Monday, September 14, 2015

Three Bean Cassoulet

With Autumn just around the corner, you might want to add the "Three-Bean Cassoulet" (page 257) to your upcoming menu. Cassoulet, which traditionally combines some sort of meat and white beans, is a classic stew from the south of France, but one that is baked in the oven, not on top of the stove. This recipe incorporates three separate varieties of white beans - Navy, Great Northern, and Cannellini - calling for a total of 4 ½ cups in all. Sautéed carrots, onions, and celery are mixed with the beans and tomatoes, and generously seasoned with parsley, savory, and thyme. Everything is transferred to a covered casserole dish and baked in the oven for about an hour. Autumn, to me, signals the beginning of heartier, warming meals such as this kind of stew.

I took a few liberties with this recipe. I only used one kind of bean, an heirloom variety called Orca, which I cooked from scratch, which didn't turn out to be the best choice, but I had them to use up, and so I did. I also used just three cups of the cooked beans, and threw in some white and blue potato chunks to make up the difference. Instead of using 1 cup of broth, I used ½ cup of red wine and ½ cup of broth for a richer flavor. I also opted not to top with the breadcrumbs called for towards the end of the baking time because the stew was so juicy (not a bad thing), it seemed to me the crumbs would have just dissolved into the broth instead of sitting atop the veggies.

In retrospect, and especially since I didn't use the breadcrumbs, I think this could just as easily have worked on the stove top in a big Dutch oven or stew pot. But however you make it, as written, or with your own substitutions and tweaks, you just can't go wrong with a pot or a pan of stewed beans and veggies floating in a flavorful broth.

Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:

  • Do not use oil to sauté the veggies; instead, use a nonstick skillet and/or water, broth, or sherry for the cooking liquid.

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