Sunday, April 3, 2011

Weekday Cassoulet

I have been wanting to make a cassoulet for a long time.  It is a traditional French, slow cooking bean stew.  My first place to look for a recipe was Julia Child's cookbook.  I read the whole recipe.  About 3 times, which is what you have to do to understand Julia's recipes.  I love them but they also drive me crazy.  Least concise recipes ever.  

Anyways, the recipe in Julia's cookbook for a real deal cassoulet literally takes 3 weeks to make.  And I am busy.  

I have had Melissa's version saved for a while now and I thought I would finally give it a try.  Bacon.  Beans.  Chicken.  Really simple stuff.  And a pretty quick meal.  Nothing like the traditional French recipe, but a tasty general idea.    

I didn't think this would be enough veggies, so I also made a side of brussels sprouts with some of the bacon from the cassoulet and sliced almonds.  Turns out, the cassoulet would be perfectly enough on its own.  But Scot does love these brussels sprouts.  He said he would give them "at least a 9/10".  I make something similar a lot.  Just sautéed brussels sprouts with bacon or bacon grease.  I added almonds this time but don't always.  

Weekday Cassoulet
recipe courtesy Melissa d'Arabian via Food Network

4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, cut in 1/2 through the bone
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound slab bacon, sliced into large lardons
1 large onion, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup white wine
2 cups cooked Northern white beans
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 tomato, sliced very thinly
Garlic Bread Crumbs, recipe follows
1 baguette, sliced, for serving

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Rinse and dry the chicken well and season with salt and pepper. Let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.

In a large Dutch oven, over medium-low heat, add the bacon and slowly render the fat. Remove the bacon to a plate when crispy, leaving the fat in the pan. Raise the heat to medium-high and add the chicken, skin side down. Brown the chicken on both sides and then remove to a plate. Add the onion, celery, carrots and garlic and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Deglaze the pan with white wine and reduce by half. Stir in the beans, bay leaf and thyme. Nestle the chicken thighs and bacon into the pot. Add the chicken stock, cover and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, remove the lid and top the cassoulet with sliced tomatoes and the Garlic Bread Crumbs. Return to the oven and bake, uncovered, 15 minutes longer. Serve the cassoulet with baguette slices.

Garlic Bread Crumbs

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
3 slices slightly stale or dried bread, pulsed into crumbs in food processor
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a small saute pan over low heat, add the oil and the garlic. Stir until the oil is fragrant, about 1 minute. Toss in the bread crumbs and cook until the bread crumbs start to turn golden, about 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and remove from heat.

(Servings: 4, Prep time: 30 min., Cook time: 40 min., Difficulty: Easy)

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste):  6/10
Scot (taste):  8/10
Effort:  3/5
Dishwashing Effort:  3/5

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