French Fridays: Cassoulet from My Paris Kitchen

David Lebovitz cassoulet on eatlivetravelwrite.comThis week’s  Cook the Book Fridays recipe from David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen was kind of epic. In so many senses of the word. Cassoulet is a slow-cooked (but not made in the slow cooker) casserole containing white beans and meat – typically duck confit, sausage and perhaps pork belly or goose. It hails from Southwest France (the regions around Toulouse, Carcassonne, Castelnaudary depending on who you listen to) and our vacation rental is smack bang in the middle of cassoulet country so I’m more than familiar with it. In fact, our pantry in France always has a jar of cassoulet as “emergency food” (if we arrive late or on a day when no stores are open) and it’s saved our tummies more than once! Wait – cassoulet in a JAR, I hear you ask? Yes, indeed and while it’s not the authentic dish, it’s pretty darned good!

We’ve also been to Castelnaudary and despite it being the height of summer, we managed to enjoy one of their authentic cassoulets (the things we do!):

Cassoulet in Castelnaudary on eatlivetravelwrite.comOh, and there’s also this…

Candy cassoulet in Castelnaudary on eatlivetravelwrite.comCandy cassoulet – how can you resist?

The cassoulet is typically made in a cassole – a glazed earthenware dish – and we’ve also made the trek to cassole mecca – Poterie Not-Frères near Mas-Saintes-Puelles.

Poterie Not on eatlivetravelwrite.comThe family has been making the traditional cassoles here since 1947 and while their renown is world-wide, the operation is small and most definitely not touristy. We checked out the operation in silence – moving from the cassoles being shaped…

Making cassoles at Poterie Not on eatlivetravelwrite.comTo the unglazed cassoles…

Unglazed cassoles at Poterie Not on eatlivetravelwrite.comTo the store….

This one came home with us…

Yellow cassole from Poterie Not on eatlivetravelwrite.comSo yeah, I was lucky to have the right dish to make this week’s recipe in!

I didn’t have any leftover duck confit from a couple of weeks ago so I cheated (!) and used duck confit from an excellent local butcher. I also used a large hambone that we had in the freezer (“for soup” but I never got around to it) instead of the ham hock. I used Haricots Tarbais that I had from a recent trip to France so I was all set up with the right(ish) ingredients.

David Lebovitz cassoulet from My Paris Kitchen on eatlivetravelwrite.comNotwithstanding the fact that I didn’t have to add on the extra 2 days to confit the duck, this STILL took me the better part of a day to make. I boiled the beans with the vegetables and cooked off the ham bone to make stock to use and stripped the bone of the meat, then partially cooked the sausages before I was ready to assemble the dish – layering the beans with the meats  and topping it all with breadcrumbs (I only had Panko and I suspect this was not the time to use them because my dish did not look anything like David’s).

AFTER all that prep, the cassoulet cooks for around 3 hours (at a lower temp for the last couple of hours) and you need to break the crust that forms on top of the dish every now and then. I’m not sure of the reason for this but I do know that the cassoulet lost a lot of moisture through doing this and my finished dish did not end up as “saucy” as I would have liked.

Serve of David Lebovitz cassoulet on eatlivetravelwrite.comI had saved some of the ham stock and when I was reheating leftovers, I used a splash of this to moisten the cassoulet and it worked well but next time, I might make even LESS of the recipe (I made 1/2 the quantity and it was enough for SO MANY meals all through the week!) so the cassole isn’t as full and I can add some more liquid at the start of the cooking process. In any case, whilst this was good – excellent really – I probably won’t make this again anytime soon and the next time I eat this, will probably be in France 😉 But a fun experience, for sure and it made the house smell divine!

Get the recipe for David Lebovitz’s cassoulet here or on p 195 of My Paris Kitchen.


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9 thoughts on “French Fridays: Cassoulet from My Paris Kitchen”

  1. My son, Peter (visiting from France!) and I made David’s cassoulet over the holidays. We even used his recipe for counterfeit duck confit. It did take us all day, too, but the house smelled so good the whole time! Thanks for sharing your experience from Poterie Not, I must add that to my list for a future trip.

  2. Mardi neglected to mention that even CLEO has a dish from Poterie Not – her favourite. (We haven’t told her it’s in fact a cendrier…)

    I was a huge fan of this: but then again, she knows I’m a cassoulet fan in general. (And yes, before we bought the house, more than once had to eat in summer – which is just silly.) And our friend who lives near Agen is a cassoulet expert.

    Jeff is right, the house smelled glorious the whole day. And it’s the type of dish that is excellent as leftovers, like many stews: the most decadent lunch in the canteen at work this week, to be sure.

    As we had this a few times, I can’t tell you what I paired it with, in terms of wine: there were different pairings. Once was an Chilean Viognier (yes, you read that right); another was a Canadian Cabernet Franc. This works equally well with red and white wines.

    All in all, a great dish!

  3. Envious of all the dishes from Poterie Not, including CLEO’s. Now I see why the shape of the cassoles makes a difference in the crusty top of the cassoulet. I had to turn up the oven temperature to achieve that. Lovely post!

  4. Mardi, it was so fun to see all of your photos. And all of the information about the region – and the pot! Beautiful!! I liked this, but am pretty much with you – though for me, not a high likelihood that I’ll be eating any at a French restaurant in the region soon, so not too fair! I added a simple “cassoulet soup” that I make, that could be a good addition to your “emergency rations”.

  5. Mardi, This entire post was so wonderful and impressive and I must admit to being a tad envious. I am NOT a jealous person. I have a number of character flaws I’m not proud of but jealousy has never been one. Your experiences in France are so interesting and only enhanced by your and Neil’s love of food. I made the duck confit twice and didn’t share with a soul. The last little bit I tossed into David’s recipe for lentils and it was delicious. Your cassoulet is beautiful and I am happy you enjoyed it over and over and over again!

  6. It looks great and you’ve inspired me to get my cassole out and make some cassoulet this weekend. The weather is rainy and miserable, so it’s the perfect time for it. I even have some Tarbais beans in the pantry.
    Have a good weekend!

  7. I would love to visit a place like that, I always find them interesting. A great post, Mardi, love seeing the candy cassoulet as well as the tinned version. I really enjoyed making this recipe, even though it was a bit time consuming, it was well worth it.


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