23 January 2011

Le Creuset Adventures: Cassoulet

Since Christmas, I have been experimenting with all sorts of recipes for my shiny new Le Creuset. Lots of soups, mainly. However, there is one specific dish that Andy requested we try out once I told him about the shiny new cooking utensil. And that request was for Cassoulet. Cassoulet is a home-style french dish with beans, and all sorts of various meats that is all cooked together in one pot. Fancy versions include duck confit and lamb. I decided to make a more accessible, budget version. I based it on this recipe that I found online. Here was my starting point:

That's 2.5 lbs of pork shoulder, cubed in 1-2 inch pieces; one onion, 3 carrots, & 3 celery stalks, a couple of cloves of garlic, diced; 1 lb bacon, cut into 2-inch pieces; 4 chicken thighs, bone in, skinless; 2 lbs white beans (pre-soaked); 2 pork sausages (shallot & garlic); tomato paste; 1 can diced tomatoes; sage & thyme.

Step 1: Brown all of the meat, in batches, and then set it on a plate off to the side. This part will take quite some time, even with a giant pot:

Step 2 (not pictured): Add the veggies to the pot and cook until softened.
Step 3: Add all the meat back into the pot with the veggies and herbs. Mix well, allow to cook a while so all the flavors can start to come together.

Step 4: Add the beans, plus 2 TB tomato paste and 1 can diced tomatoes. Then add water until the beans are mostly covered:

In the meantime, you should have been preheating the oven:

Step 5: You should bake it, covered, in the preheated oven for 1 to 1.5 hours, until the beans have absorbed quite a bit of liquid and are completely softened.

Step 6: Enjoy! I skipped the bread crumbs because this already seemed like way more than enough food.

Note that my Le Creuset is 7.5 QUARTS. And as you can see, it was full to the brim. About halfway through prep, Andy and I realized just how much food it was going to be, so we invited some friends over to enjoy it with us:

Jill and Andrej seemed to like it. And I had leftovers for DAYS. I sent some home with both Jill and Andy, gave some to my parents, and I still had enough for lunches at work for 3 days. I think we figured out that it serves 12 people easily. Ooops. At least it was delicious!