We are about to to open our French inspired Patio and Garden decor shop so I have not been spending much quality time in the kitchen, but when the weather turned chilly this week I yearned for this hearty French dish! It does not photograph well, but I assure you it is delicious!

Cassoulet is a traditional dish from South Western France. It is said to have originated in the region of Carcassonne, but other towns and cities, such as Toulouse, also claim its origin. In every market and supermarket in South West France, especially in the Dordogne area, you will see huge displays of tinned or bottled cassoulet or the ingredients specifically for it.

It is a hearty stew consisting of delicious ingredients, and is preferably enjoyed in cooler weather.

Traditionally it is made from dried haricot beans and is made over a couple of days. I have studied various recipes and assembled a quick recipe. My ‘food critic’ husband maintains it tastes just like the authentic French version that we enjoyed in the restaurants in the Dordogne over the past 3 years.

If confit duck legs are not available, or you want to make a cheaper version, use chicken thigh and drumsticks instead. Confit duck legs are pre-cooked by stewing the duck in duck fat until it is succulent. In France it is either sold canned, in glass jars or chilled in vacuum packs.

I have also at times replaced the Toulouse pork sausage with pork or chicken chipolata sausages. I think they actually look much nicer when serving the dish.


                                                                                Cassoulet served in a restaurant in Perigueux with the Breadcrumb topping

Finally the dish is traditionally topped with breadcrumbs, but I find that there is already sufficient starch from the beans and if you make the stove top version it is impractical.

It is best to use a casserole dish or large pot that can be used on hob and oven. Otherwise start in a pan and transfer to a casserole dish or cook entire dish on stove top!

Recipe: Quick Cassoulet