The key to cassoulet is time. It's something that can be shortened but it's not recommended. It's the long, slow cooking that really rounds the flavours and gives the beans the opportunity to absorb them gently without breaking. We always try to source the smallest white beans possible, as we find they have thinner skin. Cannellini beans work, but haricots blanc are even better.
With cassoulet, there are no real rules, only guidelines. The variations are limitless – regional and practical.
200g haricot beans
1 tablespoon duck fat
1 stick celery, finely diced
1 clove garlic, chopped
½ onion, diced
8 slices pancetta, diced
150g streaky bacon, cut into 1 cm cubes
1 tbsp brandy
½ tsp smoked paprika
2 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
2 cups chicken stock
2 confit duck legs, cut in half
150g Lyonnais sausage, cut into 5 cm cubes
3 tbsp coarse breadcrumbs
Soak the beans in plenty of water for at least 12 hours, or up to 48 hours.
In a wide based pot, gently fry the celery, garlic, onion, pancetta and kaiserfleisch.
When the vegetables have softened, deglaze the pan with the brandy and stir through the spices and salt.
Add the thyme, bay leaf, drained beans and chicken stock. If necessary add some water so that there is enough liquid to just cover the beans.
Simmer the beans gently on the stove for half an hour. Pour the beans into an oven proof dish and nestle the duck legs and Lyonnais sausage into the beans. Cover the pot with aluminium foil and bake it in the oven at 150C until the beans are cooked through, about 1 – 1-½ hours. When the beans are almost cooked, remove the foil and cover the top with the coarse breadcrumbs and a drizzle of olive oil.
Continue cooking, uncovered, until the bread is golden and the beans and meat are tender.
IMAGE CREDIT: EARL CARTER FOR THE SATURDAY PAPER
What is Cassoulet?
Cassoulet is a dish of braised beans, duck leg and cured pork from the Languedoc region of south-west France. It's a warming, rustic dish with many delicious variations including chicken cassoulet, sausage cassoulet and bean cassoulet.
Learn more about our charcuterie, smallgoods and poultry to use in your next cooking adventure. Expand your repertoire with lapin à la moutarde and braised duck with bacon, kale & prunes as delicious go-to recipes.