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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Quick and Dirty Cassoulet

Years ago, when Ted still cooked occasionally, he embarked on a huge cooking project.  Ted made a traditional cassoulet.  This may not sound impressive, but believe me, it was.  I was there and it was pretty damn impressive.  (As I recall, it was also stinky and messy but let's just focus on the impressive part.)

Making the cassoulet was a multi day affair.  There was the rendering of the duck fat to prepare the duck confit, then the waiting, the soaking of the beans, and then more waiting.  And then finally the cooking.  As I said.  It's not something you can just whip up if you want to do it right.  Ted is nothing if not a stickler for doing it right.

I'm not quite so rigid.  This is probably because I have to cook dinner every night and Ted gets to do an occasional "cooking project".  He can afford to be a stickler.  I have to be efficient.

So when I saw a recipe for a cassoulet like bean and sausage dish I jumped at it.  I'm not that big a duck confit fan anyway so I was glad to see that this recipe was a quick and dirty version of the French classic.  And I'm all for quick and dirty.

I used  French style turkey garlic sausages.  They were the perfect balance for the creamy beans.  In addition, I made fresh bread crumbs to top the casserole and browned it under the broiler for 2 minutes just to add a little crunch at the end.  Either way, while this quick version lacks the complexity of "real cassoulet", it's very satisfying on a cold winter night.

Recipe:  Cassoulet-Style Italian Sausages and White Beans
(Posted By smellslikehome On September 27, 2010)

Cassoulet-Style Italian Sausages and White Beans
source: Pam Anderson, Perfect One-Dish Dinners


2 1/2 lbs sweet Italian sausage links (I used turkey sausages)
3 pints cherry tomatoes
1 medium-large onion, cut into 1 1/2″ chunks
4 large garlic cloves, sliced
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp dried thyme
3 bay leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cans (about 16 oz each) white beans (cannellini), undrained
6 slices bread, crusts removed
2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley
1 clove garlic


Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 425 degrees F.

In the bowl of a food processor, process the bread, parsley, and garlic.  Set aside.

Mix sausages, tomatoes, onion, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, thyme, bay leaves, and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper in a large heavy roasting pan.  Set pan in oven and roast until sausages are brown and tomatoes have reduced to a thick sauce, about 45 minutes.  Remove from oven, stir in beans, and continue to roast until casserole has heated through, about 10 minutes longer.  Fish out bay leaves.

Sprinkle reserved bread crumbs over the top of the casserole and transfer to the broiler for 2 minutes or until golden brown.  Watch it carefully.  It will brown quickly.

Serve immediately.

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