Cassoulet is a long-simmered stew of white beans and pork, a classic from the southwest of France that dates back to the 14th century. The name ‘cassoulet’ comes from the earthenware cooking pot it was traditionally made in called the cassolle.
This was an extremely comforting meal eaten with the threat of a 20-inch Blizzard looming over my head. It’s rustic, stick-to-your ribs, cold weather food. I observed how ugly it looked to which my Dad was quick to dismiss. To him it was supremely delicious looking. Man-food. And really what could be better than bacon infused beans with more porky chunks of goodness by way of Italian sausage floating around?!
The stew begins on top of the stove by sauteing aromatic vegetables and then adding bacon, beans, broth and herbs. It’s transferred to the oven where it slowly simmers to allow the rich flavors to develop. Seared slices of sausage are stirred in and a blanket of breadcrumbs sprinkled over the top form a crunchy crust to trap all the richness of the stew inside. I used a tomato pesto to brighten up the flavors and add a fresh, light element to counteracts the heaviness of the dish.
The end result is incredible! Full-bodied. Earthy. Velvety. Warming. Filling. Deeply satisfying. And the snow-storm? Never touched us. Magic. Stew.