Cassoulet is simple enough to serve up as a family supper, yet impressive enough to serve friends. Packed full of delicious flavours, from classic French ingredients like Toulouse sausages, and garlic.
You can find jars or tins of this in any of the French supermarkets which we Brits might visit. Varying in size from 2 servings upwards to feeding a large family of 8 or so, reheating in the oven is all that is needed.
Upmarket and luxury versions use confit duck legs like the one shown above, but our version uses chicken thighs.
However, making a decent cassoulet is quite easy even if the ingredients list is quite long.
Originating in southern France, this is a so-called peasant dish, a rich, slow-cooked casserole containing meat, pork skin and white beans.
The cassole, a traditional cooking vessel, is a deep, round, earthenware pot with slanting sides, giving cassoulet its name. Wikipedia
- Duck or goose fat
- 6 Toulouse sausage
- 4 sticks Celery
- 3 Carrots
- 2 onions halved and sliced
- 6 Chicken thighs
- 2 cloves Garlic crushed
- 200 g Lardons
- 2 cans Chopped tomatoes
- 150 ml Red wine
- 1 tsp Caster sugar
- 1 tsp Dried chilli flakes
- 1 Bay leaf
- 4-5 sprigs fresh thyme bushy
- 400 g cannellini beans in water, drained and rinsed
- 400 g butter beans in water, drained and rinsed
- Freshly ground black pepper
For the garnish
- 1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley
- ½ Oranges large, zest only, finely grated
- Brush a large non-stick frying pan with the sunflower oil, using the tip of a pastry brush. Add the sausages to the pan and cook over a medium heat for 10 minutes, turning every now and then until nicely browned on all sides.
- Meanwhile, trim the celery and peel the carrots and cut them into diagonal slices about 1.5cm/½in thick.
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
- Add the onions to the frying pan and cook with the sausages for 6-8 minutes, stirring regularly until softened and lightly browned.
- Trim the chicken thighs of any visible fat – we find a good pair of kitchen scissors does the job well – then cut the thighs in half.
- Add the garlic and chicken pieces to the pan with the sausages and onions and cook for 3-4 minutes, turning the chicken twice until coloured all over.
- Transfer everything to a large flameproof casserole dish.
- Stir in the gammon, celery, carrots, tomatoes, red wine and 300ml/½ pint cold water, then sprinkle over the caster sugar and chilli flakes. Stir in the bay leaf and thyme and season with lots of ground black pepper.
- Bring the cassoulet to a simmer on the hob, then cover with a lid and transfer to the oven. Cook for 45 minutes.
- Take the casserole out of the oven and stir in all the beans. Cover with the lid again and put the dish back in the oven for another 30 minutes.
- Just before the cassoulet is ready, prepare the garnish. Chop the parsley roughly and toss with the orange zest in a small bowl.
- Serve large portions of the cassoulet in deep plates or wide bowls with a good sprinkling of the zesty parsley garnish on each one.