Winter has finally arrived. It’s the perfect weather for a hearty cassoulet!
The best way to survive the winter is with a diet of French country dishes that start with lots of goose fat, carry on with lots of wine and end with lots of laughter. Cassoulet is, of course, one of the most perfect winter dishes. It is warming, delicious and has enough calories to keep you going for at least a week. If not more.
Before I give you my recipe, please bear in mind that this is one of those French recipes that can be made way more complicated than it actually is. You can make a fuss about which kind of meat to use, where to cook the cassoulet and whether or not it should have a crisp crust. This is my version, and I hope you like it just as much as we do.
Note: Warm the tin of duck legs for 10 minutes in a hot water bath before opening. The fat will melt and you can remove the legs in one piece.
- 550g white beans
- 2 tbsps duck fat
- 4 medium onions, chopped
- 5 garlic cloves, chopped
- 125g pork belly, cubed
- 1 bouquet garni
- 1,5 L water
- 5 tomatoes, skinned and roughly chopped
- 65g tomato paste
- Fine sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
- 1 tbsp duck fat
- 350g lamb shoulder, cubed
- 3 Toulouse sausages
- 3 duck legs
- 2 handfuls fresh breadcrumbs
Soak the beans overnight. Heat the duck fat, add the onions and the garlic and gently sauté for three minutes. Add the pork belly and cook for another minute. Add the drained beans, the bouquet garni and the water. Bring to the boil and add the chopped tomatoes and the tomato paste. Cover and simmer for one hour, but add the salt and pepper halfway through the cooking time. At the end of the cooking time, preheat the oven to 200°C. Heat ½ tbsp duck fat and brown the lamb. Add to the beans. Prick the sausages and brown them in the other ½ tbsp duck fat. Cut them into three pieces each and add to the beans as well. Remove the duck legs from the fat (see note), cut the meat into rough chunks and add to the beans. Stir well, and top the dish with a handful of breadcrumbs. Put the dish in the oven and cook uncovered for 45 minutes. Push the breadcrumbs down, add another layer of breadcrumbs and cook for a final 45 minutes, increasing the temperature to 220°C during the last ten minutes of cooking time. Serve with a Corbières or a Minervois.