A quicker, easier cassoulet

Recipes for cassoulet are full of instructions like “simmer for four hours” or “stir for an hour” or even “let sit overnight”. I like recipes you can make in an hour, and this is an amended cassoulet recipe that takes – okay, not an hour, but maybe two hours, and most of it is just baking time. Cassoulet uses more meat than I usually eat, but once in a while on a cold evening, with people coming over, this is a good meal. This cassoulet is more beans and vegetables than meat, at least.

Usually I try to cook from dried beans instead of canned, because it’s better for you and cheaper, but cassoulet already takes a long time, and it would take longer if you had to cook the beans first. So you should start from dried beans if you have time.

How to make cassoulet:

Preheat oven to 375 F. In a medium frying pan, heat 1/4 cup of olive oil. Saute one chopped onion and four minced cloves of garlic. Cut up 1/4 pound of lamb and 1/4 pound of pork sausage, and brown them and four chicken drumsticks with the onions. Pour all that into an oven-safe casserole.

Add a cup of defrosted tomato sauce (or a can of commercial tomato paste), 1/2 cup of white wine, 1 cup of beef stock (or 1 beef bouillon cube and a cup of water), two teaspoons of thyme, two teaspoons of chopped parsley if you have some growing, and one teaspoon of cloves. Also add two cans of white beans with their water, and half a cauliflower, chopped. Add more water if needed until the liquid almost covers the meat and vegetables. Adjust the drumsticks so they stick up out of the casserole. Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top. Bake at 350 for about an hour and a half.

We like cassoulet with sauteed spinach on the side, pretty simple.

Vegetarian or vegan

This is really neither. You could make it vegan by browning chunks of tofu and/or tempeh and a diced sweet potato in place of the meat. Use plenty of miso in the stock, in that case.

Can I keep this for later?

Sure. Put the leftovers in a tupperware in the refrigerator, and the flavors will blend and it will be even better than it was at first. You can reheat it for about four or five days. You might need to add a little salt after reheating to bring out the flavors.

Published by Karen Carr

Dr. Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, or Facebook, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.

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