Cassoulet is French for delicious. So I lied, it’s not. But true to its name, ha, cassoulet is one tasty dish. Traditionally cassoulet is a slow-cooked dish of white beans cooked with an assortment of meat- duck confit, pork, sausage, pork skin, lamb, goose fat, or chicken, among others. It’s a rich, decadent meal that cooks for six hours or more and by hour six or seven a crust forms on the top of the cassoulet. Mais oui, c’est délicieux. But who has the time? Pressure Cooker Cassoulet might lack the crust of a cassoulet made in the oven but it lacks nothing in the flavor department and it cooks in under an hour. (I used my Instant Pot) Incroyable! Bonus: it’s economical.
Duck confit, pork skin, and goose fat sound like wonderful ways to flavor up a pot of beans, but this version sticks to more common meats found at your local grocery store: country-style pork ribs, Polska kielbasa, and bacon. Feel free to substitute other pork cuts for the ribs and your favorite sausage for the kielbasa, just be aware some sausages won’t survive 40 minutes under pressure. Kielbasa softens and loses some texture but it holds its shape and still has a bit of bite from the skin. These meats are readily available and more common than goose fat but there’s nothing common about the flavor they impart to the beans – otherworldly and luxurious spring to mind. This budget-friendly version skimps on price but is so loaded with flavor that you won’t believe a pot of beans tastes this good. From a pot of very little comes a bowl packed with smoky beans, tender pork, and sausage.
Pork and beans. That’s it, yet so much more.
Cassoulet is pork and beans elevated to the nth degree.
Silky, sexy, decadent pork and beans.
Cassoulet has Herbes de Provence to thank for its sexiness. The Herbes de Provence mixture that I use includes basil, thyme, fennel, and lavender. Other mixes might include oregano, marjoram, savory, or rosemary. The spice blend can be found at World Market for a reasonable price. I like World Market’s blend – it’s subtle yet distinctive. You can also buy an organic and reasonably priced Herbes de Provence on Amazon and get it shipped to your house – talk about convenient! One teaspoon of Herbes de Provence turns a decadent pot of pork and beans into something luxurious. But it doesn’t stop there.
Once the beans cook, you can keep it simple and mix in some parsley, which is nice. Or, add some crunchy texture with buttered breadcrumbs mixed with some parsley, which is tasty. Or, top the beans with a gremolata, a fancy word for a mixture of common ingredients: lemon zest, garlic, and parsley. The gremolata cuts some of the richness of the beans and adds another layer of flavor, taking a luxurious dish and turning it into something extraordinary. Sprinkle it on the cassoulet and it lightens and brightens the dish. Or, for another alternative, you can spread some butter on bread, sprinkle the gremolata on top, and broil the bread until crisp.
Here’s a link to a detailed step-by-step gremolata recipe. Gremolata is simply lemon zest, parsley, and garlic. This three-ingredient relish is easy to make, but there are a couple things to make it even easier and tastier. Remember fresh and organic ingredients work best, and I highly recommend you pull out your Microplane . The Microplane turns the garlic into a paste and zests the lemon beautifully. It aids in making a simple relish even easier.
Cassoulet is perfect on a winter night in a cabin after a day of snowboarding or on a rainy game night with friends. You can serve it for Sunday dinner, a date night, or a French dinner party. It’s a sexy meal that is sure to be a crowdpleaser.
Got leftovers? Cassoulet freezes very well. My Pressure Cooker Cassoulet sat in the fridge for several days before I froze it. When I thawed it, it tasted even better. I highly recommend you schedule some fridge time for the cassoulet. The flavors marry and deepen and magically bond into something truly wondrous, and the flavors are darn tasty from the beginning. I made Cassoulet Casserole with leftovers. It’s scrumptious.
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