Recipe Simplified Cassoulet With Pork And Kielbasa

TastyReuben

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SIMPLIFIED CASSOULET WITH PORK AND KIELBASA
Serves 8

Ingredients
Chicken
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup table salt
10 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, trimmed and skin removed (about 3 lbs)

Beans
1 pound dried flageolet or great Northern beans, picked over and rinsed
1 medium onion, peeled plus 1 small onion, minced
1 medium head garlic, outer papery skind removed and top 1/2 inch sliced off plus 2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon salt
Ground black pepper
6 ounces (about 6 slices) bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 (1-pound) boneless blade-end pork loin roast, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 (14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 large sprig fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
3 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1/2 pound kielbasa, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch slices

Croutons
6 slices high-quality white sandwich bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Directions
For the chicken: Dissolve the sugar and salt in 1 quart cold water in a gallon-size zipper-lock bag. Add the chicken, pressing out as much air as possible, seal the bag and refrigerate for 1 hour. Remove the chicken from the brine, rinse, and pat dry with paper towels. Refrigerate until ready to use.

For the beans: Bring the beans, the peeled onion, head of garlic, salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 8 cups water to a boil in a large Dutch oven over high heat. Cover, reduce the heat, to medium-low, and simmer until the beans are almost tender, 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours. Drain the beans; discard the onion and garlic.

While the beans are cooking, fry the bacon in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until just beginning to crisp, about 5 to 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, add half the bacon to the pot with the beans; transfer the remaining bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside. Increase the heat to medium-high and add half the chicken, skinned side down, cook until lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Flip the chicken thighs and cook until lightly browned on the second side, 3 to 4 minutes longer. Transfer the chicken to a plate, repeat with the remaining thighs and set aside.

Pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat from the pot. Return the pot to medium heat, add the pork pieces and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.

Add the minced onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the minced garlic, tomatoes, tomato paste, thyme, bay leaf, cloves, and pepper to taste and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the chicken broth and wine, scraping up any browned bits. Submerge the chicken in the pot, adding any accumulated juices, increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 40 minutes. Uncover and continue to simmer until the chicken and pork are tender, 20 to 30 minutes more.

For the croutons: while the chicken is simmering, adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the bread cubes with the melted butter and spread out over a rimmed baking sheet bake until light golden brown and crisp, 8 to 12 minutes. Cool to room temperature and set aside. Do not turn off the oven.

Gently stir the kielbasa, drained beans, and reserved bacon into the pot with the chicken and pork; remove and discard the thyme and bay leaf and season with pepper to taste. Sprinkle the croutons evenly over the surface and bake, uncovered, until the croutons are deep golden brown, about 15 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes and serve.

Recipe courtesy of America's Test Kitchen.

Notes: even though the title says simplified, this is a fairly long recipe to prepare, so don't expect this to be a 30-minute meals cassoulet. It also dirties a lot of dishes (in true ATK fashion).

The flavor, though, is excellent; very rich. A single bowl goes a very long way.


 

morning glory

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I think the 'simplified' probably relates to the fact that chicken is used rather than duck confit? Not that duck confit is at all complicated - in fact is one of the simplest 'gourmet' things I know, to make - its a longer process than cooking the chicken though.
 

TastyReuben

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I think the 'simplified' probably relates to the fact that chicken is used rather than duck confit? Not that duck confit is at all complicated - in fact is one of the simplest 'gourmet' things I know, to make - its a longer process than cooking the chicken though.
Yes, in part because of substituting chicken and bacon for the duck confit. I'll go back to the notes later and read the whole bit, but I do remember reading something along the lines that a traditional cassoulet "can take up to three days to make," so I'll check to see if they detail that.

This is only the second time I've made cassoulet, and I do know the other one was a Food Network version, years ago, that was also meant to be a quick(er) version as well, so I suppose cassoulet has a reputation of being long and laborious. If so, this one was slightly less long, though still laborious. :)
 

morning glory

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I suppose cassoulet has a reputation of being long and laborious.
I've never thought of it as laborious. Long maybe due to making confit duck beforehand. But that makes itself. It really does & is completely foolproof IMHO. The rest is just like making any slow cooked 'stew' really. Using tinned beans would make it easier.
 

TastyReuben

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Here's their intro blurb:

Comforting and delectable as it is, cassoulet is just too much trouble for most cooks. It can take three days to make, and the ingredients can be both hard to find and difficult to prepare. We wanted to see if there was a way to streamline the preparation of this dish without compromising its essential character.

Instead of duck confit, which is difficult to find and time-consuming to prepare, we brined the chicken thighs and cooked them in bacon fat to simulate the smoky flavor and moist texture of the confit. With our mock confit lined up, the other elements fell into place. We decided on the flavorful, fatty blade-end pork roast for stewing, dried beans instead of canned beans (canned beans were out because they fell apart during cooking), and smoky kielbasa for the sausage component (the classically correct French sausage was too hard to find). We cooked the beans with onion and garlic to season them, then added some crisp bacon to infuse them with a salty smokiness. Cooking the dish entirely on the stove at a slow simmer, with a quick finish to brown our homemade croutons, gave us a quick and easy cassoulet that was worthy of the name.
--America's Test Kitchen

It seems simplified applies a bit to the process (making an easier confit) and to getting the ingredients (using readily-available supermarket kielbasa).

Like I mentioned before, I've never made a "traditional" cassoulet, but even this streamlined one pushes it for both the long and the laborious aspects for me. I started at 2PM and didn't leave the kitchen to sit down until 5:30PM, which is really my limit. Were I to do this one again, I'd prep the the chicken the day before, and probably do the beans the day before, but then we're back to a two-day cassoulet. 🤷🏻‍♂️
 

TastyReuben

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Sounds fascinating. I'm not sure when I will get around to making this, maybe some snowed-in long weekend or such. It does sound good.
I can say, it's very good, like virtually every ATK recipe I've ever made. Just plan accordingly.

I was laughing to myself because this morning, while I was typing up their intro notes for my response above, I noticed I've made both their traditional French onion soup and their "streamlined" French onion soup.

Next to the traditional one, I wrote, "This is very good, though time-consuming. Start early in the day, or even the day before."

What do I have next to the streamlined one? "What the hell? This took me just as long as the other one!" :laugh:
 

morning glory

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Instead of duck confit, which is difficult to find and time-consuming to prepare, we brined the chicken thighs and cooked them in bacon fat to simulate the smoky flavor and moist texture of the confit.
Hmmm - since when has confit duck tasted smoky?

Like I mentioned before, I've never made a "traditional" cassoulet, but even this streamlined one pushes it for both the long and the laborious aspects for me. I started at 2PM and didn't leave the kitchen to sit down until 5:30PM, which is really my limit. Were I to do this one again, I'd prep the the chicken the day before, and probably do the beans the day before, but then we're back to a two-day cassoulet. 🤷🏻‍♂️
Making confit duck takes two days but the time you spend in the kitchen is a matter of minutes - seriously. Its absolutely worth doing - just use two duck legs (I can buy them really quite cheaply - its breasts which are expensive). Otherwise the only ingredients are salt and duck or goose fat. Confit duck can be used in other ways - not only for cassoulet.

Here is a recipe I posted before I started taking food photos: Recipe - Simplest Duck Confit with lentils or beans (for Bastille Day)

Tinned beans could be added towards the end cooking the cassoulet which wold save considerably on labour.
 

TastyReuben

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Its absolutely worth doing - just use two duck legs (I can buy them really quite cheaply - its breasts which are expensive).
For a start, duck isn't that easy to find here. I certainly can't get it at my local Kroger (or the bigger Kroger 40 minutes away).

I can get it from the specialty shop, but I have to order it, so that's two trips, 45 minutes each way, or I can drive an hour each way to one of the butchers downtown, pay for parking, all that jazz, and get one. That might be part of the "simplified" they're talking about. :)
 

morning glory

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For a start, duck isn't that easy to find here. I certainly can't get it at my local Kroger (or the bigger Kroger 40 minutes away).

I can get it from the specialty shop, but I have to order it, so that's two trips, 45 minutes each way, or I can drive an hour each way to one of the butchers downtown, pay for parking, all that jazz, and get one. That might be part of the "simplified" they're talking about. :)
Ah - OK. Sorry but I didn't realise. Its really easy to get duck here. Most big supermarkets have it and its not expensive. You can, however, confit chicken using the same method. In France, confit duck is sold ready-made and from looking at French recipes for Cassoulet that is what most French people seem to use.
 

TastyReuben

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Ah - OK. Sorry but I didn't realise. Its really easy to get duck here. Most big supermarkets have it and its not expensive. You can, however, confit chicken using the same method. In France, confit duck is sold ready-made and from looking at French recipes for Cassoulet that is what most French people seem to use.
Isn't it interesting, in this day and age, how many items are still so regional? You know, if some rich mucky-muck from, say, 1529 walked into even a modest grocery store from today's time, he'd probably mess his leggings at the variety available to the average person just in their local market. And yet, something like duck, at an hour away, more or less, is too much trouble for me. :)

Thinking about it, though, I can still probably get 98% of whatever the world has to offer, just through the internet.

Wednesday musings...don't mind me...
 

TastyReuben

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morning glory - you (and others) might find this interesting, from the US Dept Of Agriculture:


How much duck and goose are consumed annually in the United States?

Jul 17, 2019

Today Americans consume about .34 (1/3 pound) of duck per person yearly, down from .44 pound in 1986. Consumption of goose is less.
 
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