Prep 30 mins
Cook 3 hrs 30 mins
Cassoulet is a country dish that was most likely created by necessity. It is composed largely of white beans and whatever meat might be lying around. Imagine a French housewife, about two hundred years ago, assembling the ingredients for this dish and taking it down to the baker-who often had the only oven in the village-to let it sit in his oven for a few hours. She would send one of the children to fetch the hot earthenware pot, which would then be wrapped tightly in a cloth so the child wouldn't burn his hands. What a warm and satisfying meal to feed a hungry family. This is earthy country food at its best. From the Take-Out Menu Cookbook.
- 2 cups dried cannellini beans or 2 cups flagolet beans or 2 cups great northern beans
- 1 (8 ounce) pork rinds, cut into about 10 strips, 8 tied together with string
- 4 flat-leaf parsley stems
- 4 garlic cloves
- 2 bay leaves
- 8 black peppercorns, crushed
- 3 onions, peeled and stuck with 3 whole cloves
- 2 carrots, peeled and quartered
- 2 stalks celery, quartered
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 1⁄2 lbs pork shoulder, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1⁄2 lb andouille sausages or 1⁄2 lb other spicy sausage
- 2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
- Rinse the beans and put them in a large saucepan. Cover with water by about 2 inches and bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove the pan from the heat and let the beans sit for 1 hour.
- Drain the beans, leaving them in the pot, and refill the pot with fresh water.
- Add 2 strips of the pork rind, 1 parsley stem, 1 garlic clove, 1 bay leaf, 2 pepppercorns, 1 onion, 4 pieces of carrot, and 4 pieces of celery.
- Bring to a simmer, then add 1 teaspoon of salt. Cover and cook for 1 hour over low heat at a bare simmer.
- Meanwhile, in a large Dutch oven, place the remaining pork rind, parsley, garlic, bay leaf, peppercorns, onions, carrots, celery and salt, plus the pork shoulder and thyme.
- Cover with water by about 1 inch and bring to a boil over medium heat. Skim the scum from the top of the water, cover and cook on low heat at a bare simmer for 1 hour.
- Reserving the liquid, strain the beans, vegetables, and ring and add them to the pot with the pork shoulder. Add enough of the bean liquid to the pot to cover and cook covered for another hour. Taste the beans and add more salt and pepper as needed.
- Preheat the oven to 325º.
- Remove and discard the pork rind, parsley stems, bay leaf, onion, carrot and celery from the pot. Cut the sausage into 3-inch pieces and add them to the pot, pushing them down into the beans. Top with half the breadcrumbs and bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until the breadcrumbs brown. Remove the pot from the oven, turn the crust over and let it fall into the cassoulet. Top with the remaining breadcrumbs and bake for another 30 minutes. serve hot.