Gastronomy  TV5MONDE's Recipe Book of Classic French Dishes: Cassoulet
09/03/201700:00 TV5MONDE

Every week, TV5MONDE shares ideas for weekend cooking with its fans and followers across our social media channels. This time, let’s make a Southern comfort food favourite, the Cassoulet!
 
We are big fans of homey dishes, and this one here is no exception. Originating form the south of France, this is a dish where white beans are slow-cooked, steeped in a rich mix of various meats. The name “cassoulet” gives a nod to the cassole, which is a deep, round pot (usually made from clay or ceramic) and is a type of cookware traditionally used to make this dish. 

As we're moving towards Spring where nights can still be cool and chilly, this is also a perfect time of the year for a hearty, rich and nutricious dish like this one!
 
The Languedoc region proclaims the cassoulet as one of its own creations, in particular sunny and scenic places like Toulouse, Carcassonne and Castelnaudary. The key ingredient to this dish is white beans. In terms of meat, different regions often differ. A common one is pork, especially pork skins. Sausages, duck, lamb or goose can be found as well.
 

Languedoc region
 
The cassoulet is actually often seen on supermarket shelves, where they’re available in cans and jars. It’s a cheap and hearty alternative to a meal especially for students living away from home. That being said, the cassoulet has had its fine moments in haute cuisine. At its core, however, this is a dish which was created for the household dining table.
 
Let’s get started! Do note that cooking beans take time, so be sure to make your lunch or dinner plans accordingly!
 
Prep time: about 30 minutes
Cook time: 1 to 2 hours
Level of difficulty: medium
Servings: 6 to 8
 

White beans are a key ingredient to this dish.

 
What you'll need:
  • 2 tbps walnut oil
  • 800g haricot beans
  • 1-2 onions, sliced or diced
  • 1-2 carrots
  • Small quantity of celery sticks 
  • 1 head of garlic 
  • 2-4 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 hock of ham (or similar quantity of pork pieces)
  • 2 confit duck legs and their fat (options include chicken thighs or breasts, bones and skin removed)
  • 500g pork belly or lamb breast, cubed
  • ** depending on the type of meats used, you may change the type of meats used. Be sure to substitute with similar quantity. Other options include chicken thighs or breasts (bones and skin removed), sausages, pork pieces etc.
  • 1 tbsp sun-dried tomato paste OR 2 tomatoes, diced (optional; tomatoes are not traditionally in this dish, but adds flavour and colour) 
  • 100~150ml of red wine (optional)
  • Seasoning (black pepper, pinch of chilli)
  • Orange or lemon zest
Note that recipes may vary, so do the type of meats used. 

The how-to:
  1. Prepare the beans by soaking them overnight. Be sure to rinse and pick out bad beans. Discard the water.
  2. Put all the beans in a pot, cover by cold water and bring to a boil. Once it’s boiling for a few minutes, put the lid on, turn off the heat and set aside for an hour.
  3. While the beans are getting cooked, cut the onion into slices or dices. Make the slices thicker if you don’t want to eat onions in your every bite. Slice the carrots and celery into sticks. If you like it diced – go ahead! 
  4. Slice the garlic – if you’re not a big fan, used slightly fewer cloves, or cut them into thicker slices.
  5. Add the bay leaf, onion, garlic, carrots, celery and thyme into the pot.
  6. Prepare the meats. Cut them up if you prefer cubes or dices. For bigger meat pieces like chicken breast or duck, be sure to give it a few slices so the flavour will steep.
  7. In a saucepan or pan, slightly brown the meats first. This will help remove excess fat and will also speed up your process. You may also brown the garlic in this same step; it’ll enhance the flavour.
  8. Once the meats are slightly browned, put the beans, onions, carrots, celery, thyme, garlic and the meat together into a large saucepan or deep pot. 
  9. Those who like tomatoes may add their tomatoes paste or dices now. 
  10. Add water to the whole mixture until they are covered. Bring to a boil.
  11. Take the pot off the stove and bake it in the oven, until the beans are tender. Do not cover your cookware. Stir every hour.
  12. Once the beans are creamy and soft, you should see the glaze and juices in a thicker consistency.
  13. Depending on your oven, you might need to leave it in longer than 2 hours. 
Serve in bowls or a deep dish; sprinkle on chopped parsley, orange zest and ground pepper. Garnishes are all optional, so get creative and enjoy!
 

Bon Appétit!
TV5MONDE is the world's cultural TV network in French. It is broadcasted in French and offers a wide variety of exclusive subtitled primetime films, world-class sports events, high-quality documentaries, kids’ programs, cooking and design lessons, as well as exciting game shows and in-depth coverage of international news. With a network of 10 channels reaching 265 million homes worldwide on all platforms and over-the-top, and localized programming subtitled in 12 languages, TV5MONDE reaches the world’s business and cultural elite as well as the vast global community of Francophiles.

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