In its most simple state, a cassoulet is a slow-simmering bean dish with little bits of meat or sausage. A mixture of meat adds depth, and the medley of sausages here (versus traditional large hunks of slow-cooking meats) speeds up the cook time without sacrificing flavor. Look for D'Artagnan sausages at specialty stores, or order online from dartagnan.com. Open some great red wine, and chase this course with a bitter green salad.
3 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, drained
1 (4-ounce) piece French bread baguette
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
How to Make It
Preheat oven to 325°.
Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add sausages; cook 6 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove sausages from pan using a slotted spoon; drain. Wipe pan with paper towels, leaving browned bits on bottom of pan. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion and next 5 ingredients (through salt); cook 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add wine and cognac; bring to a boil. Cook 10 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates, scraping pan to loosen browned bits.
Place thyme sprigs, bay leaves, and cloves on a double layer of cheesecloth. Gather edges of cheesecloth together; tie securely. Add cheesecloth bag, broth, beans, and tomatoes to vegetable mixture; stir to combine. Return sausages to pan; stir. Bring mixture to a boil, and remove from heat.
Place bread in a food processor; pulse 10 times or until fine crumbs measure 2 cups. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add crumbs to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until golden, stirring frequently. Sprinkle crumbs evenly over bean mixture. Bake at 325° for 40 minutes. Discard cheesecloth bag before serving.
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This was a difficult review for me to write as I would have loved to have tried the suggested sausages from D'Artagnon and I adore European food. However, after I priced the sausages with delivery, the dish would have been close to $40, which I think was unreasonable. That said, what I did was make it w/Emeril's garlic and artichoke sausage. I'll try it again w/Emeril's sun-roasted tomatoes. I also used (as I always do) Glenn Muir roasted tomatoes. However, I cut the bread crumb topping by half as one cup looked like it would work. As modified, I think it was a delicious dish and leftovers froze and reheated well. If I happen upon the sausages while on long-distance shopping trips (which are frequent--no gourmet stores out here--I'll try it as written. However, I would concur w/the others that modifications don't seem to harm the dish. But, dang, I'd really like to taste the real dish.
Such great comfort food! I feel sorry for the folks who haven't experienced this hearty, easy-to-make meal. Made with only a few alterations (sorry, here in the boonies, I'm not finding any duck sausages!) Thanks!
I simplified this recipe: I used turkey sausage instead of the mix suggested. I also reduced the quantity because I am not much of a meat eater. I sprinkled the stew with a Bavarian spice mix from Penzeys Spices. Moreover, not having a Dutch over, I prepared the stew in a large skillet and then poured it in a pan and placed it in the oven for the indicated cooking time. With all these modifications, it may or may not taste like the real thing. But it was a great dish, with a lot of flavor, quite easy to prepare and with all the right nutritional values. I will definitely make this again.
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