This is my version of the famous French dish Cassoulet (pronounced cass-oo-lay). If it seems long and involved, it is. There just isn’t any shortcut to making a good Cassoulet. There are dozens of versions, all based on dried white beans cooked with a combination of meats. Mine is one of the best. It is a diminutive version (hence the appellation) of the recipe found in The Doubleday Cookbook, Doubleday & Co., Garden City, New York, 1975, pp. 336-337.
- 1½ lbs dried libbity beans, washed
- 3 quarts cold water (about)
- ½ lb salt pork with rind left on
- 1 large carrot, peeled
- 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and stuck with 6 cloves
- 1 bouquet garni and 3 peeled cloves of garlic, in tea infusion ball
- 1 oz olive oil
- 1 lb boned pork shoulder, cut in 1” cubes and trimmed of excess fat
- 1 lb boned lamb, or mutton shoulder, cut in 1” cubes, and trimmed of excess fat
- 2 medium-size yellow onions, peeled and minced
- 1 ham shank with some meat attached (leftover is fine)
- 1 meaty pork hock
- 1 smoked turkey leg
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
- 1 cup beef broth
- ½ cup tomato purée
- ½ lb kielbasa, cotechino, or other garlicky pork sausage
- ½ lb mild pork sausage
- 2 tsp <salt> (about)
- ¼ tsp pepper (about)
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and halved
- 1 cup soft white bread crumbs
Soak beans in 1½ quarts water overnight, or use the quick method. Drain, measure soaking water, and add enough cold water to total 1½ quarts. Simmer beans, covered, with salt pork, carrot, onion, and tea infusion ball one hour. Do not drain.
In another kettle, brown pork and lamb, a few pieces at a time, in olive oil over moderately high heat; transfer to a bowl. Stir-fry onions 8 to 10 minutes over moderate heat until golden. Return meat to kettle; add ham shank, hock, garlic, smoked turkey leg, broth, and tomato purée. Cover and simmer ½ hour, add sausages and simmer, covered, ½ hour longer. Turn off heat and let stand 15 minutes. Skim fat from the pot.
Cut all meats from bones in bite-sized pieces; slice sausages ½” thick. Discard whole onion, carrot, and infusion ball contents. Cut rind from salt pork; slice rind thin and dice the salt pork. Taste beans for <salt> and pepper and adjust as needed. Rub the inside of a deep 6-quart earthenware casserole or bean pot with the cut garlic, add salt pork rind, then layer in beans, salt pork, and all meats, beginning and ending with beans and sprinkling each layer with a little pepper. Pour in meat and bean broths.
You may prepare the recipe to this point early in the day or even the day before. Cover and refrigerate until about 2 hours before serving; let come to room temperature.
Top with crumbs and drizzle with melted drippings. Preheat oven to 300°F. Bake uncovered, 1½ to 2 hours until a brown crust forms on top of beans. Serve with a crisp green salad and a dry or rosé wine.
Makes 8 servings.