Friday, January 9, 2009

Cassoulet winter's warm regard.

I really, really love comfort foods. I prefer eating comfort foods over any other food. I usually default to familiar dishes that I have always known and loved which give me comfort, maybe from my childhood or from friends and family whom I love and miss and can have a visit with when I enjoy the dishes we made together.

One comfort food that I want to get in touch with again is cassoulet, which I've only made one time but now want to make again because I got the coolest pot for Christmas from my Mom. It's a cast iron, enamel coated dutch oven. I'm totally excited about that baby! This cassoulet is perfectly suited for such a pot as this. Cassoulet hales from the Southwestern region of France and is likened to what we would think of as stew, only ALOT less liquid.

What I love about this dish is how the flavors develop as it steeps on the stove. With the weather being bone chilling cassoulet is the perfect dish. Serve this with crusty bread and a wonderful salad and you are set. Here's the scoop:

Cassoulet (KASS-OU-LAY)
1 whole Rotisserie Chicken
16 oz. Turkey Kielbasa, sliced in 1/4 inch slices
1 cup onion, diced
1 cup celery, diced
1 cup Carrot, diced
1 Tablespoon minced garlic (4 cloves)
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 1/2-2 cups Chicken Stock
1 (14 1/2 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (19 oz.) cans Cannelli beans, drained
1/2 teaspoon Thyme
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup fine bread crumbs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste

Remove skin and debone chicken. Loosely chop and set aside. In a large stock pot over medium high head, add olive oil, celery, onion, and carrot. Saute over medium heat until onion is clear (5-7 minutes). Add sausage and garlic, cook 3 minutes to heat through. Add remaining ingredients except bread crumbs, cheese. Stir well, taste and add salt and pepper to personal taste, I added about a teaspoon Kosher salt and about a tablespoon of fresh cracked pepper. Combine the bread crumbs and cheese, toss together. Sprinkle over the cassoulet and place in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 40 minutes. If you don't have a cast-iron enamel pan place in a 9x13 baking dish.

It's hearty and delicious. I am not a stew person but loved, loved this dish. I think the combination of sausage and chicken comes together so well. I also think this would make a terrific Crock Pot dish. I would saute the onion, celery, carrot, and garlic with the Olive oil then add everything to my crock pot and cook it all day on low. I think it would work. You would want to play with the breadcrumb topping by maybe toasting it with some butter in the skillet you used for the veggies. It's really good, trust me.

The photo is courtesy of Southern Living ( I could never take a picture that good). As far as salad is concerned, here are some tips I always follow:
  • use organic sping mix lettuces
  • Season lettuce with salt and pepper
  • Add seven other ingredients
  • Make your own vinaigrette dressings (I use the Good Seasons mixes and just play with the acids and oils).
  • I like to include nuts, protein (usually bacon), veggies, cheese (Parmesan or feta), dried and fresh fruit (diced apricot, cranberry are great, fresh apple and pear are also good)
  • I love croutons, so I put a lot in there to.
I can't imagine anyone not being excited about coming home to this meal. Don't forget the crusty bread,with dipping sauces (balsamic and Olive oil with cracked pepper; sun-dried tomato and olive oil).

What better end to a french dinner than these babies?

No comments: