Kristine borrowed a version of cassoulet from Bob Waggoner, a classically trained chef known for his haute update of Lowcountry cuisine at Charleston Grill in Charleston, South Carolina. He puts a Southern spin on the homey French country dish cassoulet by replacing the usual duck or goose confit with three varieties of pork. Prep: 12 minutes; Cook: 3 1/2 hours; Stand: 15 minutes.
2 cups dried great Northern beans
10 cup chicken stock
3 pounds bone-in country-style pork ribs, trimmed
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 pound thick-cut applewood smoked bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 pound andouille sausage, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, diced
6 garlic cloves, chopped
6 large plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
1 bay leaf
How to Make It
Place beans in a medium bowl. Cover with water 2 inches above beans; let soak 8 hours. Drain.
Bring beans and chicken stock to a boil in a Dutch oven. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour or until beans are tender. Drain beans, reserving stock, and set beans aside. Return stock to pot, and bring to a boil over high heat; cook 20 minutes or until reduced to 4 cups. Set stock aside.
Remove meat from rib bones, reserving bones; cut meat into 1-inch pieces, and sprinkle with pepper and kosher salt.
Melt butter in an ovenproof Dutch oven. Working in 2 batches, cook rib meat 4 minutes or until browned. Remove from pot, and keep warm. Add bacon to pot; cook 7 minutes or until crisp. Remove from pot, and keep warm. Add sausage to pot; cook 4 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from pot, and keep warm. Return rib bones to pot; cook over medium-high heat 2 minutes per side or until lightly browned. Remove from pot, and set aside.
Reduce heat to medium; add onion, carrot, and garlic to pan, and sauté 7 minutes or until tender. Add tomato, thyme, and bay leaf; cook 3 minutes. Add reserved meats, and cook 2 minutes, stirring often, until thoroughly heated.
Place reserved rib bones on top of meat mixture. Top with reserved beans and stock. Bake, uncovered, at 300° for 1 hour and 40 minutes or until bubbly and beans are lightly browned and crisp. Let stand 15 minutes.
This is a delicious dish, but the recipe, as written, makes it sound more difficult than it needs to be. I've made this twice, once with pre-soaked white beans and once with canned white beans. Either one is fine, no need to do all that business with the chicken broth. Cook the bacon until crisp and brown the ribs and everything else in the bacon drippings--makes for a better flavor. I just brown the ribs whole, no need to cut out the bones and all that and use one large dutch oven to brown and bake. You can just dump everything in a slow cooker or put the dutch oven in the oven--I've done it both ways. The end result is a hearty, tasty meal with lots of meat. Simplify the steps and try it. It's a really good winter dish that I'll make again and again.
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