one. I bet that was the best meatloaf ever. Great job on the challenge - your take on cassoulet looks terrific!

Renata said...

I'm amazed that you even put the cost of the dish, and even more amazed that it was so cheap!! As always you did a wonderful job and was so supportive at the forums. It is so visible that you enjoy cooking so much, and sharing all your experience with all of us. Great job Audax!

Denise said...

You are truly incredible in your creativity! A little spice would have been nice in ours, but the garlic sausages were fantastic. Thank you for your priceless input along the way and I look forward to another year cooking with you!

TaGa_Luto said...

Audax!!! It's me..Pia=;) I'm back!!! Love your approach as usual. I love your casserole what a bargain. I did mine on the spicy side as well i ued a mixture of polish and spicy italian sausage. Hmm...that meatloaf is a clever idea.
I'm posting mine a bit late..

Creating Nirvana said...

Cool vintage store find and an awsome butcher deal to boot! You did great on this challenge.

Evelyne CulturEatz said...

Wow look who also got a great new 'vintage' dish, love it. And great job on the cassoulet. The spicy sausage and speck are a great choice. I totally agree this is he best stew ever.

Gillian said...

The meat loaf idea looks great though I really did not have enough left over, maybe next time I will make more.

twistedkitchen said...

I love the idea of the meatloaf! Great job!

Lya de Putti said...

Oh WOW - I wish I'd thought of doing meatloaf with the leftovers. Your cassoulet looks totally scrumptious and I love the cooking pot you found - perfect.

Suz said...

I love that you used five types of bean & added a touch of spiciness to the dish with the spicy sausage. Yum! That meatloaf looks so, so good as well. What a great way of using up leftovers.

Anonymous said...

That's so lucky that you came across the bargain vintage casserole! I love your meatloaf, it looks delicious!

Mary said...

I was trying to figure out your third picture all the way through your post. I though pate, but what a great idea to make the leftovers into meatloaf. I love meatloaf! I am going to have to confit some meat before the winter is over, as I feel I missed out a bit this month. Yours looks fantastic, and you've got the leftovers to keep you going for a while.

Sarah said...

MEATLOAF CASSOULET!! OMG! This may trump your past creativity. Thank you.

Cookinva said...

Wow, Audax! You even managed to turn cassoulet into one amazingly creative dish! Love the spicy sausage idea and all the beans. Idea of making it into a meatloaf left me speechless. What an amazing take on the challenge!

Oggi said...

I have to try the meatloaf; it looks and sounds wonderful and delicious. Love the vintage casserole.:)

Mafalda Cardoso said...

The cassoulet is beautiful and I simply loved the idea of making a meatloaf with the left overs! Wow! It's just super!
Thank you for your visit on my blog!
Mafalda (Brilhante glacear) from Portugal

Brandon said...

Little doubt, the dude is completely just.
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