In Cassoulet Confessions, Sylvie Bigar (award-winning food and travel writer) invites readers on her journey in search of the culinary history of the Occitanie region. As she explores the stunning southern countryside, Bigar finds herself in the midst of family kitchens, savouring traditional ancestral recipes of France’s renowned dish: the cassoulet.


Le Cassoulet de Toulouse

While this recipe can be prepared and served within one day, it is best to cook on day one, refrigerate overnight, then bake for an additional 2 hours prior to serving.
Cook Time9 hrs 30 mins
Over2 d
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: French
Keyword: cassoulet, Cassoulet de Toulouse, Traditional Cassoulet
Servings: 8 people
Author: Sylvie Bigar

Ingredients

  • 900 g (2 lb) dried Tarbais beans or other large white beans
  • 6 garlic cloves (3 whole and 3 crushed)
  • 20 rainbow peppercorns
  • 10 cloves
  • 1 large piece (about 250 g/9 oz) fresh pork rind rinsed
  • 1 bouquet garni (or tie together 1 thyme sprig, 1 bay leaf, 5 curly parsley sprigs, 1 celery stalk, 1 leek)
  • 1 carrot chopped
  • 3 onions peeled (1 left whole and 2 finely chopped)
  • 200 g (7 oz) tomato puree
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • tablespoons coarse sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 450 g (1 lb) fresh garlic pork sausage cut into 7 cm (3 in) long pieces
  • 250 g (½ lb) fresh pork belly cubed
  • 4 legs duck confit
  • 1.2 kg (2 lb 10 oz) boneless lamb shoulder cubed
  • 1 tablespoon duck fat
  • 200 g (7 oz) breadcrumbs (half if you only bake the cassoulet once)

Instructions

Day 1

  • Rinse the beans thoroughly, then soak for at least 4 hours and no longer than 12 hours.
  • Drain the beans under cold water, then blanch in a large pot of boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain, then rinse under cold water again.
  • Using a piece of cheesecloth, make a bundle with the whole garlic cloves, the peppercorns and the cloves.
  • Place the pork rind at the bottom of a large stock pot. Add the beans, the bouquet garni, the tied cheesecloth, the carrot and the whole onion. Cover with water (about 2 liters/68 fl oz/8 cups). Mix in the tomato puree and tomato paste and add the salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 hour. Skim the surface when necessary.
  • Add the sausage and continue to cook for another 30 minutes, then remove the sausage and set aside. Drain the beans over a large bowl, reserving the cooking liquid. Discard the pork rind, bouquet garni and cheesecloth. Add salt to taste if necessary.
  • In the meantime, blanch the pieces of pork belly in salted boiling water for 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  • Brown the duck legs in a frying pan, skin side first over a medium heat for about 7 minutes then set aside. In the same pan, brown the lamb pieces on all sides, then set aside. Still using the same pan and fat (if necessary, add 1 teaspoon of the duck fat) lower the heat to medium–low and cook the chopped onions and the garlic until translucent – about 8 minutes.
  • Add the onions and the garlic to the beans and mix well.
  • When cool enough to handle, take the meat off the duck legs and leave in chunks.

Assemble the cassoulet

  • Preheat oven to 120°C (250°F).
  • Spread the duck fat on the interior of a cassole or large Dutch oven.
  • Layer one-third of the beans at the bottom with half of the meats (lamb, pork belly, sausage and duck). Repeat, then top with the last third of the beans. Add four ladles of the cooking liquid, then
  • sprinkle half of the breadcrumbs over the top.
  • Bake for 4 hours. The cassoulet should be bubbling around the top. Regularly break the crust with a spoon, making sure the cassoulet stays moist. Add more cooking liquid if necessary.
  • At this point, you can either serve the cassoulet or refrigerate it overnight for a second bake (recommended).

Day 2

  • About 3 hours before serving, take the cassole out of the refrigerator and bring to room temperature (this will take about 45 minutes).
  • Preheat the oven to 160°C (320°F) and cook the cassoulet for another 2 hours. Once the sides bubble, start breaking the crust. Add water as necessary. Halfway through, top with the remaining
  • breadcrumbs.
  • Let it cool for 10 minutes and serve family style directly from the cassole.

Recipe extracted from:

Cassoulet Confessions: Food, France, Family, and the Stew That Saved My Soul by Sylvie Bigar, published by Hardie Grant

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