A cassoulet with shortcuts.

Cassoulet is a French classic dish. So important in certain parts of France that there’s even a society in the dishes honour, the Academie Universelle du Cassoulet, which determines whether your cassoulet is truly authentic (they have some fetching costumes to boot).

Cassoulet is a casserole of sorts made from white beans, and various meats, both cured and fresh, depending on the area you find yourself in. It’s peasant food at it’s best, slow cooked and hearty, perfect for a cold winter’s night.

I have made a version of the real thing before, which took the better part of a weekend to prepare and fed a small army of people. It was delicious, but not the most practical dish to make on a school night for your family.

So I’ve messed with it. Reduced the variety of meat products, used canned beans and therefore the cooking time.

And of course, featured L’Authentique’s amazingly authentic Toulouse sausages, without which this would not be a cassoulet at all, just beans.

SHORT CUT CASSOULET STYLE BEANS WITH TOULOUSE SAUSAGES

2017-06-23 10.09.32 v12 tablespoons olive oil
4 rashers streaky bacon
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely diced
2 sticks celery, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
400g tinned crushed tomatoes
Bouquet garni of bayleaf, thyme and parsley tied together with string
500ml chicken stock
2 x 400g tinned cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
Salt/pepper to taste
Bunch parsley, leaves chopped
8 L’Authentique Toulouse sausages
1 cup breadcrumbs or half stale baguette, cut into 5mm slices
2 tablespoons melted butter or duck fat

  1. Heat oven to 200ÂșC.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large oven proof casserole dish over a medium/high heat. Add bacon and cook until well browned and crisp.
  3. Reduce heat to medium. Add onion, carrot, celery and garlic and cook until onion is soft, but not browned.
  4. Pour over tinned tomatoes and add bouquet garni. Bring to the boil and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated and the tomatoes are starting to thicken.
  5. Pour over chicken stock and beans, stir to combine, bring to the boil and cook uncovered for 20 minutes.
  6. Remove bouquet garni, season to taste and stir through chopped parsley.
  7. Remove from heat, submerge sausages in the beans, and either sprinkle over breadcrumbs, or layer sliced baguette to cover the cassoulet. Drizzle with melted butter or duck fat, then bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until top is golden and sauce bubbling.
  8. Remove from oven and serve.
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Salad of the week: Salmon Nicoise

This salad came about as a result of having some smoked salmon in the fridge which I’d forgotten about. Never a great thing. Luckily it was still within it’s use by date, so with the addition of a few extras, it became a quite delicious Friday night dinner. With the added advantage that everyone in our family ate it with relish. Even my notoriously picky son.

A traditional Nicoise salad includes anchovies. I left these out this time (more kid friendly), but have included them below for you to add if you like. I added capers for extra salt/zest, but up to you again whether you wish to or not.

SMOKED SALMON NICOISE SALAD2017-02-10 20.37.59 HDR v1.jpg
(serves 4)

6 new potatoes
150g fresh green beans, top and tailed
4 eggs
1 cos lettuce, washed and leaves torn
1/2 red onion finely sliced
1/4 telegraph cucumber, cut into 2cm cubes
1/2 punnet cherry tomatoes, sliced
12 pitted black olives (I used kalamata olives)
200g hot smoked salmon
handful fresh basil leaves

Dressing:
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
6 fresh basil leaves
salt/pepper

Optional:
1 Tbsp capers, and/or
6 whole anchovies (the best quality you can find)

  1. Cut potatoes in half, and boil in salted water until just cooked (about 10 minutes). Drain, refresh in cold water, drain again and set aside.
  2. Bring a pan of salted water to the boil. Add green beans and blanch until bright green (about 1 minute). Drain, refresh with cold water, drain again and set aside.
  3. Bring another pan of water to the boil. Remove from the heat, add whole eggs and boil for 7 minutes. Drain, cover with cold water to stop cooking and set aside.
  4. To make dressing, process all ingredients with a stick blender until emulsified.
  5. To make the salad, line a salad bowl with torn cos leaves. Top with onion, cucumber, tomatoes and potatoes.
  6. Remove skin from salmon and break into pieces. Place salmon on top of the salad.
  7. Top with green beans, olives and either capers or anchovies (or both).
  8. Peel shells from eggs and quarter. Top the salad with the eggs and toss over basil leaves.
  9. Pour over salad dressing and serve.