Sunday, January 30, 2011

Lightened Up Cassoulet

Traditionally a French dish, cassoulets use a variety of rich meats to flavor a baked bean dish. This rustic dish is like many other baked bean dishes made around Europe - there are as many recipes as there are grandmothers out there! This dish is simple and easy to make - don't be scared by the long ingredient list. It works wonderfully as a lazy Sunday afternoon project when you have time to sit and wait for the flavors to combine perfectly. This will also work for slow cookers - so feel free to prep it in advance and come home to a delicious hot meal.

Generally, very rich meats like goose or duck are used as the main ingredient with additions of pork sausage and bacon to give flavor to the white beans. I decided to lighten my dish up by using chicken thighs and chicken andouille sausage. I do think that a bit of bacon would have been an excellent addition lending some of the smokey flavor that bacon is famous for to the dish. I also strayed from the original by using a mixture of red kidney beans and white cannellini beans which was more a decision based on my pantry supplies than tastes. I also didn't have any onions in my house...but I added some shallots to compensate.

Click through for the recipe! 

2 links andouille chicken sausages (I used trader joe's brand) - diced
6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 15 oz can canellini beans - drained and rinsed
1 15 oz can red kidney beans - drained and rinsed
1 28 oz can san marzano whole tomatos - crushed
1/2 c celery- diced
1/2 c carrots - diced
1/2 c green bell pepper - diced
2 c mushrooms - sliced 
3 large cloves of garlic - minced
1 shallot - minced
2 tbsp fresh basil
4 tbsp dried italian herbs
salt & pepper
2 tbsp olive oil

1) Cover the chicken with italian seasoning and salt & pepper.
2) In a cast iron dutch oven heat the oil
3) Add the chicken thighs and allow to brown - flip after about 5 min
4) Move chicken to the side and add the sausage - allow to brown
5) Add the garlic, shallots, peppers, carrots and celery - saute till softened
6) Add the beans, tomato, mushrooms and half of the fresh basil - cover and place in 350F oven for at least 1 hour (2 hours would be better)