“Gateway” Cassoulet

Sylvie Bigar's Gateway Cassoulet from her book Cassoulet Confessions in a blue Le Creuset Dutch Oven on a wooden surface.

Coming at you with a recipe for a fabulous cool-weather dish (works well for rainy, still chilly spring days here in Toronto or early autumn days in the Southern Hemisphere!)

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!

I’ve made cassoulet a few times (from David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen and once, before I really knew what I was doing for a Daring Cook’s Challenge back in 2011!). For today’s post I challenged myself to make Sylvie Bigar’s “Gateway Cassoulet” from her 2022 book, Cassoulet Confessions (see my review here). If you pop over to Instagram, you’ll find an opportunity to win a copy of her book too!

Cassoulet Confessions includes a number of recipes for making this iconic French dish – one adapted from Eric Garcia (made over 3 days), a version from Castelnaudary (made over 3 days), a version from Toulouse (made over 2 days), Bigar’s own version (made over 2 days) and finally, her “Gateway Cassoulet” (made in just over 3 hours, not quite “weekday” as it’s labelled but definitely less intimidating nonetheless!).

My own cassoulet “research”

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

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.comSylvie Bigar’s “Gateway Cassoulet” from Cassoulet Confessions

As I said earlier, Bigar’s book includes a few different recipes for this iconic French dish – four of them take between 2-3 days which is a big commitment for a dish you might not have made before. Bigar’s “Gateway Cassoulet” which I made on the weekend, is able to be completed in around 3 hours (once you have soaked the dried beans for a minimum of 2 hours – I soaked mine overnight as I was making this on the weekend.  You could potentially make this in the course of one day (the actual cook time is around 2 1/2 hours, prep time is roughly 45 minutes), so I don’t know it’s quite “weekday”material as it’s labelled but definitely less intimidating and doable over the course of a lazy weekend day at home!

Potentially the most challenging part of the recipe might be sourcing some of the ingredients. I’m lucky that duck fat, duck confit, dried white beans and pork belly are easily found on my high street but others might need to search a little further afield. So it’s a matter of not only planning the cook time but also making sure you have the right ingredients.

In terms of a cooking vessel, I didn’t use my lovely yellow cassole this time as I was making half the recipe for a total of 2 VERY generous portions (1 duck leg, 1 large sausage and a generous amount of pork belly with lots of soupy beans) or 2 portions with a vegetable or salad side dish. I used my Le Creuset (similar to this one <<< affiliate link but I DO use this all the time) and it all fit snugly into the pot as you can see in the photo.

Of course, Neil had to pull a nice wine for this one!

I’m lucky enough to have permission to share the recipe with you today if you want to take this on for yourself!

Yield: 8

Sylvie Bigar's "Gateway" Cassoulet

Sylvie Bigar's Gateway Cassoulet from her book Cassoulet Confessions in a blue Le Creuset Dutch Oven on a wooden surface.

"A nice entry-level cassoulet".

Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Soaking beans Time 12 hours
Total Time 15 hours 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) dried cannellini beans or other large white beans
  • 1 large onion, peeled and quartered
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 parsley sprig (leaves only)
  • 3 thyme sprigs (leaves only)
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 350 g (12 oz) fresh pork belly with skin, cut into 3 cm (1 in) cubes
  • 1 tablespoon duck fat
  • 200 g (1/2 lb) fresh pork sausage, cut into 5 cm (2 in) long pieces
  • 2 legs duck confit
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 liter (4 cups) store-bought chicken stock

Instructions

  1. Rinse the beans thoroughly, then soak for at least 2 hours but no longer than 12 hours.
  2. Preheat oven to 175°C (350°F).
  3. Drain the beans and rinse under cold water.
  4. Fill a 4 liter (135 fl oz/16 cups) Dutch oven with water and bring to a boil. Blanch the beans in the boiling water for 7 minutes, then drain and run under cold water again. Set aside in a bowl.
  5. In a blender, combine the onion, garlic, parsley, thyme, salt and 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) of water. Puree until smooth.
  6. In the Dutch oven, sear the pork belly cubes over medium heat until browned on all sides – about 5 minutes. Stir often to prevent burning. Remove and set aside.
  7. Melt the duck fat in the Dutch oven over medium heat, then cook the sausage, stirring frequently until brown – about 5 minutes.
  8. Remove the sausage and set aside, then add the duck legs and sear for about 1 minute per side. Remove and set aside.
  9. Add the garlic/onion puree and reduce heat to low. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring regularly and scraping any pieces of meat stuck to the bottom.
    Add the puree to the beans, along with the carrot, and mix until well coated.
  10. Transfer about one-third of the bean mix to the Dutch oven, enough to cover the bottom.
  11. Layer the pork belly over the beans, then the sausages.
  12. Finally, place the duck legs on top and cover with the remaining beans.
    Season with the nutmeg and a good grind of pepper.
  13. Add just enough stock to cover the beans. Reserve any remaining stock to add during the cooking process.
  14. Bake uncovered until the cassoulet comes to a simmer on the sides and a crust begins to form – about 40 minutes.
  15. Reduce heat to 150°C (300°F) and cook for 1 hour 45 minutes, checking regularly to break the crust with the back of a spoon and ensure that the cassoulet remains moist. Add stock or water if necessary.
  16. Remove the cassoulet from the oven and let it rest for 15 minutes before serving.
  17. Place the Dutch oven at the center of the table and serve family style.

Notes

© Sylvie Bigar 2022. Used with permission.

Recommended Products

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

did you make this recipe?

please leave a comment or review on the blog or share a photo and tag me on Instagram @eatlivtravwrite !

and, there’s MORE!

Win a copy of Sylvie Bigar’s Cassoulet Confessions

Head on over to Instagram and leave a comment on this post for your chance to win a copy of the book! Contest closes Friday, April 19th 2024!

Buy Cassoulet Confessions for yourself!

Cassoulet Confessions by Sylvie Bigar book cover.Buy Cassoulet Confessions on Amazon (this affiliate link should bring you to the Amazon store in, or closest to, your country). For free worldwide shipping, buy it on Blackwell’s. To support your local Indie bookstore, purchase on Bookshop.org.

Please note: This post contains affiliate links. I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.  This post also contains affiliate links from Blackwell’s and Bookshop.org. This means that if you click over and purchase something, I will receive a very small percentage of the purchase price (at no extra cost to you). Thank you in advance!

_________

Buy my books! In the French kitchen with kids and French Food for Everyone: le goûter  (after school snacks), le dîner (dinner) and le petit déjeuner (breakfast) are out now!

Click here for details and how to order!

_________

Like this post? Get blog posts delivered to your inbox! Sign up here!

 

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Skip to Recipe