This was my first attempt at cassoulet (and I am still far from being an expert!), which is essentially a hearty French casserole made with meat and beans. I tackled it in much the same way as I create many of my recipes – starting with a list of ingredients and a plan for how I was going to prepare the dish, and then just diving into the cooking, making adjustments and notes as I went along. Initially I was concerned that my ingredients were not traditional enough, but upon further research I found that there are actually countless versions of this classic dish out there, and this is mine.
While cassoulet is easy to make in terms of skill it does take a bit of time, as the different components of the dish are prepared separately and then put together at the end. I opted to use a mixture of tinned beans rather than having to soak dried ones, and also chose chicken rather than duck confit which you will see in many cassoulet recipes. Instead of using a traditional bouquet garni (in fact, my dish was probably anything but traditional by the time I had finished!) I added a selection of fresh chopped herbs along with some bay leaves.
Do check in again tomorrow when I will be making an exciting announcement about October’s I Made It Challenge!
CHICKEN AND SAUSAGE CASSOULET
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 onion, halved and sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 celery stalk, sliced
- 250g bacon, diced
- 4 free range chicken breast fillets, sliced diagonally
- 8 pork or lamb sausages (about 500g)
- 6 large tomatoes
- 750ml chicken stock
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 tsp chopped parsley
- 1 tsp chopped rosemary
- 2 tsp chopped thyme
- salt and pepper
- 1 x 400g tin white cannellini beans
- 1 x 400g tin red kidney beans
- 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1.) Melt the butter in a large, deep saucepan. Add the onion, garlic, celery and bacon. Cook for 3 minutes then remove from the pan and set aside.
2.) Add the chicken breast slices to the same pan and brown. Remove from the pan and set aside.
3.) Brown the sausages in the same pan. Remove and allow them to cool slightly before cutting into 2cm slices.
4.) Blanche the tomatoes and chop into chunks. Place in the saucepan along with the onion mixture, chicken and sausages. Add the chicken stock, bay leaves, parsley, rosemary and thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Stir, then allow to simmer for 40 minutes.
5.) Preheat your oven to 160ºC. Drain the cannellini beans and red kidney beans and mix together in a bowl.
6.) Use a slotted spoon to place half of the meat in a large casserole dish. Next, spoon half of the bean mix in a layer on top of the meat. Add the remaining meat, then top with the remaining beans. Top the casserole dish up with some of the cooking liquid.
7.) Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the top. Bake for 45 minutes until the breadcrumbs are golden and the cassoulet is bubbling at the sides.