I love beans of every variety! Green, garbanzo, pinto, kidney, lima...you name em, I love em. When I was a little girl, my mom would buy these cans of big, white lima beans that had little chunks of ham. I loved those, but haven't seen them on the shelves in years. Another childhood favorite of mine is Campbell's Bean with Bacon soup. Yum! Recently, I found some Rancho Gordo Flageoulet beans at the Farmer's Market and decided I'd make a nice Cassoulet on a chilly Winter night.
This delicious Cassoulet reminds me of sort of a cross between those two canned childhood favorites...but with a more grown-up twist. You really should use dried beans, preferably Rancho Gordo...I love those beans! You can also use whatever kind of meat you want. I prefer a selection of pork, but you could use chicken or even duck legs, if you want (but be sure to drain all the fat from the duck cuz thats just too greasy).
FYI, you will need to soak your beans overnight or do a quick soak in the morning (4-6 hours).
Here's the recipe! :)
1 pound dried Flagiolet, or any small white beans (canned beans will just disintegrate)
1/2 pound bacon
5 slices of good, uncured Canadian Bacon
4 uncooked, uncured sausages of any variety ( I used 2 Chorizo and 2 Italian Chianti)
1 sweet yellow onion, diced
2 carrots, chopped roughly
2 stalks of celery, sliced
6-8 cloves of garlic, sliced
2-3 sprigs each: sage, oregano, bay leaf (or whatever herbs you prefer)*
2 T tomato paste
1 can diced tomatoes
1 cup panko bread crumbs
2 T butter
Rinse your beans, check for pebbles. Place them in a large saucepan then cover with a good amount of cold water. Let them soak overnight or for 4-6 hours. I've never been a fan of the quick soak, but you could do that, too. (Google it)
When you are ready to begin the Cassoulet, preheat the oven to 400. Cook the bacon in a large sauce pan or Dutch Oven until crispy, set aside. Brown the Canadian Bacon, set aside. Brown the sausages on all sides. I do the pork in separate batches so they brown evenly, but you could throw it all in together if you want. Drain the oil out of the pan. Put all meat back into the pan. Add the veggies and herbs to the pot, give it a stir and let them cook until softened, about 10 minutes.
Add the tomato paste, stir, add the canned tomatoes and the drained beans. Add enough water to cover the beans, bring to a boil. Cover the pot and place it in the oven. Cook for 45 minutes, check to see if you need to add more water (I did), then cook for 45 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and cayenne pepper or hot sauce if you like it spicy. Remove the herbs, if you wish. I didn't wish. ;)
Spread the panko bread crumbs over the top of the Cassoulet then dot with butter. Put the uncovered pot back into the oven for about 15 minutes until its nice and golden.
Enjoy! Makes excellent leftovers!!!
*I like to be flexible with my ingredients. There are no rules that say you HAVE to use every ingredient exactly to the letter. If you don't like celery, use bell pepper...or omit it. If you don't like sage, use parsley! You could use chicken broth instead of water, if you want. Get the idea? :) Just be flexible and have fun.
**This recipe is loosely adapted from the Amateur Gourmet blog**