Because I'm on maternity leave, I've been spending lots of time nursing and watching Food Network, exactly what I did with Bunny almost 9 years ago. I haven't had this much time to relax and do nothing (except love up on a cute little baby) in a long, long time. It feels luxurious. It's also inspiring me want to cook, especially since I have the time.
Yesterday Rachael Ray cooked a cassoulet in 30 minutes and I thought about it for the rest of the day. And I woke up this morning thinking about it, so I decided to use her quick technique to make my own version today. And here it is!
CITYMAMA'S CASUAL CASSOULET
I used both raw and cooked sausages for this. Both worked great.
- olive oil
- 4-mild sausages (whatever you prefer: chicken, Italian, etc), cut into chunks
- 4-spicy sausages (Italian, andouille, merguez, etc.), cut into chunks
- 1 lb. of bonesless skinless chicken thighs, cut into chunks
- 1/2-1 lb of pork shoulder (or butt), cut into chunks
- white wine
- 2 bay leaves
- a sprig of fresh thyme
- 3-celery stalks, trimmed and diced
- 2 carrots, scrubbed and cut into quarters (cut each carrot in half lengthwise, then in half again, then dice)
- one large onion, finely chopped
- 1 heaping teaspoon of whole grain mustard
- 2 cans of cannelini beans (do not drain)
- water or chicken stock (if needed)
- pepper to taste (I found it did not need salt at all)
- 1/3 cup of butter or margarine
- 6 oz of panko bread crumbs (I like the Whole Foods house brand)
- a handful of fresh parsley, minced
Heat 2-3 glugs of olive oil in a large, oven-proof Dutch oven over medium heat then add in sausages, chicken, and pork. Brown well, stirring often until meat is cooked through and there are lots of browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Deglaze pan with at least a cup of wine (I used more) and scrape up the bits on the bottom of the pan. After a few minutes or when the pan is "clean," add in the bay leaves, thyme, celery, carrots, onion, and mustard. Continue cooking for about 10-15 minutes until the veggies are tender. Add in the beans and their liquid, reduce heat to a bare simmer, and warm the beans through. If it looks too thick you can add a little water, stock, and/or wine. Check for salt and pepper.
At this point, you can shut off the pot and just let the cassoulet hang out on the stove, covered, to let the flavors meld. Or you can stick it in the fridge or freezer (remove bay leaves first) to have it on another night. (This makes a lot so you might want to freeze half.)
To finish the cassoulet: Preheat broiler. Melt butter in a small bowl in the microwave. Put the bread crumbs and parsley in a large bowl and when the butter is melted, add it to the bread crumb mixture and toss well to coat. Spread bread crumbs over the cassoulet and pop the whole Dutch oven under the broiler for several minutes or until the bread crumbs are nicely browned all over. Remove from oven and serve.