Legendary Dishes | Cassoulet (country casserole)

FRANCE

Of all the regional casseroles made in France over the centuries it is the version from Languedoc that home cooks and professional chefs associate with the definition of the dish. The cassoulet epitomised traditional country produce and cooking, not just in France but across northern and western Europe.

  • 1.5 litres water
  • 500 g dried haricot beans, soaked
  • 375 g pork blade / rib bones
  • 250 g lamb shoulder, whole
  • 250 ml meat stock
  • 150 g pork fat
  • 2 legs preserved duck / goose
  • 100 g pork rind, whole
  • 100 g breadcrumbs
  • 100 g carrots, chopped
  • 100 g garlic sausage
  • 100 g goose fat, for frying
  • 100 g (1 whole) onion studded with cloves
  • 100 g onions, chopped
  • 50 ml tomato purée
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 10 g salt, pinch
  • 10 g black pepper, freshly ground
  • 3 g parsley (for bouquet garni in muslin bag) x 2
  • 3 g rosemary (for bouquet garni in muslin bag) x 2
  • 3 g sage (for bouquet garni in muslin bag) x 2
  • 3 g savory (for bouquet garni in muslin bag) x 2
  • 5 cloves (for bouquet garni in muslin bag) x 2
  • 1 sprig thyme (for bouquet garni in muslin bag) x 2
  • 2 bay leaves (for bouquet garni in muslin bag) x 2

Put beans in a large pot of water with carrot, pork fat, pork rind, onion studded with cloves, two cloves of garlic and first bouquet garni. Simmer for an hour, making sure beans do not break up.

Season lamb.

Brown lamb and pork bones in two tablespoons of goose fat.

Put meat and bones in a large pot with second bouquet garni, remaining garlic, onions, tomato purée and a ladle of meat stock. Cook covered over a low heat for an hour, adding a ladle of stock every 20 minutes to keep the lamb moist.

Add beans and pork rind to the lamb pot with duck / goose legs and garlic sausage, simmer for a further hour.

Remove all the meat from the lamb pot, cut into large cubes or slices. Cut rind into rectangles.

Preheat oven to 160°C.

Line a casserole dish with rind rectangles, place beans on top followed by the meat and a final layer of beans, seasoning each layer. Place any left over rind on top.

Moisten top layer with meat stock.

Melt remaining goose fat.

Cover casserole with a heavy sprinkling of breadcrumbs followed by a drizzle of goose fat.

Bake for an hour, breaking crust several times after 30 minutes.