When I was first learning to cook, I was game to try anything that sounded fancy and impressive, irrespective of the grunt work involved. Cassoulet was one of my early dishes. With loads of slow-cooked beans and plenty of pork fat, it’s the kind of food that speaks my language. My first attempt was a several day affair. And it was good.
Now I’m guessing that most people don’t have the desire or the time to spend 3 days preparing a dish. But I don’t want you to miss out on making this dish at home because a simple version can be made in an hour. I make mine with ingredients that you’ll likely have on hand. No Toulouse sausage, no pork skin. Just raid your pantry and most of the items should be there.
2 well-seasoned pork sausages (Sage, Cotechino, Fennel, etc.)
1 8oz package of good quality bacon, I like Applegate Farms’ Sunday bacon
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
2 tablespoons of tomato puree
1/3 cup white wine
2 14-hounce cans of cannellini or other small white beans, rinsed and drained.
2 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced finely
1 Tablespoon herbes de Provence
Handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped and divided
2 cups of fresh breadcrumbs
Salt & pepper to taste
Add the sausages on one side, and snip the bacon with kitchen shears onto the other side.
Cook the sausages and bacon, stirring frequently, so that the sausage is cooked through and the bacon is crisp.
If the sausage cooks firs, remove it and continue to cook the bacon a minute or two more.
Remove the pan from the heat, and using a slotted spoon, drain the bacon onto a paper towel.
Pour off the bacon grease into a cup (reserving as you’ll use some of it later), and leave 1 Tablespoon in the pan.
When cool, dice the sausage into large chunks and add, along with the bacon, into a large bowl.
Put the pan back on the heat on medium, and add the onion and carrot and a pinch of salt.
Sautee the vegetables until soft (about 6-8 minutes).
When the vegetables are almost done, add the tomato paste, and sautee for another minute.
Add the wine, and deglaze the pan, scraping at all of the brown bits. Cook the wine down for a minute or two until the vegetables have lost most of their liquid.
Scrape the vegetables into the bowl with the bacon and sausage.
Add the liquid to the bowl with the vegetables and the meat.
Add the beans to the bowl, along with the diced tomatoes, herbes de Provence and all but 1 Tablespoon of the parsley.
Toss to combine and season with a little more salt & pepper.
Add your beans mixture to a medium sized casserole dish, or 2 individual-serving casserole dishes.
In a separate bowl, toss your fresh breadcrumbs with the remaining parsley, and moisten with a few Tablespoons of the leftover bacon grease.
Season the breadcrumbs with a little salt, and then scatter over your baking dish(es).
Cover your dishes with foil and bake in the oven for 20 minutes; uncover, and bake for another 20 minutes.
Notes: Serve with crusty bread, or as we like to do, with a poached egg on top.