Greg
Greg's cassoulet
French baked beans
Greg's home page
Cooking main page
Recipe index
Cooking times
Weights and measures
Food suppliers
Greg's diary
Copyright info
Google

This is the recipe I have been working on since about 1995 for cooking cassoulet, a baked bean dish from the south-west of France. See the discussion for some of the background, in particular the difficulty of finding typical ingredients. This recipe makes do with ingredients that you can (sometimes) find in provincial Victoria, Australia.

I'm still working on this recipe, and I have two older versions, from November 2006 and 22 November 2018. This recipe is simpler, and the recipe from 2018 is more traditional, but involves more work, and so far I haven't seen any difference in the results.

This version is very similar to the version from 22 November 2018, and the photos date from then. It includes ideas that I had after cooking it.

Ingredients

These ingredients are sufficient for my cassole, which holds 3.7 litres:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20181122/big/Cassoulet-2.jpeg
Image title: Cassoulet 2          Dimensions:          5245 x 3888, 5788 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Thursday, 22 November 2018, thumbnails          All images taken on Thursday, 22 November 2018, small
Diary entry for Thursday, 22 November 2018 Complete exposure details

 

I'd guess at about 8 to 12 portions.

quantity       ingredient       step
750 g       dried white beans       1
660 g       meat, preferably lamb, duck and pork, cut into cubes or slices       2
150 g       fat, preferably duck, otherwise lamb or pork (lard)       2
800 g       tinned tomatoes       3
50 g       tomato paste       3
      water to barely cover beans       3
200 g       double-smoked sausage, in slices       4
45 g       salt (see discussion at bottom)       4
50 g       (optional) couennes (pork skin)       4
25 g       garlic       6
about 50 g       bread crumbs       7

There's a lot of choice in the meat. Lamb and duck, including confit de canard, are the most popular, though pork is also acceptable. The sausage in step 4 is also variable, and at a pinch could be omitted or replaced by cold-smoked ham (but not Australian hot-smoked ham in slices). The reason for specifying it separately is simply that it needs less cooking. In principle the total weight of meat and sausage should be about 860 g.

The beans should be “fresh” (i.e. from the last harvest). Madame Saint-Ange and Bocuse are both in agreement that old beans detract greatly from the quality of the dish. They will split, and the interior will remain granular.

Traditional recipes state that you should cook the beans for up to three hours. I use Pelagonia beans, and they cook relatively quickly. In my experience this would lead to their complete disintegration; they should be cooked but firm. Depending on the beans, this can happen after as little as one hour. It's important to keep an eye on them and remove them when they're cooked.

In the past I've had difficulty with too much liquid being left over at the end, but this recipe now works for me. Err on the side of too little liquid.

Preparation

There are roughly three groups of steps in the cooking: soften the beans and prepare the meat (steps 1 and 2), cook the individual ingredients (steps 3 to 6) and cook it (step 7) Between each step there can be an arbitrarily long gap. Plan to start boiling the beans at leave 4 hours before serving, preferably more.

  1. Soak the beans in water overnight (preferably), or cover with boiling water and soak for 2 hours. Rinse the beans.

  2. Fry the raw meat in some of the fat until brown. Let it cool.

  3. Heat the oven to 130°. Bring the water to the boil and add beans, tomatoes with juice, tomato paste, meat and 80 g duck fat. Bring back to the boil and simmer in the oven 40 minutes. The water should be sufficient to just cover the beans. Don't add any salt (or any salty meat) yet, since it tends to harden the beans.

  4. After 40 minutes, add the salt, any salty meat and the sausage and stir. If making couennes from ham skin, put it in now. Check the beans, which should still need further cooking.

  5. After another 30 minutes, check the beans. They could be cooked, but they might need more. They should not be disintegrating. Remove any ham skin and cut into fine couennes.

  6. Crush the garlic into the mixture and mix. Add couennes if used. Move the entire mixture to a cassole. At this point you can leave it until an hour before serving.

  7. 1 hour before serving: Mix the breadcrumbs with remaining fat until evenly covered. Spread over the top of the bean mixture. Bake in the fan-forced oven at 150° with heat from above and below until the surface is browned. The temperature of 150° is a guess; 180° is too hot and causes the broth to boil over the crust.


    https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20181122/big/Cassoulet-24.jpeg
    Image title: Cassoulet 24          Dimensions:          5249 x 3888, 5480 kB
    Make a single page with this image Hide this image
    Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
    Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
    All images taken on Thursday, 22 November 2018, thumbnails          All images taken on Thursday, 22 November 2018, small
    Diary entry for Thursday, 22 November 2018 Complete exposure details

     

How much salt?

The amount of salt needed depends on the meat. If there's no salt in the meat and sausage, 55 g seems right. With salted sausage and ham, 40 g is safer.

Discussion

This recipe is very similar to the recipe of 22 November 2018. The biggest difference is that the meat is cooked after cutting, which makes it much easier to handle. I'm still trying to find whether there are any disadvantages.


Cooking home page Recipe index Greg's home page Greg's diary Greg's photos

Valid XHTML 1.0!

$Id: cassoulet.php,v 1.26 2021/09/29 03:19:41 grog Exp $