Cassoulet is a French standard, named for the dish in which it is prepared. It is usually, a combination of smoked pork products, beans, diced tomatoes and duck. This is my homegrown version and is a combination of about 7 or 8 recipes. It is not authentic, but it is delicious. Just ask the fam!
If you choose to use dried beans, add about 12 hours to your prep time to let the beans soak overnight, then follow the cooking direction. Proceed with the rest of the recipe as it is written.
- 6 to 8 bone-in chicken thighs
- 1 small onion, rough cut
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- 3 stalks celery, cleaned and diced
- 1 to 2 bay leaves
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed with the side of a knife
- 1 can fire-roasted tomatoes (my family doesn’t like pieces, so I chop it up with my immersion blender)
- 2 tbsp. tomato paste
- 6 slices bacon cut into lardons (you can also use pancetta)
- 3 large links of hot sausage, either Italian, chorizo or andoullie will all work- cut into bitesize pieces
- 3 to 4 cans of beans – Northern Butter Beans, Canneloni, Kidney, Pinto – drained and rinsed if necessary
- 1/2 C dry white wine
- 1/2 C chicken stock
- 2 tsp. dried thyme or 4 or 5 sprigs of fresh thyme
Topping: 1/2 C panko crumbs blended with 1 to 2 tbsp. soft, unsalted butter
Preheat the oven to 350 and make sure the shelf is in the middle of the oven.
In a large, oven proof stock pot, brown the bacon and sausage, rendering out the fat. Take your time doing this. You don’t want it to burn as that will flavor the entire dish. When the bacon is crisp, use a slotted spoon to take the bacon and sausage out and put it in a bowl. You will leave it there for now, and use it and the accumulated juices.
Pat the chicken pieces dry with paper towels and season each piece with salt & pepper. You want to begin to brown the chicken, skin side down in the rendered fat, cooking 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove the chicken to a plate.
Add the onion, garlic, carrots and celery to the pan. Saute until the onion begins to wilt and cook without browning. Add the wine first and deglaze the pan, then add the chicken broth, tomatoes, thyme, bay leaf and tomato paste to the pan. Bring it to a simmer.
Add the beans to the pot and add back the sausage and bacon and any pan drippings. Stir until everything is mixed well.
Now take the partially cooked chicken and lay it flat on top of the beans, snuggling it into the beans a little bit, but not covered by the liquids. Add in any pan drippings as well.
Put the entire pot into the pre-heated oven, uncovered for 1 1/4 hours.
When the timer goes off, open the oven and liberally sprinkle the panko crumbs and butter on top. This will give the dish a beautiful golden brown and crunchy crust when it is fully cooked.
Return the pot to the oven for another hour and enjoy the wonderful aroma filling your house.
Take it out of the oven and let it rest for 15 minutes (or up to 30 minutes). Don’t worry. The density of the beans will keep everything hot. The meat will fall off the bones and the flavors will have you saying “Yummmmm” with every bite. I had to ask twice what the guys thought. They were too busy eating to answer.
Enjoy – you can eat it just as is, with a small side salad, and/or a baguette cut into pieces to sop up the wonderful flavors.