If you are a lover (or maybe just a like-er) of beans, then I have the dish for you.  The recipe is cassoulet.  Some may not have heard that name before, so to put it in simple terms....“Insanely delicious bean stew, with incredibly good pieces of meat”…but I guess that doesn’t quite role off the tongue like Cassoulet.  The dish is classic French cooking and I rarely see it these days outside of small French Brasserie’s that cling the old school French cooking traditions.  And while it's a shame that cassoulet is not all that easy to find out, it’s fortunate that this wonderful, complex, and flavorful recipe is really pretty easy to make at home.  While there are a fair number of ingredients, there's not too much prep, as it's a fairly rustic dish, it's a one pot meal, and you can do all the work ahead of time, leaving the cassoulet to stew in a low oven for a couple hours, while you sip a nice glass of wine.  I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do.

Recipe Overview and Keys to Success

To make the best Cassoulet Recipe just follow these few simple steps:

  1. You need to start off with dry beans, not canned.  Cassoulet is a bean stew, and really needs to be cooked for a couple hours.  Pre-cooked beans just won’t hold up; they’ll turn to mush.
  2. You also shouldn’t rush the dish.  It takes a couple hours in the oven, so plan ahead.  Fortunately, once you pop it in, you can forget about it for a while.
  3. Make sure you use enough stock.  The cassoulet I cook in the video, was not all that far from being dry.  The beans will absorb liquid, some will evaporate, so err on it being a bit too liquidy going into the oven
  4. Finally, I’ve used some pork belly in my cassoulet.  It’s not a super easy ingredient to find, but bacon is.  Feel free to swap it out for bacon…for that matter, swap out any of the meats you like…but generally you want fatty, somewhat tough cuts.

RECIPE FOR CASSOULET

Ingredients (for 4)

  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 carrot diced
  • 1 celery stalk diced
  • 4 garlic cloves diced
  • 2 mild Italian sausages
  • 2 sweet Italian sausages
  • 2 duck leg confit
  • 1/2 cup large diced chorizo sausage
  • 8 ounces large diced pork belly, or 5 – 6 thick sliced bacon cut into 3 inch wide pieces
  • 3 – 4 cups beef or chicken stock
  • 3/4 lbs dry white beans
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs

Making the Cassoulet

  • If you have time, soak the beans for 10 hours, or overnight.  If not, cover them with water in a pot.  Bring the water to a boil, turn off the heat and cover.  Let the beans soak in the hot water for an hour
  • In a large Dutch oven over high heat, quickly brown the bacon, Italian Sausages, and the duck leg.  Start with a bit of olive oil, but the meat should give off quite a bit of fat of their own
  • Remove the meat, and drain most of the oil into a separate holding bowl
  • Add the carrots, onion, celery and garlic to the dutch oven, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until the onions are soft
  • If the pan ever looks dry, add back the oil you reserved earlier
  • Add the tomato paste, stir in and cook for 3 – 4 minutes
  • Add the white wine, stir, and allow it to reduce by half
  • Drain the beans from the soaking water, add them to the Dutch oven along with the herbs, and add enough stock to cover the beans by about 90%.
  • Season the beans with a good amount of salt and pepper and stir to distribute everything evenly
  • Add all the browned meat, plus the chorizo to the Dutch oven, evenly distributed and pushed down into the beans.
  • Cover the Dutch oven and bring the stock to a light simmer
  • Put it into a 325 degree oven and cook for 1.5 – 2 hours until the beans are tender
  • You may want to check at the hour mark.  If there is little to no liquid left, add a bit more stock
  • Once the beans are tender, remove the cassoulet from the oven and turn on the broiler
  • Moisten the bread crumbs with some olive oil, and then spread the bread crumbs over the top of the cassoulet
  • Move the cassoulet, uncovered, back into the oven for about 5 minutes (but watch it closely) so the broiler can crisp the bread crumbs
  • Remove from the oven, let it cool for about 5 minutes and serve it up, distributing a bit of each type meat, along with a healthy portion of beans to each plate

Wine recommendation

This Cassoulet Recipe takes us to the South of France, and so that is where we’ll stay for our wine pairing.  Among other great wines, the Rhone Region is famous for quality Syrah blends, perhaps none more famous than Chateauneuf De Pape, which is what I’d recommend for this Cassoulet. The wine has plenty of body and substance for the rich meats and a great earthiness that will go well with the beans.  Enjoy!

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