I’m making cassoulet!
My classes start tomorrow at 9:00, so instead of resting up and relaxing like a sane person, I decided to dive into a labour- and time-intensive cooking project that I’ve never done before!
I blame the pot:
(I forgot to take a picture of mine before it went into the oven, so I found a stock photo. Cherry would not have been my first choice, but I didn’t have a choice!)
And I just HAD to get it, because this pot has been discontinued FOREVER, and it’s IMPOSSIBLE to find, except there was one at my LC Outlet store on sale! Incidentally, this is the first LC pot I’ve owned that has visible flaws; there are a couple tiny chips in the enamel on one handle, and some of the enamel elsewhere is scuffed. But that’s okay, because it’s not like I can just get online and order another one.
I’ve been obsessed with this pot ever since Kenji posted his Traditional French Cassoulet recipe. I think I first heard of cassoulet in one of Debra Ollivier’s books, and I’m sure the great Julia covered it in detail, but Kenji made it sound do-able. Ironically, his recipe is optimized for someone who DOESN’T have a cassoulet pot and uses a regular Dutch oven, but I’m a sucker for specialized cookware (understatement of the year).
It’s actually not all that difficult, it just takes forever. I couldn’t find duck fat, so I skipped that, but I was able to get everything else, including a nice “sweet fennel garlic” local sausage.
Here’s all the stuff (except the duck fat)!
Cannellini beans (soaked overnight in brine), frozen concentrated turkey stock, chicken thighs, chicken drumsticks, sweet fennel garlic Italian sausage, salt pork, celery, parsley, carrots, onion, garlic, bay leaves, cloves, and gelatin!
One benefit to using the Dutch oven would be a greater surface area for the browning of the meats; the cassoulet pot barely fits anything. It took me like two hours to brown all the meat:
On the plus side, I managed the heat right, and the browning actually worked! (I have terrible luck with cooking things in fat; everything either burns or never gets dark at all.)
It could have been a little darker, but I’m taking what I can get.
Eventually, I had browned everything:
(and put it in my new Marseille skillet, which was on a wicked sale, plus I needed another 10″ skillet for Kenji’s pan pizza recipe!)
Look at that perfect fond! I almost never get that.
The beans cooked for a while in stock with vegetables, then I took out the veggies, and barely managed to squeeze the meat in:
(Fortunately, the lid does not need to be on for this part.)
I put it in the oven half and hour ago, then staggered upstairs to sit down. I’ll need to go and check it here pretty soon to make sure the beans have enough water.
(a few hours later…)
I think it’s done!
It’s fairly crusty; it could have been a little more so. I only used one packet of gelatin because 1) I was using a traditional cassoulet pot, and 2) my homemade stock has a little more gelatin in it than the store-bought stuff.
Truthfully, I have no idea “how” it turned out, because I’ve never seen a cassoulet before, so I don’t have anything to compare it to. But it looks and smells great! I’ll probably leave in in the oven overnight, then reheat it tomorrow; hopefully the crust will re-form.