RISE & SHINE KAUT43 OKC
Taking this week on the In The Kitchen With Scotty cooking segment back to France and knocking out a wonderful, hearty and delicious meal called Cassoulet!
So what is it? Well, it’s basically what I consider the original “Beanie Weenies”. In France, and mainly the south of France where this delicious dish hails from, cassole refers to a large earthenware bowl with slanted sides. Way back in the day the cassole were filled with all kinds of good stuff like pork, pork skins, Toulouse sausages, fresh herbs, and lots of creamy white “cassoulet” beans. A traditional cassoulet would have also included confit duck (confit: cooked in its own fat) or confit goose. Pile all these ingredients into the earthenware bowl, slow cook in an oven while you did your thing our in the fields, and BOOM! Dinner was served, loaded with lots of protein and fat to keep you going the rest of the day.
Fast forward to 2018 Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Cassoulet can still be made today with or without the Toulouse sausages and confit duck; That is the beautiful thing about this dish…improvise! Now I know some true diehard foodies (and the French) will scoff at the idea of only using authentic ingredients, and I totally get that… kind of. But what a way to celebrate the culture and history of the south of France than making die with ingredients readily available to you. Plus Julia Child herself even scoffed at the idea of having t use traditional ingredients in the cassoulet proclaiming “use what ingredients you have and enjoy the experience!”. Julia didn’t really say that I’m paraphrasing, but she kind of did.
Okay, so let's get down to my version of this French classic. It may seem to be laborious, it may seem technical, but with all things great and delicious…. It is. Just have patience, stop worrying about the calorie and fat grams (unless you absolutely have to for health reasons. Don’t go having a coronary and telling your doctor that I said not to worry about fat grams). Do all of the prep and have everything ready (mise en place) and enjoy the cassoulet experience! Bon Appétit!
Scotty’s Cassoulet (Serves 5-6)
2 cups any dry white beans, rinsed and soaked in cold water overnight. (I used Cannellini beans)
2 quarts (8 cups) unsalted chicken stock
2 roasted (skin-on) chicken thighs, Crispy skin chopped and meat shredded off the bones
4- 6”smoked sausage links (I used Andouille. Kielbasa can be used )
1 pound whole smoked pork chop on the bone or cubed ham
1 pound smoked pork neck-bone or ham hocks
1 cup yellow onion, diced
1 cup carrots, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
3 cloves fresh garlic, smashed and chopped
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup dry white wine
Bouquet Garni: fresh thyme, parsley, rosemary, and Bay leaf bundled into a bouquet
In the Kitchen With Scotty “Cook’s Line Seasoning” as needed (or salt and black pepper)
Olive Oil as needed
3 cups Plain Bread Crumbs
Start cooking your soaked white beans. Add them to a large pot and pour in the chicken stock. Season the beans with a few large pinches of Cook’s Line Seasoning or salt to taste. Add to the pot the smoked pork chop or ham, the smoked pork neck-bone or ham hocks, and the bouquet garni. If you do not have access to fresh herbs for the bouquet garni, you may use dry. Other stuff the dry herbs into a tea ball or bundle them up into a tied up cheesecloth. Like a sachet. Begin to heat the beans slowly and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to a low simmer, cover, and cook the beans until almost “done”. Depending on the beans you use check after 30 minutes of covered simmering.
While the beans are cooking grab a large size skillet. Add a glug or two of the olive oil and begin to heat on the stove. Add your smoked sausages to the pan and brown. Pierce the sausage to keep them from bursting open while browning. Once browned, removed the sausages to a plate, pour out the flavorful oil from the pan and be sure to reserve that oil. We will need it later!
In the same skillet add another glug or two of the olive oil. Begin to heat and then add the onion, carrot, and celery (the mirepoix). Sauté the mirepoix, making sure to scrape up all of the sausage remnants from the bottom of the pan. Add the chopped garlic and cook in until fragrant and tender.
To the cooked mirepoix add the three tablespoons of tomato paste. Mix in and cook for 10 minutes. Deglaze the pan by pouring in the white wine. It will bubble and steam and that’s okay! Again, scape up all that deliciousness from the bottom of the pan, because that is packed with deep flavor. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Once your beans are tender but not fully soft and creamy, place a large colander over a bowl. Pour out the beans and bones. Discard your bouquet garni and any bones or stems… leaving behind MEAT! If you used a smoked pork chop or whole pieces of ham, go ahead and pull/shred that meat back into the beans. Why did we pour out the beans over a bowl? To reserve the cooking liquid! We will need this flavorful bean stock later!
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. In a large ovenproof dutch-oven, high sided pan, or large casserole dish, pour out the cooked mirepoix mixture and layer it evenly in the bottom of that pan. Next, pour in your cooked beans and make another even layer.
On top of the bean layer, sprinkle the top with the shredded chicken thigh meat and chopped crispy skin. Next cut the browned sausages in half (you will have 8 pieces) and nuzzle those into the beans. Then your last step before cooking is to use the reserve bean stock and ladle into the pan, just enough that liquid comes to the top of the beans.
Place the whole cassoulet into the oven and cook for one hour. While the cassoulet is cooking lest Strat making the breadcrumb topping
In a large fry pan (Sure use the same one from before!) pour in the reserved smoke sausage cooking oil. To that add 5 tablespoons of butter (Don’t forget this is FRENCH recipe haha) and begin to heat on low to melt the butter. Turn off the heat and add the breadcrumbs, stirring in to combine. You should have enough melted butter and oil for the breadcrumbs to look like wet sand. If not add more butter and olive oil. Add a little of the reserved bean stock to moisten the crumbs. This will help them to not brown as fast while in the oven.
After one hour of the cassoulet in the oven remove the pan carefully. Lower the oven temp to 300 degrees. Spread the breadcrumbs on top of the cassoulet in a nice even layer. With the end of a wooden spoon or whatever you have handy, make a vent through the center of the cassoulet, all the way to the bottom of the pan. Carefully pour in more of the bean stock to replace what was absorbed during cooking. Pour enough to once again repack the top of the pan. Carefully put the beans back into the oven and cook an additional one hour!
Check the cassoulet after 30 minutes. If the breadcrumb topping is looking too brown, like it is burning, go ahead and loosely place a sheet of aluminum foil over the top. Remove the foil the last 15 minutes fo cooking.
Once cooked, remove the cassoulet from the oven and let it rest a good 20 minutes before serving. Serve the whole thing family style or dish out individual portions. YOU DID IT!!!