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Recipe: Cassoulet



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Updated: January 22, 2012 8:01AM

All the components of this dish can be made a day in advance, stored in the refrigerator, then assembled on the day. It reheats very well (top up with a little more liquid if it looks dry). Double the recipe for large crowds. For vegetarians, the meat can be left out.


4 cups dried butter beans

1 pound smoked Italian pancetta or slab bacon, in one piece

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

4 boneless duck breasts, halved crosswise, or chicken legs or thighs


1/2 pounds fresh Toulouse sausages or Italian coarse pork sausages, cut into 3 pieces each

2 white onions, chopped

1 large carrot, chopped

4 to 6 large garlic cloves, crushed

3 fresh or dried bay leaves

2 teaspoons dried thyme

2 whole cloves

3 tablespoons tomato paste

12 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and coarsely chopped

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs

4 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Put the butter beans in a very large bowl, cover with plenty of cold water and soak for at least 6 hours or ideally overnight. Drain beans well and tip into large saucepan. Cover with fresh water, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 1 hour, or until just cooked. Drain well, reserving cooking liquid.

Trim and discard rind from pancetta, and cut into large pieces. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in skillet. Add pancetta and, working in batches, brown and transfer to plate. Heat remaining oil in the pan, add duck breasts or chicken pieces and fry skin-side down until skin is golden. Transfer to plate with pancetta. Brown sausages in same way and add to plate.

Add onions to pan, then carrot, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, cloves, tomato paste and sun-dried tomatoes. Cook for 5 minutes, until vegetables start to soften.

Put half the beans in large, deep casserole dish. Add an even layer of all browned meats, then onion and tomato mixture. Season well with salt and pepper. Cover with remaining beans, then add enough reserved hot cooking liquid until beans are almost covered. Sprinkle evenly with bread crumbs and dot with butter.

Bake cassoulet in preheated oven for about 1 hour, until a golden crust has formed on top. Serve warm straight out of the dish with

salad greens on the side, if liked.

From Long Nights and Log Fires (Ryland Peters & Small, $19.95)

Nutrition facts per serving: 997 calories, 68 g fat, 23 g saturated fat, 191 mg cholesterol, 38 g carbohydrates, 5 g sugars, 57 g protein, 2,517 mg sodium, 6 g fiber

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