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« An Almost Perfect Day | Just Because We're Living in a Trailer... »

I Am; Therefore I Cook.../Cassoulet


I am determined that I can cook everything in the travel trailer that I cook at home. I said cook, not bake. I haven’t tackled baking yet. We’ve become friendly with a Canadian couple who are Full-timers. They live in a large motor home and follow the sun. Last week, friends of theirs who also have a motor home drove down from Toronto. We planned a dinner for the six of us. I said I’d do main course and salad if they’d do pre-dinner nibbles, bread and dessert. Cassoulet is a nice, easy dinner. Unfortunately, the dutch oven I usually make it in is too big for the trailer’s teeny oven. I turned to my new best friend, the crock pot. Actually, the only thing I did differently was to toss everything into the crock pot rather than the dutch oven and bake. This meal serves 6-8. The meal was a huge hit.  The Canadians loved it.
1 lb dried white beans (I use Cannellini)
1.5 lbs sausages (I used Johnsonville Bit O’ Garlic Irish Sausages as I cannot find French garlic sausages here)
1.5 lbs (all together NOT each) lamb and pork stew chunks
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 or 4 gloves garlic, minced
2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1-14oz can chicken broth
bouquet garni (I use 2 small pre-made ones)
1/2 cup bread crumbs
salt & pepper
Rinse beans.  Cover with cold water and bring to a boil.  Boil for 10 minutes.  Drain.  Again cover with water, bring to a boil and boil for 30 minutes or so until just tender.  Remove beans with slotted spoon and set aside.  Save bean cooking liquid.
Prick sausages, cook in large frying pan until very well browned, remove and remove all but a little grease to cook stew meat in; reserve grease
cook stew meat in same pan until well browned, remove.

Add onion and garlic,  brown, stir in tomatoes, cook 2-3 minutes...Add
broth, bring to a boil,  skim off fat if necessary.

Spoon 1/3 of beans (use slotted spoon to remove bean cooking
water) into large casserole dish, top with 1/3 of meat and vegetable.
Continue  layering ending with bean layer.
Pour broth over top and tuck in bouquet garni.  Add enough bean juice to just cover if needed.  Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 2 hours.  Uncover, sprinkle with breadcrumbs, bake
20 minutes more or until browned. 
OR… all in crock pot, cover and cook on high 1 hour. Turn to low and cook 5-6 hours. Uncover, sprinkle top with breadcrumbs, cook on high 20 minutes longer.
**Cook's Note:
This is basic peasant food.  In France, it is often take-out food in small villages.  The charcuteries (butcher shops) will sell hot cassoulets in stoneware covered pots.  A small deposit is paid on the pot and refunded when it is cleaned and returned.  This is how and where I disovered cassoulet.  It doesn't matter which sausages are used nor which chunked meat, beef, lamb, veal.  Every recipe is just a framework for the cook's creativity, the fresh ingredients at hand or in season and the grocery budget.  This I believe, don't you?

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