Cassoulet! The ultimate winter comfort dish…and last night I received the ultimate compliment: “This is the best Cassoulet I have ever had- including what I had in Carcasonne”. And this was from a Frenchman. I have to admit it was indeed delicious, but that was less to do with my cooking skills and more to do with the face that I had a pile of delicious sausage/porkbelly/duck legs and bacon. I mean- how could it go wrong.
So what is the fascination with Cassoulet…it isn’t exactly ‘pretty’ food. You wouldn’t necessarily serve it up at a party where you were trying to show off or impress anyone with your amazing cooking skills. You would serve it up if you wanted a nice long evening with friends, lingering over one big pot of food at the centre of the table. The funny thing is for years I had this impression of Cassoulet being a terribly fussy, difficult dish. I guess there are some pretty heated discussions about what should be included in a Cassoulet (duck- yes/no, lamb yes/no, tomatoes yes/no, bread crumbs yes/no). I think it is something that you just make your own, but at the core it is simply a long cooked pot of white beans with pork…and anything else you think might work. It is also something that requires some pretty serious patience. My version cooked for about 6 hours at 12oC….then sat for about 30 minutes before we cracked the crust and dug in. Worth. Every. Bite.