Monday, July 16

Cook My Books Challenge Three- Ole Cassoulet....?

This is the second version of this post, the first one disappeared off my laptop screen last night just as I was finishing it up………most annoying, especially as I still don’t know what I did

You may also need to forgive the pics, can I say it is quite tough to make Cassoulet look as good as it tastes, there is a lot of brown in that there pot. Duck, Pork Belly, Pork sausage and beans, this is a flavour packed dish, rich artery clogging meaty goodness, thankfully for your heart it is a treat and not for everyday…….

The book I have selected this week is Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles cookbook, based on recipes from his restaurant in New York city.  
I will be doing more than one recipe from this one as it is a fab book, and I cheated a bit on the Cassoulet. For some reason I have a mental bock when it comes to soaking legumes, so between that & neglecting to start the recipe 3 days early as instructed (?!) I ended up doing a sort of mash up of Les Halles, High Fearnly-Whittingstall & Rick Stein. This is a very traditional dish, so there will be as many interpretations as there are chefs, this is mine. I am actually pretty happy with this dish, I dont think a few short cuts have compromised flavour at all, it does take hours to make, but to be honest the actual time you spend doing anything is nothing like that much. I would not claim any degree of authenticity here, but I would claim this tastes fabulous....

Cassoulet - inspiration as above

serves 6-8 generously

First the beans....

500 gr haricot beans, soaked in cold water overnight (see below if you are forgetful like moi)
200 gr pork rind, cut into chunks
1 onion, peeled and studded with 4 cloves
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 Bouquet Garni (Bay, Thyme, & Parsley tied together in a little bunch with string)

Drain the beans, then put in a large pot with the rest of the ingredients. Cover by at least 3 cm with fresh cold water. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 1.5-2 hours until the beans are nice & tender.
If you forget the soaking step, cover your beans with cold water, and bring to a rolling boil. Boil for a full 10 minutes, then turn the heat off & pop a lid on your pot. Leave to sit for 2 hours. The boiling gets rid of any toxins in the beans, so don't skimp on this step. Continue as above

Now the meatie bit....

2 confit duck legs (I will post how to make these later this week, or you can buy, I got mine at Sabato)
800 gr Pork Belly (I like Freedom Farms,) cut into chunks
6 good meaty pork sausages (I get mine at the fabulous Ellerslie Meats)
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled & chopped
1 small tin of crushed tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato paste
salt & pepper

Ok, first you need to brown your meats. Take 2 tbsp of the fat from around your duck legs, and melt over a medium heat. Brown your duck legs on both side, and set aside. A bit of fat will come out of your duck, dont freak out, it is that kind of dish.
Now brown the pork belly, the skin will spit and crackle, so be careful. Set aside with the duck, and add the sausages to the pan. Brown on all sides and cut into chunks. By now you, the cooker, the floor & probably the wall will be covered in fat, this is what happens.........
Turn the heat to low, and add the onion & garlic to the pan. Cook for 5 minutes until soft but not really browned. Add the tomato pulp and paste, along with 1/2 cup of water. Stir & simmer for 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 160C. When the beans are cooked, check you still have plenty of liquid in the pan. I dont think I had enough, I would aim for at least a cm over the level of the beans. The beans will soak up a lot more liquid in the oven. Stir through the tomato mixture, and check your seasoning, remember the duck has a bit of salt, but dont under season.

Layer the meat & beans, starting and finishing with beans. An earthenware pot in traditional, I use my Le Creuset which works perfectly. Now you could sprinkle the top with breadcrumbs, I didn't have any so relied on the beans to form their own crust. Apparently this would be the subject of hot debate in France, my audience didn't know the difference so it was fine!
Bake for 1.5 to 2 hours until crusty, bubbly, meaty & gorgeous. You are the déesse domestique....

I served my Cassoulet with this potato dish, (in for a penny as they say....) One of my sisters does not eat red meat, so she made a rather divine salad Nicoise to go with dinner, I think my arteries were saying thanks. A green salad would also be perfect, sharp with a mustard dressing.

I also made this tangy Rhubarb Creaming Soda syrup to use with my soda stream , thanks to Good Food in a Crap Kitchen, delicious, and so pretty.

I will be posting further recipes from Les Halles, it is a useful, well designed book, I like Anthony Bourdain's straight talking style, the recipes are relatively simple to use and the format is clear & easy to read. Probably not one for vegetarians however.

Les Halles Cookbook
Anthony Bourdain
Bloomsbury 2004


  1. That looks good, I'm going to have get supplies to make this!

    1. Do! Although plan for a big lie-down afterwards.....!

  2. Always one of my favourite dishes and great to be reading you posts again.

  3. This is a dish that has been on my radar for quite a while now - thanks for inspiring me to give it a try sooner rather than later.

    Hate it when you lose a blog post and have to do it all over again - I had that happen to me recently. Had a blog post all finished, pressed publish and it just completely disappeared. Now I always take a copy of my HTML code of the whole post and paste it into a word document before I push publish - just in case.

    Haven't visited for a while (my bad), so don't know how long you've had the new header on your blog, but I like it. Hope all's well with you.

    Sue xo

    1. Hi Sue, thanks and lovely to hear from you:)


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