Cheat’s French Style Cassoulet – Sausage and Bean Casserole in the Slow Cooker or Le Creuset

Easy French Style Cassoulet

- Cheat’s French Style Cassoulet -

Sausage and Bean Casserole in the Slow Cooker or Le Creuset

The weather continues to be sub-zero and very Siberian-like and my urge for comfort food has increased; visions of casseroles, toast, crumpets, steamed puddings and steaming pots of soup and stew have rather taken over my daily thoughts, so it was time to do something about it. I decided at the last-minute that I really wanted a cassoulet for supper – I had some sausages and pork chops in the fridge and also a large “emergency” tin of haricot blanc beans in the pantry. Obviously a traditional cassoulet cannot be made at the last-minute, it needs at least two days of planning and cogitating, planning when to soak the beans and whether to make the confit d’ canard or use a tinned version of these delicious salted duck legs. However, this was a cold weather hankering that would not wait, and so a cheat’s version was devised for our evening’s supper.

Cheat's French Style Cassoulet - Sausage and Bean Casserole in the Slow Cooker or Le Creuset

Cheat’s French Style Cassoulet – Sausage and Bean Casserole in the Slow Cooker or Le Creuset

This great Cheat’s recipe has all the elements of a traditional French Cassoulet – assorted meats, beans, carrots, tomatoes, wine & tomatoes – but is very easy & does not include Confit d’Canard if you find that difficult to obtain. However, you need to get hold of high quality and high meat content sausages to give it a more authentic taste. I have given a few variations at the bottom of the recipe; this recipe works extremely well in a Slow Cooker (Crock pot) as well as the more traditional Le Creuset casserole dishes. It’s simply French comfort food at it’s best, and an easy version. I like to serve this with mashed potatoes & steamed Savoy Cabbage. This recipe can be easily doubled for bigger or hungry crowds of diners, but it was just the two of us last night and we ate this with cabbage and crusty bread.  NOTE on BEANS: I use tinned cooked beans in this recipe; for uncooked beans, you will need to soak them overnight and then boil them; then increase the cooking time by about 15 minutes. This was posted as a “Cheat’s” recipe, meaning cutting a few corners if you don’t have time – i.e. use tinned beans, and why not. That’s it for today, do give this recipe a go if you are hankering after rib-sticking comfort food, it really does hit the spot on a raw winters day. See you later, Karen.

Easy French Style Cassoulet

Serves 4
Prep time 30 minutes
Cook time 3 hours
Total time 3 hours, 30 minutes
Region French
By author Karen S Burns-Booth
NOTE ON SAUSAGES: Try to use very good quality high meat content sausages; in France Toulouse sausages are mainly used - they generally have a meat content of at least 85%. Good quality English style sausages are also good. However, any kind of sausage can be used and in the past I have used: Choritzo, Italian Style, Chipolatas etc. The Pork chops can be replaced with chicken pieces, lamb steaks or Confit D'Canard - preserved duck, if you are lucky enough to have some.

Ingredients

  • 50g smoked lardons or streaky bacon, chopped into small dice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 450g meaty sausages, preferably pork
  • 4 lean pork chops, cut into large pieces
  • 400g tinned beans, such as cannellini beans, navy beans, mixed beans, white haricot beans or butter beans (drained)
  • 2 onions, peeled & diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled & cut into biggish chunks
  • 400g chopped tomatoes
  • 400ml chicken stock
  • 200ml red wine
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 to 4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely diced
  • 50g breadcrumbs (fresh are best)
  • 1 bouquet garni

Note

NOTE ON SAUSAGES: Try to use good quality high meat content sausages; in France Toulouse sausages are mainly used - they generally have a meat content of at least 85%. Good quality English style sausages are also good. However, any kind of sausage can be used and in the past I have used: Choritzo, Italian Style, Chipolatas etc. The Pork chops can be replaced with chicken pieces, lamb chops or Confit D'Canard - preserved duck, if you are lucky enough to have some.

Directions

Step 1 Heat olive oil in a large frying pan and fry the lardons/bacon until nearly crisp & then add the onions, garlic, & carrots. Cook over a high heat until they are just soft on the outside & turning a golden colour. Drain well & remove from pan. Add to a slow cooker (crock pot) or Le Creuset casserole dish.
Step 2 Add sausages to the frying pan and brown then remove & add to onion mixture in the slow cooker/casserole dish. Then add the pork chop pieces and do the same, removing when browned.
Step 3 Make up the chicken stock and add wine. Add the chopped tomatoes to the stock with a teaspoon of sugar. Pour the stock and tomatoes over the meat and onion mixture in the slow cooker/le creuset, then add the bouquet garni & give everything a good stir. Add the beans and stir well again. Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top and cook for up to 6 hours on high in a slow cooker or in a le creuset casserole dish for 3 hours in a slow oven with the lid on, 150C/300°F.
Step 4 Half an hour before serving, take lid of le creuset to brown the top. It's difficult to brown in a slow cooker, but it's not that essential to brown the top, as the reason behind the breadcrumbs is to soak up some of the juice & make a crust on top. If your slow cooker is the type which you can put under the grill, then do so. Serve with mountains of fluffy mashed potatoes & stir-fried Savoy Cabbage.

Easy French Style Cassoulet

 About Cassoulet: 

Whilst there is no French National Dish as such, Cassoulet is one of the most well known of French dishes worldwide. Originally hailing from the South West of France, it is eaten throughout the country and is readily available in large tins which can be purchased in most supermarkets.

The origin of Cassoulet is a little obscure. Some say it is an Arab dish, others says it was created in Castelnaudary in the 14th and 15th centuries during the Hundred Years’ war. But whatever its origin, it’s one of the most delicious and satisfying of all French provincial dishes. It is a slow simmered casserole made primarily of white (haricot) beans plus meat but never chicken or fish.

The three famous recipes are Cassoulet de Castelnaudary which is made with pork as the main meat, Cassoulet de Toulouse, which sometimes has the addition of lamb and always Toulouse sausages and Cassoulet de Carcassonne which sometimes has the addition of partridge during the season. Goose or Duck Confit is also often used in the preparation of this dish.

Comments

  1. says

    Karen, what a fantastic recipe, my husband loves Cassoulet, and this sound just the ticket. We have a few tins of duck, and a few tins of beans so I’ll be cooking him a special birthday treat at the weekend. Thank you, your always cioming to my rescue with great ideas :-). Jude x

    • says

      Thanks Jude! This is a moveable feast, ass whatever meat or bangers you have to hand and YES to confit d’canard every time! I was VERY pleased with this recipe as it was almost as good as a traditional cassoulet. Karen xx

  2. says

    As you know I also made something very similar yesterday. Didn’t use beans though I should have! It looks stunning and so warming. Perfect for tonight… I’m on my way!

    • says

      I do remember, and I also remember having a wee drool when I was there too! Can’t beat simple peasant food like this when the temperatures have dropped.

  3. says

    This is just so perfect for this time of year. I always have tinned beans in the store cupboard for dishes like this…..hard to beat. I agree about the quality of sausages being important. I am always staggered by how good French sausages are, even in the local Spar near where we stay their sausages are top notch!

  4. says

    I haven’t made a cassoulet for a long time and I love the combination of sausages, beans and breadcrumbs. Seeing this has reminded me I should make one again soon.

  5. says

    Our temperature has dipped to a chilly 18 degrees Celcius today (don’t forget we’re supposed to be in the middle of an Aussie Summer) so I think this might be perfect whilst we’re feeling the chill ~ LOL
    My hubby loves Cassoulet too. What is it about this dish that sets all the men drooling? Or is it that they just love comfort food generally.
    I’ve got everything needed, so someone is going to have a lovely surprise tonight. Pity its not Valentine’s night, he’d really think he’d hit the jackpot!
    Thanks Karen, as always enjoyed my visit :)

    • says

      LOVELY to see you here as always Neesie! If the temperatures are still low next week, I think you should treat your hubby to this if you don’t manage to make it tonight! Karen

  6. says

    This is very similar to one of my all-time favourites, which I cook quite often. Needs a good fruity red wine (Vin de Pays d’Oc?) to accompany it. I also like this dish served with flat noodles – Tagliatelle perhaps – smothered in butter and black pepper. Maybe an endive salad… Cheese to follow? (Roquefort). Possibly a glass of Armagnac to finish?

    • says

      I would join you any day of the week with a menu like that Mark! One small change for me, I would go for a Cote de Blaye red wine, great wine with legs but not excessive tannin! The noodles, salad, cheese and Armagnac are all a BIG yes from me!

  7. says

    wow this looks delicious!! I’m drooling looking at the pictures! I saw this at dinner time when I had a very sorry looking plate in front of me and I wished I could just reach into the screen and have this instead. I am a new convert to the slow cooker so will definitely give this a go. Especially if you have a sausage giveaway :P

  8. says

    we are finally getting our first real cold snap this weekend. Been an odd winter here in god’s country (Kansas). This would be worth digging into my freezer and grabbing my last baggie of smoked pork shoulder from last summer. And of course, stunning photos and thanks for the history lesson.

    If you squint your eyes and look crosseyed, you might see the origins of these dishes from the Mongol hordes. They would camp for the night, take a shield, add the scraps from their night meal, add water, cover with a second shield and leave in the embers of their fire overnight. Wake up the next day with stew to start their day full and ready for more hording.

    Those were the days.

    • says

      Thanks Dave, yes, interesting about dishes like this, not just the Mongol hordes, but also cowboys, armies and nomadic tribes would have a pot going like this.

  9. says

    Cassoulet is probably my ultimate winter dish and this looks just right to me. A cheat’s version is fine with me – I always make a cheat’s version too. When I was in Castelnaudary a few years ago I found that not everyone there agreed on the recipe. There seemed to be a fundamental disagreement about whether to add breadcrumbs or not. (I always use breadcrumbs). Can I have a few glasses of Madiran with it? That way I can probably sleep until the weather improves.

    • says

      Ah, a fellow Madiran wine lover, how I love Madiran; I had the privilege of visiting the Montus vineyard last year, on our way down to Argeles Gazost. Even here in the Charente Maritime, way out of the Cassoulet region, there are heated debates about to add breadcrumbs or not.

  10. Herbert Appleby says

    I was almost satisfied with my intake of food for today… then I look at these sumptuous photos and get reminded of the treats I could be cooking up tomorrow. Now I’m hungry again : )

  11. Fiona Matters says

    This looks fabulous and is just what I’m looking for as the base for my pie tonight. Slightly odd ingredients for a pie I agree – but my excuse is I’m trying to run down my stores as we’re moving in a week (eek). I’m using pork mince instead but otherwise this will be perfect!

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