A cassoulet is rustic stew of white beans & meat that have been slow cooked. It seems like the crock pot is the perfect cooking tool for this dish. The recipe from Williams-Sonoma is adapted from one by Thomas Keller of The French Laundry so I figure it had to be good. It is a bit of a modern take on the French classic with its use of Spanish chorizo & Japanese panko.
I cut the recipe in about half (sort of) & that filled my whole crock pot which is a pretty big one, I can't imagine how big a pot you'd have to have for the full dish! I stuck pretty close to the original recipe though I had to change the cut of pork since my butcher was out of pork shoulders. I also left out a step at the end where you broil the cassoulet with slices of baguette on top & just served it with some bread on the side. It took about 1/2 hour of prep work to get everything ready for the crock pot, then 7 hours of cooking & then 30 minutes of standing time so plan accordingly (I started it around 10:30 am & we ate at 6:30 pm) also the beans need to soak overnight.
Crock Pot Cassoulet
1 1/2 c white beans (we used Great Northern)
2 slices thick bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 1.5 lb bones rib end pork roast, cut into about 8 large pieces
salt & pepper
1 large onion, peeled & chopped
1 c dry white wine
2 T tomato paste
1 14oz can whole plum tomatoes, drained & coarsely chopped
1 c chicken broth
12oz chorizo sausage links, cut in half lengthwise & then into bite-sized pieces
1/2 head of garlic, cloves peeled & cut in half
1 T canola oil
1/2 c panko
2 T fresh parsley, chopped plus extra for garnish
The day before making the cassoulet pick over your beans & put them in water to soak for 24 hours. Drain & set aside.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat cook the bacon until crisp. Remove from the pan & drain on a paper towel, leave the bacon fat in the pan. Set the bacon aside until later.
Generously salt & pepper the pork. Put into the hot skillet & cook until brown on all sides, 7 to 8 minutes. Remove & set aside. Add the onion & a little salt to the pan. Cook until the onion & starting to brown & soft, about 7 minutes. Add the white wine to deglaze the pan. Let the wine & onions simmer until reduced by half, about 8 minutes.
Put the wine & onions into the crock pot. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste & chicken broth. Add the pork, sausage & garlic. Set the crock pot to low & cook for about 7 hours, the beans should be tender & the pork should easily fall apart (I checked mine after 5 hours & felt it wasn't cooking fast enough so I turned it up to high for the last two hours which did the trick).
Heat the canola oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the panko & cook while stirring until golden brown. Season with salt & pepper. Gently fold the panko & parsley into the crock pot. Turn the crock pot off & let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Serve garnished with more parsley & the crispy bacon.
Makes 6 servings
Would we make this again? Yes, its a warm, comforting stick-to-your-ribs dish. The pork was so tender is just feel into pieces throughout the whole dish. The only thing we would change is the chorizo, it doesn't seem quite the right sausage & its flavor really stuck out, next time we'll experiment with a different one.