- January 2015
- Serves 6-8
- Hands-on time 50 min, simmering time 3-4 hours, plus overnight cooling and soaking
Cassoulet is a traditional French recipe made by slow cooking pancetta, bacon and sausages in a bean and vegetable stew. This version is by Andrew Woodford, head chef at Boulestin.
Don’t get caught out – note that you need to start this recipe 24 hours before, in order to soak the beans.
You might also like our chicken and sausage cassoulet.
- 42.1g (15.1g saturated)
- 45.1g (5.7g sugars)
- 600g dried haricot beans
- 400g smoked pancetta or ventríche, if you can find some (see know-how)
- 400g piece unsmoked free-range British bacon
- 400g (about 6) British free-range toulouse sausages (from larger supermarkets or butchers)
- 1/2 carrot
- 1 small onion
- 1/2 garlic bulb, cloves separated and peeled
- 1/2 celery stick
- 1/2 leek
- small bunch fresh thyme
- 50g duck fat
- 3 tbsp tomato purée
- 2.5 litres good quality fresh chicken stock
- 2 confit duck legs (tinned or in vac-packs, from larger supermarkets or butchers)
For the topping
- Handful breadcrumbs, toasted in a pan with a little oil until golden
- Handful fresh parsley, finely chopped
You’ll also need
- Large (5 litre) casserole
- Large piece of muslin (from cook shops or larger supermarkets)
- Cooking string
- Baking paper
Soak the beans for 24 hours in enough cold water to cover by about 15cm (see make ahead).
- The next day, heat the oven to 160C/fan140C/gas 3. Drain the soaked beans and put into a flameproof casserole (about 5 litres in volume), along with all the meats, except the duck confit.
- Cut the veg into large chunks (leave the garlic cloves whole), then fry with the thyme and half the duck fat for 10 minutes in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the tomato purée, cook for 5 minutes, then add the chicken stock. Mix well, then strain the liquid into the casserole to cover the beans and meat.
- Tip the veg onto a large square (about 30cm x 30cm) of muslin, tie it tightly with string and add to the pot. Make a cartouche by cutting a circle of baking paper to fit inside the casserole (see know-how). Press it lightly on top of the cassoulet, then bring the dish to the boil, cover with foil and transfer to the oven. Cook for 3-4 hours, stirring gently once or twice during cooking. When the beans and meat are tender, remove the dish from the oven and leave to cool completely, covered. (You can leave it somewhere cool overnight rather than putting it in the fridge while still hot.)
- The next day, discard any solid fat on the surface, then reheat the mixture on the hob. When warmed through, remove all the meat (don’t worry about the pancetta if you’ve used diced) and the bag of veg, setting the veg aside. Reheat the duck confit according to the pack instructions, then set aside to cool slightly.
- Chop the sausages into chunks, trim the skin off the bacon and chop into chunks, and chop the pancetta if you’ve used a whole piece.
- Heat the remaining duck fat in a large pan over a high heat and fry the chopped meats all over until golden depending on the size of your pan, you may need to do this in batches. Spoon the meat back into the casserole, then deglaze the pan: add a little of the stock over a medium heat and scrape up the stuck bits. Tip the stock and scrapings back into the cassoulet.
- Heat the oven to 200C/fan180C/gas 6. Open up the muslin bag of veg and put the contents in a food processor. Add 1-2 ladles of beans and stock, then whizz to a smooth purée. Mix this back into the cassoulet. Thickly shred the duck confit and add to the casserole.
- Sprinkle the breadcrumbs and parsley over the top and bake, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes until heated through and golden on top. Serve with steamed veg or a sharp dressed salad of bitter leaves.
Freeze the finished cassoulet in a sealed, freezer-proof container for up to 3 months, then defrost thoroughly before reheating.
A cartouche is a piece of baking paper cut to fit the shape of the pan and put directly on top of food that’s cooking in the pan. It keeps the moisture in, allowing everything to cook evenly.
Ventríche is lightly cured and smoked pork belly and is typical to the French region of Gascony. It’s tricky to get hold of in the UK, so we’ve used a thick slice of smoked pancetta instead. Find large pieces of pancetta in Italian delis, or online at natoora.co.uk. If you can’t find any, use the largest cubes of smoked pancetta you can find.
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