Soulful “Cassoulet” with a cauliflower gratin

November 11, 2008 at 10:28 pm | Posted in Dinner | 4 Comments

This months’ Cook’s Country had a feature on a turkey cassoulet which got me thinking… This is definitely a lazy sunday cozy kind of meal! BUT I got my recipe from a real French source of inspiration, Paris Bistro Cooking, which my original foodie gave me for my birthday last year! I have had this cookbook for nearly a year and a half and have never cooked from it, until Sunday! I paired the “cassoulet” with a cauliflower gratin based on the recipe from the lovely Ina Garten.

I would say the soulfully inspiring part of this meal was constructing the bouquet garni and slow cooking the beans and ribs with that and the mirepoix. There is something so fulfilling about using the simplest ingredients to give the most remarkable flavor to more simple ingredients!

Now let me preface this by saying my rendition of this french dish is not a completely authentic cassoulet recipe, because it has no duck! Don’t you worry- I love me some quack quackers πŸ˜›, but for budgets sake and possibly mental (in terms of doing a confit…by myself..), I omitted it!

Ingredients:

(These amounts give about 4 servings)
2 cans cannellini beans (I am a cheat! There was no Saturday planning involved in this meal…) or 2 lbs dried white beans
6 oz tomato paste
2 bouquets garni (1 sprig of parsley, thyme, 1 bay leaf, 1 celery stalk, tied in a square of cheesecloth)
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 medium carrots
3 medium onions, studded with a whole clove
1.5 lbs pork spare ribs, cut in 1 rib sections
2 tbsp flour
3/4 bottle white wine (I used alcohol removed Chardonnay from Wegmans (come on it was Sunday…)- don’t do this!)
s&p
1 lb pork sausages (weisswurst again!)
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
extra thyme leaves for the mix and thyme sprigs for garnish
My option out (for an 8 serving meal): 3 to 4 pieces goose confit, 4 lbs smoked goose or duck cut in 8 pieces, or 1 seasoned roasted 4 to 5 lb duck, cut in 8 pieces

1 (3-pound) head cauliflower, cut into large florets
Kosher salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, divided
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups hot milk
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
3/4 cup freshly grated Gruyere, divided
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs

Directions:

For the “cassoulet,”
1) Drain the beans, or in my case, rinse the beans thoroughly! In a pot, cover the beans with 3 inches of water. Stir in the tomato paste. Add 1 bouquet garni, 2 garlic cloves, 2 carrots, and 1 onion.
2) Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer gently about 1 hour until beans are tender but still firm. Drain and remove everything all ingredients except beans!
3) In a large, deep skillet over medium heat, brown the ribs on all sides in their own fat. Sprinkle with flour and turn the ribs until the flour is absorbed.
4) Add the wine and enough water to cover. Add the remaining bouquet garni, carrots, and onions. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer about 2 hours, until fork tender. Season with s&p.
5) Prick and brown sausages in a large skillet. Sprinkle lightly with s&p.
6) To assemble and bake, preheat oven to 325. Rub the side of a very large, high-sided casserole with the remaining garlic. Add half of the beans, arrange the meats evenly on the beans and sprinkle some thyme leaves, and then add the rest of the beans. Pour on the reserved pork cooking liquid.
7) Bake 1.5 hours. Each time a crust forms on the cassoulet, press it back into the casserole. Add water (or broth) if the mixture is dry. After 1 hour, sprinkle with crumbs. The cassoulet should emerge bubbling and crusted. Garnish each portion with a thyme sprig!

For the gratin,
1) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
2) Cook the cauliflower florets in a large pot of boiling salted water for 5 to 6 minutes, until tender but still firm. Drain.
3) Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the flour, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Pour the hot milk into the butter-flour mixture and stir until it comes to a boil. Boil, whisking constantly, for 1 minute, or until thickened. Off the heat, add 1 teaspoon of salt, the pepper, nutmeg, 1/2 cup of the Gruyere, and the Parmesan.
4) Pour 1/3 of the sauce on the bottom of an 8 by 11 by 2-inch baking dish. Place the drained cauliflower on top and then spread the rest of the sauce evenly on top. Combine the bread crumbs with the remaining 1/4 cup of Gruyere and sprinkle on top. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and drizzle over the gratin. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the top is browned. Serve hot or at room temperature.

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4 Comments »

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  1. WOWEE!

  2. i love your cauliflower gratin. you’ve taken a blahh veggie and turned it into a scrumptious meal. i would eat that by itself just fine.

  3. You go, girl! That is a major, delicious-looking Sunday dinner. And I’ll bet the cassoulet was even better the next day.

  4. Ooh cassoulet.. Fat and beans.. It’s been a really long time since I had this.


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