– 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.
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.
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.