Cassoulet is a hearty meal-in-one dish of poultry, pork and beans in a tomato sauce from Languedoc, in the south of France. This is my simplified method for making a Cassoulet using everyday ingredients like chicken legs and baked beans. It’s not exactly the same as what you’d find in Toulouse but I think you’ll find its a close enough imitation as long as you’re not French. More importantly my recipe only takes 1 hour to prepare and cook instead of a whole day if you were to do it ‘properly’.
- Chicken Leg with Thigh (2)
- Pork Sausages (2)
- Pancetta (100g)
- Onion (1/2)
- Shallot (4)
- White Wine (1/2 cup)
- Baked Beans (1 can, small)
- Oxo Beef Cube (1)
- Coriander Seed Powder
- Peel the shallots but keep them whole. The half onion should be cut into 3 wedges.
- Trim (and retain) any excess skin and visible fat from the chicken. Season the chicken legs with a dusting of pepper, but no salt.
- Fry 100g of diced pancetta in a pan on low heat with 1T oil (goose fat if you have any) together with the chicken trimmings and the two pork sausages.
- When the fat from the pancetta begins to render, add the shallots and onions to the pan. Move the contents of the pan around to prevent them from getting burnt until the onion breaks up into soft pieces.
- Pour everything from the pan into a casserole. The Casserole should be tall enough to prevent boiling over. Drain the oil back into the pan and turn up the heat.
- When the pan is hot, brown the chicken in it. The chicken shouldn’t be in the pan so long that it gets cooked completely.
- Place the browned chicken in the casserole as well and arrange all the contents snugly as shown. Sprinkle some black pepper over everything.
- Preheat your oven to 180oC (350oF).
- Melt 1 Oxo Beef cube in 3/4 cup of hot water and use this stock to deglaze the pan. Turn on the heat again and add 1/2 cup of white wine and the can of baked beans. While the mixture is being brought to a boil, add 1T Tarragon, 1T thyme, 1t coriander seed powder.
- After the sauce has been boiling for half a minute, pour it into the casserole. Place the casserole in the oven for 25 minutes, uncovered. The cooking time may vary slightly, you’ll know its time when enough of the liquid has evaporated and the chicken is partially exposed.
- You may serve your cassoulet immediately but it can also be put aside and reheated later, it will taste just as good. It is traditional to serve the whole casserole (as per below), with the individual plating done at the table. The dish has a lot of sauce, so it goes well with baguette or some other kind of bread.
- If you haven’t cooked an authentic cassoulet before, here is a summary: Cassoulet is usually served with Duck Leg Confit instead of chicken and this is to be roasted separately. You’ll also need Toulouse Sausages which are hard to find, plus you also have to soak beans ahead of time and cook them for a really long time to get them soft. Other typical cassoulet ingredients that I left out include tomatoes, celery, carrots and laminated pork.
- The nice thing about canned baked beans is they come pressure-cooked and their sauce has the same effect as the gelatin you would normally get from cooking pork skin in the Cassoulet for a long time. Baked beans are thus the secret to the greatly reduced cooking time.
- Speaking of pork skin, if you’d like you could try adding pieces of smoked ham hock if you so desire; treat them the same as the sausages.
- Some recipes sprinkle breadcrumbs on the cassoulet to form a crust, but I don’t belong to the crust camp.
- You can use a pot or pan instead of glass or ceramic ware as long as they come with an all metal handle. Be warned – if you use an oversized sized container the liquid level will be too low to cover the chicken initially and it will get burnt. A solution is to bake the casserole covered and then again uncovered at the end.