I love big hearty dishes at this time of year and simple one-pot ones are the business. I have had cassoulet a few times in Carcassonne and I love it, I call it "proper food". My version is my attempt to re-create the original.
I have made duck legs confit a few times but it you don't have any, use chicken thighs. To confit duck legs, sprinkle sea salt over them and some fresh thyme and leave overnight somewhere cool. Next day rinse off the excess salt and place in a casserole. Cover with duck or pork fat and place in oven for about 4 hours at a low heat.
To use chicken thighs, season and rub with some rape seed oil, roast them in the oven for about 20 mins.
Cut the pork belly into good sized chunks and seal and roast in the oven for an hour.
Brown the sausages and when cool cut into chunks.
While the meat above is cooking prepare the rest of the dish.
1 onion finely chopped
1 stick celery finely sliced
1 carrot chopped
2 cloves garlic crushed
About quarter of a butternut squash cut into chunks
4-5 good quality thick sausages (browned and cooked)
Strip of pork belly sealed off in a pan and roasted
4 chicken thighs or confit duck legs
2 tins of cannellini or haricot beans or a bean mix
Fresh thyme and sage
Good quality chicken or beef stock
A good glug of white wine
A squeeze of tomato puree
Saute the vegetables in some rape seed oil. Transfer to a casserole dish. Add in the meats and the beans, the stock, puree, wine, herbs and season. Simmer the cassoulet for about an hour in a low oven or on the hob until the vegetables are soft and it has become almost creamy looking. About 20 minutes before you want to serve it add in the chunks of butternut squash.
Serve with crusty bread and a good hearty red wine and enjoy!
Tip - I cook beans in a pressure cooker and freeze for use later. I also cook double the meat and freeze half for use in another cassoulet and then when you are in a hurry you can prepare the dish in the time it takes to chop and saute the vegetables.
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