Queen Anne Cassoulet

Casseolet_DoneDishWhite beans are the centerpiece of cassoulet, and winter is a great time for cooking this hearty dish, but sometimes duck confit is just too much. And who has the time or patience to bake a dish for 4-5 hours?  We have streamlined the traditional recipe, brightened it with two kinds of kale, and eliminated the confit and breadcrumbs.

HEALTH BENEFITS of BEANS:

White Beans are full of protein and fiber and have a probiotic effect. The Diabetes, Cancer, and Heart Associations recommend weekly servings of beans to reduce the risk of a variety of chronic illnesses. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 2014 (referenced in Gut Balance Revolution). One cup cooked white beans contains 17 grams of protein, 11 grams of fiber, and only 249 calories. The fiber and protein in beans move through the digestive tract slowly so the impact of the carbs they contain  (45 grams per cup) is far less than for many other carbohydrate comparable foods. They contain anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds also found in asparagus (Gut Balance Revolution, p.118).
Cassoulet_beans
WHY NOT USE CANNED BEANS??
The difference between canned and pre-soaked dried beans you cook yourself cannot be overstated. In this recipe, the flavor and richness of the dish is achieved through soaking and cooking the beans in chicken and/or duck broth. Starting with your own dried beans also insures that your final product is not mushy and overcooked, or has too much salt. (Unsalted or low-salt beans can never really be adjusted with more salt as the proper amount of salt needs to be added while the beans are cooking.)  The

pre-soaked dried bean method also removes two of the compounds that contribute to flatulence. And, they are less expensive. Need I say more? No real extra work involved, just a bit of planning ahead.

CassouletRecipe_newTIMING:

This dish requires a light simmer of the cannellini beans in stock for 15 minutes the night before you plan to make the dish or early in the morning. The partially cooked beans are stored in broth in the refrigerator overnight or for at least 4 hours. They will then require a slow simmer of another 60-90 minutes to fully cook. After browning the onions and sausage, the assembled dish takes about an hour to bake in a 275-300 degree oven.
Active preparation time 30-40 min.

Bean time: 15 minute simmer, 4 hour or overnight soak, followed by a 60-90 minute simmer, then one hour at low temp in oven to cook with other ingredients.

DIRECTIONS:

Turn oven to 275-300 degrees 20 minutes before you are ready to assemble and bake the cassoulet.

Measure and rinse the white beans and place in pan, adding several cups of broth, enough to cover by an inch or two.  Bring to a soft boil and let simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off, let cool, and place in a container in the refrigerator with enough broth to allow for beans to expand–I leave about an inch or two. After beans have soaked, place them in a pan with their soaking broth and an additional 2 cups and simmer slowly. If you are using the bay leaves and thyme, they should also be added to the broth. Check every 20 to 30 minute to make sure there is enough broth, adding as you go. They soak up quite a bit.

Brown and cook sausage most of the way through (the sausage will then bake, so you don’t want them to dry out or be overcooked) on medium heat in a bit of oil. Slice onion and celery and, using the same pan, simultaneously sauté until the vegetables are just tender. If it is easier, do sausage and vegetables in separate pans.
Cassoulet PCC Sausages
Cassoulet Sasauge

Rinse the three bunches of kale (two curly and one lacinato), pat dry and remove coarse stems. Set the lacinato kale aside. Give a rough chop to the curly kale–about 1 inch pieces.

Slice the sausage into sections (I used about 3/4 inch).

Once the beans are cooked to the desired tenderness (they will not become more tender in the final cooking), remove from stove and take out the bay leaves and thyme sprigs, if used. Drain, but reserve, any extra liquid from beans for adding after assembly or during baking. Add one cup dry white wine and 3 cloves of chopped or pressed garlic to the beans and gently toss.

Assembly:

Place a generous layer of curly kale in the bottom of the Dutch oven. Then add 1/2 of the sausage and vegetables and half of the beans. Repeat with a second layer. Your dish will cook down but leave at least one to two inches at the top. Slowly pour two cups of broth from the beans, or additional broth you have, to the outside of the cassoulet. Place in the oven for 30 minutes. Check moisture level at that point and add more broth (it will probably need more more cup), again poorly slowly around the outside of the cassoulet if it is looking at all dry.Cassoulet Kale in Pot.jpg
Cassoulet layer in pot
Cassoulet in blue pot.jpg
After an hour, remove cassoulet from the oven. While it sets up, give lacinato kale a coarse chop and gently mix it in along with any curly kale that was left over. Squeeze the lemon and finish by slowly adding juice to taste. Adjust salt and add pepper, if desired.
Cassoulet Kale
Cassoulet small dishes

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s