Wild West Cassoulet
Some people say that a cassoulet can only be made with very specific ingredients
and in a
very particular manner (including the shape and style of pan). If this is you,
please skip this
recipe! However, if you, like me, believe that recipes are merely canvases for
creativity - even one as traditional as cassoulet - you may very well enjoy this
traditional version of a very fine, rich country French stew.
Our most blatant disregard for the original cassoulet recipe is the absence of
duck. We use bacon instead, which supplies the fat needed for the cassoulet. We
cuts and our all-beef German sausage as our meats, but you may use other
cuts, including stewing chicken and lamb. Choose at least two meats in addition
Start this recipe a day ahead by soaking the beans overnight.
On cooking day, plan 30-40 minutes preparation, plus 2.5-3 hours baking time.
1 lb. dry navy beans or other good soup bean
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
4 slices thick-cut bacon
1.5-2 lb. grassfed beef chuck, beef cheek**, stew, or round, cut into bite-size
1 lg. onion, finely chopped
3 lg. garlic cloves, sliced
1/2 cup white wine
2 cups beef or chicken stock
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tsp. thyme
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
black pepper, freshly ground
1 cup tomato juice
1 lb. Meadow Maid Foods German sausage, cut into slices
1 cup bread crumbs
2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. finely chopped parsley
Place beans in a stainless or glass bowl and cover with warm water. Add 2 Tbsp.
and leave in a warm place overnight, up to 24 hours.
In a Dutch oven casserole*, cook bacon until soft, not crispy. Remove bacon from
leave fat in the pan. If necessary, additional fat, oil, or butter may be added
to the pan
while browning or sautéing. Brown the chuck or round beef in small batches, being sure that
the pieces are richly brown on all sides. Remove meat, leaving fat in pan. Sauté onion and
garlic. Add wine, stock and soaked beans (drained), plus water to cover. Bring
to a boil and
skim foam that rises. Meanwhile, chop bacon into bite-size pieces.
Add 1/4 cup lemon juice, thyme, bay leaf, ground cloves, pepper, tomato juice,
browned beef, and sliced German sausage to pan. Mix all together. Cover pan, and
oven at 350°F until contents start to simmer, then reduce heat to 250°F for a gentle
simmer. Cook until beans are tender, about 2 hours.
When beans are tender, sauté bread crumbs in 2 Tbsp. butter. Mix parsley and Parmesan
cheese into crumbs. Take cassoulet from oven, and remove bay leaf. Taste for
adjust seasoning if necessary. Sprinkle bread crumbs over top. Return to oven,
for about 20 minutes at 350°F.
Serve with a hearty red table wine, crusty bread, and a substantial green salad.
or perhaps I should say, "chow down, pardner!"
*If you do not have a Dutch oven casserole (made for stove-top and oven), you
with a fry pan on the stove top, moving ingredients to an oven-proof pan as you