I’m trying to write down some of my favorite recipes that are from magazine clippings or old recipe cards and stuff– too easy to lose. This one comes from a very old Cooking Light magazine, though I’ve tweaked it a bit too. It’s a lighter and easier version of the classic cassoulet, but it’s still a hearty meal and a bit of a project to make. This freezes great, too.
1 pound dried white beans (Great Northern, ideally)
3 thick slices of bacon, diced
3 pounds of boneless pork loin (not something like pork butt because it’s too fatty, and not pork tenderloin because it’s too lean), cut into .5 to 1 inch pieces
1 smoked sausage ring (like kielbasa, could be pork or a mix of meats), cut into .5 to 1 inch pieces
2 1/2 cups onion (one very big onion), chopped
A couple pieces of celery, chopped
1 big carrot, chopped in about 1/4 inch pieces
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
One red pepper, chopped in about 1/4 inch pieces (not strictly necessary, but it gives it a nice color to the final dish)
A couple tablespoons of tomato paste
1 14.5 ounce can of chicken stock/broth (Or around 2 cups homemade stock)
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon dry thyme (or Herb de Provence blend)
Salt and pepper to taste
About 1/3 cup water
About 1/2 cup white wine
About 2 cups fresh bread crumbs
About 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- Soak the beans overnight. The next day, drain, rinse, cover in water, and bring to a boil. Turn down to simmer, and cook until done, about an hour or so. Set aside. You can do this several hours in advance.
- Pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees.
- Set out a bowl large enough to hold all of the meats. Put a large Dutch oven on medium heat and slowly cook bacon to render the fat. When it’s crispy, remove it from the pot with a slotted spoon and put it in that large bowl. Be sure to leave behind plenty of the bacon fat.
- Turn up the heat just a bit. In batches, brown the pork loin. You probably won’t need to add any more fat, but have some olive oil nearby just in case. As the pieces brown, remove them and put them in the big bowl.
- Once the pork loin is browned, add the sausage to the now empty pan. These sausages are already cooked, so all you are trying to do is to brown the sausage a bit. You should end up with some nice brown bits in the bottom of the pot. As it finishes, add the sausage to the big bowl.
- In the now empty pot, add all of the vegetables: the onion, celery, carrot, garlic, and red pepper. Add a bit of salt to help the veg lose some of its liquid which will then deglaze the brown bits from the pan. Cook and stir occasionally for 5 or 10 minutes.
- Add the tomato paste and stir thoroughly to mix with the vegetables and to cook the paste a bit. Add the chicken stock and canned tomatoes, stir, and bring it to a simmer.
- Add back to the pot all of the meats and the beans, stirring to thoroughly combine. Bring it back to a simmer, and add a bit of water– but no more than about a 1/3 of a cup because the other ingredients will release more moisture as it cooks.
- Put on a lid and put it in the oven, covered. Check it after about an hour, and if it has released a lot of liquid, take off the lid and put it back into the oven.
- While this cooks, mix together fresh breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese in a bowl and set aside.
- Take the cassoulet in progress out of the oven, and scoop out a little more than a cup of the beans and vegetables and put it the container for an immersion blender. Try not to get any of the meat in there, but don’t worry about it a few pieces. Blend the whole thing up and then stir this back into stew.
- Stir in about a half cup of white wine and taste it to adjust the seasoning– it will probably need some salt and pepper.
- Cover the top of the cassoulet with the breadcrumb and cheese mixture. Turn the oven up to 325, and return the pot to the oven, uncovered, for about 45 minutes or until golden brown on top.
- Let the cassoulet cool for about 15 minutes before serving.