Sunday, September 30, 2007


I made something approximately like cassoulet the other night. It turned out very tasty, but I'm not sure it's exactly cassoulet.

Here's what went in it:

Toulouse sausage
1/2 a rabbit (poached & taken off the bone)
2 duck legs
1 1/2 cups (dry measure) cannellini beans
1 1/2 cans tomato paste
a bunch of onions
lots of bay leaves
chicken stock
parsley, sage, rosemary & thyme, all chopped up
red wine
a couple of carrots
a couple stalks of celery

Construction was a little haphazard. I made the chicken stock the day before and put the beans on to soak - in salted water on the woodstove, although the woodstove went out sometime in the night and wasn't relit. Then I remembered at about noon that my duck and bunny were still in the freezer. I took them out, dumped the bunny into a large stock pot with water, an onion and some bay leaves and stuck the duck legs directly in the chicken stock. I simmered both until they were tender enough to remove the meat from the bone, then I threw the rabbit bones back into the water and made some more stock out of that, reducing it as it cooked. Final construction went as follows:

1. Cooked bacon in dutch oven until crispy, then tossed in mirepoix.
2. Added sausage, cut into chunks (not cooked yet).
3. Added herbs. Cooked until sausage started to look a bit done.
4. Deglazed with red wine.
5. Chopped and threw in lots and lots of garlic. Mmmm.
6. Added half the rabbit, chopped (I kept the other half and it found its way into a curry the next night), and all the duck meat, chopped.
7. Added the beans, drained and rinsed.
8. Eyeballed the amount of stock to add (oh, and I'd skimmed the fat off the chicken stock. The rabbit stock didn't have any to speak of.) I ended up putting most of both stocks in, but I've no idea the amounts.
9. Added the tomato paste.

Then I brought it up to a boil and stuck it in a 375F oven for a couple of hours. The liquid condensed and got absorbed by the beans to a certain point. I thickened it up a bit more with some flour combined with the fat from the stock and a bit of butter. Then I put it back in the oven covered with a topping of breadcrumbs mixed with a bit of salt and thyme. Half an hour later, I cranked the oven up to broil for a minute or two, then declared it done.

It was fantastic. Rich, meaty and satisfying, with a ton of deep, complex flavour. The beans were tender without being mushy, the duck and rabbit were melty and delicious, and the sausage just sort of fell apart in a most pleasing manner when nibbled. Altogether an unqualified success. I don't care if it wasn't a thoroughly authentic cassoulet, it totally worked for me.


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