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Saturday, March 12, 2016

(Not So) Quickie Cassoulet 2016

As much as I like to linger in the kitchen, I simply didn't have much time this year to make a languorous celebratory cassoulet and thereby mark the seventh anniversary of my blog,! I couldn't help but think of Arlene Dahl's culinary epic No Time for Cooking as I set out to make Jacques Pepin's 30-Minute Cassoulet. I'll be perfectly frank--it didn't work out, at first. Entre nous, and with all due respect to the great chef, Pepin's cassoulet was more like a 90-minute 30-Minute Cassoulet. As presented, the recipe made little sense and nothing was fully cooked at the 30-minute mark. Was the Le Creuset skillet I used at fault? Was it not roomy enough for all the ingredients? I can't say for sure but after I fiddled with it for an additional hour, my cassoulet ended up being quite tasty. This may be served straightaway but the most important thing I've learned about cassoulet over the years--let it cool before sticking it in the refrigerator overnight and then reheating the next day to release the full flavor.

Let's go through this together, shall we?

1) Everything mostly goes into the pan in parts, starting with browning the ham (rolled shoulder ham a.k.a. daisy ham or Boston Butt) and Italian sausage and then cook covered for 7-8 minutes. Fine.

2) Add bratwurst, mushrooms, onion, garlic, thyme and bay, cook for another 5-6 minutes. Add canned cannellini beans, tomato, water (only a mere 1/2 cup!) and pepper to things, return to boil then reduce for 5 minutes.

And that's it.

So what to do with a bowl of under-cooked nothing with next to no soupy-like liquid for dipping a grilled, olive oil-slathered slice of country bread? I removed the bratwurst and mushrooms from the pale disaster in a skillet and browned them in a separate pan with the onions. I added two cups of water and a porcini mushroom cube and some tomato juice (from the can of already diced tomatoes I used) to make stock. The bratwurst mixture went back in to the skillet. I let this simmer for about a half hour (toward the end, uncovered) to reduce the liquid.

About here it began to resemble cassoulet--and cooked at that! The lesson here? Flip this recipe around a bit and remember it is not a race to achieve a great cassoulet--cook onions and mushrooms first and brown all the meat! Double the amount of liquid at least and simmer down! Let all the ingredients cordially greet one another in the refrigerator overnight and served with grilled country bread!

Do enjoy and thanks to folks for reading!