I don’t know how I managed to make it through 20-some years of life without trying cassoulet, but I have a feeling I’ll eat enough this fall and winter to make up for it. I made the one pictured here about two weeks ago, and I’ve been dying to have it again ever since. I actually have another one in the oven as I write this post.
Don’t let the fancy French name scare you off. When it comes down to it, cassoulet is nothing more than a white bean and tomato stew. A fragrant sauce flavored with fresh herbs cooks quickly on the stove before being mixed with the rest of the ingredients and baking in the oven. It’s pure stick-to-your-ribs comfort food full of rich and delicious flavors typical of the French countryside.
This dish takes a little longer to make than most of my recipes, requiring about 20 minutes of active time and an hour or so in the oven, but with a little planning it can definitely be made on a weeknight. Go ahead and make a big batch — it tastes even better the next day.
Traditional cassoulet uses duck or goose confit, but since that can be difficult to find (not to mention expensive!) I’ve taken the liberty of using turkey instead. I like the flavor that using some poultry gives the cassoulet, but you can leave it out and use only sausage just as easily.
- 2 links sweet Italian sausage, cut into rounds
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 ounce prosciutto, chopped (about 4 slices)
- 1 carrot, diced
- 6 plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary, chopped
- 2 springs fresh thyme, chopped
- 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 can Great Northern beans (or similar white beans)
- 4 ounces roasted turkey, chopped (dark meat is best)
- ¼ cup breadcrumbs
- 1 Tbs lemon zest
- 1 Tbs olive oil
- Heat oven to 350ºF.
- Place a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook through. Remove the sausage, leaving the drippings in the pan. Add the garlic and onion and cook in the sausage drippings until they begin to soften — about 5 minutes. Add the prosciutto and carrot and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, rosemary, thyme, and pepper flakes. Cook, stirring occasionally to help break down the tomatoes, for about 10 minutes. Stir in the beans.
- Spoon half of the tomato and bean mixture into a 3 quart casserole dish or dutch oven. Scatter the turkey and sausage over it, then top with the remaining beans. Sprinkle the bread crumbs and lemon zest over the top, then drizzle with olive oil.
- Bake for 60 minutes, or until the sauce is thick and the bread crumbs have browned (if necessary, you can put it under the broiler for 5 minutes at the end to help brown the breadcrumbs).
- Let sit for 15 minutes prior to serving.