Sunday, November 07, 2010

French Country Cassoulet

Have you ever asked yourself "What would a casserole looked like if it actually got dressed up once in a while and made an effort?"

Well wonder no more, I have here the answer for you.  I think "casserole" came from the French word "cassoulet" and, as with so many things involving taste buds, the French know how to do it right.

This is just a fancy casserole but oh . . . OH (that's a moan) is it tasty! And as a bit of a tangent: I've been wanting one of those fancy Le Creuset enameled iron pots for ages--they're really the only thing for browning on the stove then transferring large amounts of food to the oven for slow, savoring roasting. 

The 6-quart pan is big enough to roast a chicken but runs for about as much money as a Toyota.  No, seriously. They're upwards of $300 and there is nothing, I repeat, NOTHING that can induce me to spend that much on a pot, I don't care if it is French.  Did you know that just to replace that cheap little knob on the top is $15? Aliéné!

I did, however, find the same pot--the VERY same--made by Lodge (the company that produces great Dutch ovens and cast-iron cookware) for a mere $50.  Now that's what I'm talking about.  Still, not a bit of nothing but certainly more financially doable than $300.  But what about the quality, you say?  Well, let's just say that after 10 years my Lodge pot cracks. Darn. I'll just buy another one. In fact, I could buy FIVE more and still be floating high.  I think I'm safe.

Anyway . . . on with the recipe.  Not only will it make you weep from the aromatic fragrance of it cooking, it just gets better each day of leftovers.  Yes, it is a bit heavy on the proteins but so what? It's winter . . . live a little. And serve it with a big loaf of crusty bread.

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
8 ounces thick-cut bacon
1 pound fat sausages of your choice
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans (or great northern)
8 ounces carrots, sliced
1 14-ounce can petit diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato puree
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme or 1 tablespoon dried
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups seasoned bread crumbs
salt and ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cut the chicken into large chunks. Thickly chop the bacon and cut the sausages into thirds if they're large.  Heat the oil in your Dutch oven casserole dish and cook the meat in batches, or until just browning on each side. Remove from oil and set aside.  Add the onions and garlic and cook 3-4 minutes until softened. 

Stir in the beans, carrots, tomatoes, tomato puree, spices and salt and pepper to taste.  Add enough of the stock to just cover the meat and beans, you don't want things swimming around.  You can always add more stock during the cooking if needed.  Cover dish and cook 1 hour.

Add more stock if necessary. Spread crumbs over the top and cook uncovered for 40 more minutes or until browned. 

You can also try adding other vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli or beans for variety.  Last time I made this I also threw in about 12 ounces cooked orzo I had frozen in the freezer to use it up and the pasta was excellent in it.


hoopty doopty said...

Oh Yum! I like that you found an alternative to Creuset. They are great but of course have a hefty price because of their name and their own celebrity associated with them.
I'm a big fan of casseroles and stews.

The Library Lady said...

I have a blue Creuset--may be a 4 qt and a skillet, both of which I bought for good prices on Ebay. I love them for many reasons, aside from the fact that they are too heavy to hang up and must stay on the stove at all times.

I have a very similar recipe--doesn't have the bacon and sometimes I've used pork in it and sometimes chicken. I'll have to make it soon--the girls really love it.

J at said...

Sounds lovely and yummy! I found myself in control of a bit of money a few years ago and splurged on a Le Creuset, and I've never been sorry. I read a bit about the differences, which have to do with enamel cracking and their lifetime warrantee. If you're ever looking for one for less money, try flea markets and thrift stores. Sometimes they pop up there, usually when their owner dies and the family doesn't know what they've got, or are so rich they have several, but in another color. :)

Daisy said...

Is this a cast iron pot? It doesn't look like it, but I can't tell in the picture.

Just searched for lodge pot, and the first thing that came up was cast iron.

Evelyn Theresa said...

So where do we find these great Lodge pots? I can't find them. (But my googling skills have much do be desired and DH is away on business.)

Scribbit said...

Amazon carries them--I got mine at Walmart.

Lexi said...

I found my Le Creuset at costco for a very good price, probably 1/2 price.

Jill Monroe said...

This recipe made me go out and buy that Lodge cookware. Making it today - can't wait to try it.

Now I'm scouring the web for other recipes I can make in my new enameled cast iron pot!

Jill Monroe said...

This recipe made me go out and buy that Lodge cookware. Making it today - can't wait to try it.

Now I'm scouring the web for other recipes I can make in my new enameled cast iron pot!