This is one of my favorite winter dishes that’s requested multiple times a season by my boyfriend. Full of beans, vegetables and meats, it’s truly a “use what you have” dish that’s a warm hug on a cold night… and up here in the northeast, we’ve had more cold nights lately.
Coming from the word, cassole, or a conical clay pot in which it is cooked, cassoulet is a French peasant stew, like all wonderfully cozy dishes. originally from the Languedoc region, there are many variations of the dish based on the town or season it’s made in from the specific bean (tarbais v. flageolet v. fava) to the meats (pork, duck, mutton, sausages).
While my version is slightly Toulouse-like with duck confit and “breadcrumbs,” this is in no way traditional, thus the quotations in the title. I didn’t confit my own duck leg. I didn’t use breadcrumbs, not even gluten free ones), but swapped a pecan-rosemary crumb to keep it crunchy + dietary friendly. leftover chicken is the strong majority of the meat used in this version to lighten it up.
In the same vain of use what you have, you do not need to use meat if you’re strictly plant based. You can add sweet potato, butternut squash or greens to boost up the vegetables, and add more beans, tempeh crumbles or even browned mushrooms to have that stick-to-your-ribs feeling without any meat at all. The largest trick is to layer flavor like any soup so make sure the vegetables and tempeh are seasoned in each step. Also, I’d decrease the broth to not make it too liquid – you want a thick stew-like consistency.
Light some candles + a fire, play a game and cozy in with this the next time you see cold in the forecast… which is Friday!
4 tablespoons duck fat or olive oil, separated
2-4 pork sausages
3 medium carrots, chopped
2 medium parsnips, chopped
1 red onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, peeled
5 cups of cooked beans, homemade or canned + drained
1 confited duck leg
2 cups shredded chicken, duck or pork
1-2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped
2 tablespoons (about 1 sprig) rosemary, minced
sea salt + pepper
If you’re using a confited duck leg, scrape the fat off of the leg and set it aside. take the fat off of it + set aside. We’ll use that for cooking. Remove the skin from the leg + shred the meat. Set the meat aside and save the duck leg for stock later if you’d like.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. If you’re not using duck, heat the olive oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Add the pork sausages to the pot, and brown on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. Take the sausages out of the pot, and set aside. I know it’s a lot of setting aside, but trust me, we’re just building flavor.
Add a tablespoon more of the cooking fat you’re using before adding in your carrots and parsnips. Season with salt + pepper, and cook until they start to get soft and golden brown, about 4 minutes. Add in your onion, whole garlic + thyme. Season again with salt + pepper and cook until the onion is translucent.
Add your beans, shredded duck meat + chicken, and fold it all together. You want to have liquid 3/4 of the way up the whole mixture so if you cooked your beans, use some of the bean liquid + some stock. if you’re using canned beans, solely use stock or broth. Nestle the sausages right on top.
In a small bowl, combine your nuts, rosemary + 1 tablespoon duck fat or olive oil. Mix to create a crumb before sprinkling on top of the cassoulet. Place in the oven for 30-45 minutes, or until it’s simmering at the edges and the crumb is brown.
Cool slightly before serving in bowls + enjoy!