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La Belle Cuisine - More Main Dish Recipes

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Fine Cuisine with Art Infusion

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Gigi's Cassoulet

 

 

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Gigi’s Cassoulet

"This is a rich combination of beans baked with meats, as much a part of Southwestern France as Boston Baked Beans are of New England. This
recipe makes no attempt to cut corners, for the concoction of a good cassoulet
is a fairly long process. It can be prepared in one day, but two or three days of leisurely on-and-off cooking make it easier. Feel free to use any variety of meat
that suits your fancy. Many recipes call for either duck or goose in addition
to pork and/or lamb.
Any or all of the steps leading up to final assembly of the cassoulet may be
carried out at various times. The assembled cassoulet may be refrigerated
and baked a day or two later."

The Beans:
5 cups dry white beans, such as Great Northern
1/2 pound salt pork rind
1 pound lean salt pork, simmered 10
minutes in 2 quarts water
1 cup sliced onions
Salt
Bouquet Garni: 8 parsley sprigs, 4 unpeeled cloves garlic, 2 whole
cloves, 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled, 2 bay leaves (tied together
in cheesecloth)

Bring 5 quarts water to boil in a 8-quart kettle. Add beans, bring rapidly
back to boil and boil 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let beans soak 1
hour.
Meanwhile, place salt pork rind in saucepan with 1 quart water, bring to
boil and boil 1 minute. Drain; rinse in cold water and repeat the process. Then, with shears, cut rind into strips 1/4 inch wide; cut strips into small triangles. Place again into saucepan, add 1 quart water and simmer very slowly for 30 minutes; set saucepan aside.
As soon as beans have soaked 1 hour, add salt pork, onions, bouquet
garni and pork rind with its cooking liquid to kettle. Bring to simmer,
skim off any scum and simmer slowly, uncovered, for about 1 1/2 hours
or until beans are just tender. Add boiling water, if necessary, to keep
the beans covered during cooking. Season to taste with salt near end of
cooking. Leave beans in cooking liquid until ready to use.

The Pork:
 2 1/2 pounds boned pork roast (loin or
shoulder), excess fat removed
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika

Use a small spice grinder or a mortar and pestle to grind and mix the peppercorns, salt, bay leaf, thyme leaves, and paprika. Rub the spice
mixture all over the surface of the roast. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate
for at least 8 hours, and up to 48 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the pork on a rack in a shallow roasting pan and roast to an internal temperature of 170 degrees F. This
will probably take close to an hour. Set aside, reserving cooking juices.

The Lamb:
[We sometimes substitute veal or beef.]
2 1/2 pounds boned shoulder of lamb
3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound cracked lamb bones
2 cups minced onions
4 cloves garlic, crushed
6 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
2 bay leaves
2 cups dry white Vermouth
3 cups beef stock, or low-sodium beef broth
1 cup water

Cut the lamb into 2-inch chunks. Dry thoroughly and brown a few pieces
at a time in very hot oil in a Dutch oven. Remove meat to a side dish,
brown the bones, remove them and brown onions lightly. Drain out the browning fat, return meat and bones to pan and stir in garlic, tomato
paste, thyme, bay leaves, Vermouth and beef stock. Bring to simmer,
season lightly with salt and pepper, cover, and simmer slowly for 1 1/2
hours. Discard bones and bay leaves, skim off fat, and season carefully
with salt and pepper to taste.

Homemade Sausage Cakes:
[Purchased sausage can be substituted if you prefer.]
1 pound (2 cups) lean ground pork
1/3 pound (2/3 cup) fresh-ground pork fat
2 teaspoons salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Large pinch ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground bay leaf (or finely crumbled)
1 small clove garlic, mashed
1/4 cup Cognac

Beat all ingredients together; form into cakes 2 inches in diameter and
1/2 inch thick. Brown lightly in skillet and drain on paper towels.

Final Assembly:
2 cups dry breadcrumbs, made from dried French bread
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
3 tablespoons pork roasting fat or melted butter

Drain beans, being sure to save liquid. Discard the bouquet garni and cut
salt pork into 1/4-inch serving slices. Cut roast pork into 1 1/2- to 2-inch serving chunks. Choose an 8-quart casserole 5 to 6 inches high and arrange
a layer of beans on the bottom. Cover with a layer of lamb, pork, salt pork and sausage cakes. Repeat with layers of beans and meat, ending with a
layer of sausage cakes. Pour in lamb cooking juices, pork roasting juices
and sufficient bean cooking liquid to barely cover the top layer of beans.
Mix breadcrumbs and parsley together, spread over beans and sausage
cakes and drizzle on fat or butter. Set aside or refrigerate until ready for
final cooking.

Baking:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Bring casserole to simmer on top of
stove, then set it in the upper third of the preheated oven. When the
top has crusted slightly, in about 20 minutes, turn the oven down to
350 degrees F. Break the crust into the beans with back of spoon and
baste with liquid in casserole. Repeat several times as crust forms again,
but leave a final crust intact for serving. If the liquid becomes too thick,
add some additional bean cooking liquid. The cassoulet should bake
about 1 hour. Serves 12.
 

Featured Archive Recipes:
Gigi's Quick Cassoulet
Franks and Beans Cassoulet
(Todd English)

Rustic Meat and Bean Pot
(Rachael Ray)

 

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