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Cranberry Bean Cassoulet Stew

Cranberry Bean Cassoulet with Seared Sausage

Cranberry Bean Cassoulet Stew

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Intro

Cassoulet is a staple of French cuisine and somewhat of an obsession to many French cooks.

I was introduced to Cassoulet when I received my favorite French cookbook La Vie Rustic, by Georgeanne Brennan. She has a gorgeous version that uses duck legs and pork belly along with flageolet beans, which are traditionally used for Cassoulet.

Georgeanne is a James Beard-awarded cookbook author and chef. She and her husband moved to Provence in 1970 and spent a few years there there specifically to experience the simple life and traditional, flavorful food. Her writings and life experience have certainly been inspirational to us and our brand. She now sells heirloom seeds from France that we plan to grow at Le Vieux Jardin. You can learn more about sustainable living and authentic French cooking products at her site, La Vie Rustic.

The second inspiration came from Georgeanne’s good friend, Kate Hill. Kate is such an expert on Cassoulet that she’s written an entire book about the dish. In her words, “Cassoulet is the culinary equivalent of turning straw into gold.” We couldn’t agree more! Kate still lives in Gascony and hosts cooking classes at her Kitchen-at-Camont. This is high up on our to-do list next summer!

On a more local level, some of the basic inspiration and instruction came from Josh McFadden’s new cookbooks, Six Seasons. Josh is co-owner of several amazing restaurants around Portland, all of whom are locally sourced, aggressively seasonal and perfectly balanced. Josh spent time as a farmer before he become a chef. If you haven’t had a chance to pick this up yet, it’s a MUST. We love it so much we’re considering offering free copies of it to all our future CSA Members. The book has a section on perfectly cooked beans, and we utilized much of his suggested methodology in this recipe to get us going.

Traditional cassoulet can be dripping with fat and quite time-consuming. So to update this dish for a more modern crowd, I’ve simplified the animal sources that are added. Although slow-simmered beans take on a mysterious porkiness all on their own, I added some fresh ground pork sausage from Beeler’s, and sustainably raised ham from Niman Ranch in lieu of the pork belly or skin. There’s no pork belly, duck legs or confit in this dish, but there is plenty of savory flavor from lots of fresh herbs, garlic and a dried arbol chile. In fact, fresh herbs and garlic are anti-microbial and have many anti-inflammatory plant compounds that are healthy for digestion and gut microbiome. We use them liberally in this dish.

Beans and Herbs Ready for Cooking

Also in place of traditional flageolet beans, I used Cranberry Beans, also called Borlotti Beans. Cranberry Beans don’t taste like cranberries – they get their name from the brilliant magenta swirl on the raw beans (this disappears as they cook, unfortunately). I got my beans from the local Sun Gold Farms at a Fill Your Pantry event put on by Friends of Family Farmers. I couldn’t be more pleased with the quality of these beans! Cranberry Beans are also available in the bulk section of many grocers. You’ll want to soak dried beans overnight to reduce their cooking time.

Another interesting method I used for the sausage is to sear it in thin patties rather than crumbling it right away. You can read more in the Instructions, but here’s a picture of what it looked like in the skillet:

Fresh ground sausage ready for searing

New Seasons has a flavor called “Country Sage” sausage and I used that here, but Mild Italian would work just as well. You end up crumbling the sausage after it sears, and it has these wonderful dark brown edges, like so:

Sausage and Ham, crumbled up

So although this dish is more of an “Almost Cassoulet”, we think it translates well into the modern health and flavor-conscious kitchen. The recipe has well-balanced protein, carb and fat macros – and a whopping 13 grams of dietary fiber! The tomatoes were a last-minute addition but I think they add a refreshing bit of acidity and texture to the dish.

Although the stew simmers for nearly an hour, most of it is hands-off time. It’s perfect for a weekend meal prep and fills the entire house with aromas of France. I can’t really think of a better cozy Sunday afternoon than that.

Here the stew is just garnished with some black pepper, fresh parsley and a few more fresh sage leaves. Bon appétit!

Finished Cassoulet Stew ready to eat!

Cranberry Bean Cassoulet with Seared Sausage



Cranberry Bean Cassoulet Stew

Ingredients

2 cups dried cranberry (borlotti) beans

1-2 tsp Diamond Crystal or other fine sea salt

4 large cloves garlic, smashed and peel removed

1 dried chile de arbol

1 sprig fresh rosemary

1 sprig fresh sage

2 sprigs fresh thyme

2 sprigs fresh oregano

10 cups water

1 pound pastured pork fresh-ground sausage, preferably “Country Sage” flavor or Mild Italian flavor

1/2 pound pastured ham or pancetta, diced

1/2 of a 14 oz can of diced tomatoes (add full can if you prefer more tomato – we preferred keeping the focus on the beans and herbs)

Instructions

1

Measure 2 cups dry cranberry beans in a medium bowl. Cover with enough water to cover the beans by 2″, and soak overnight.

2

Drain and rinse beans the next day when you’re ready to cook. You’ll likely have about 4 cups of soaked beans. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

3

Place beans in a large Dutch Oven and add 1 tsp Diamond Crystal salt, 4 large cloves of smashed/peeled garlic, 1 dried chile de arbol, sprig of rosemary, sprig of sage, and 2 sprigs each thyme and oregano.

4

Cover with 10 cups water (enough to cover the beans by 1-1.5 inches), and bring to a boil on high.

5

As soon as water starts to boil, reduce heat until gently bubbling and stable, partially covered. Simmer for 25-30 minutes or until beans are easy to bite through but still dry/crumbly on the inside.

6

While simmering, place ground sausage in large frying pan and press with your fingers until it is one big patty about 1/2” thick. Break apart the large patty into 4 roughly equal patties (rough uneven edges are great) so they can be flipped more easily.

7

Turn the stove on to high heat using your largest burner, and wait for the sausage to begin sizzling. Begin sear time on first side for 3 minutes or until well browned, then flip to other side and repeat another 3-ish minutes until other side is seared and browned also. (The inside should not be cooked at this point.)

8

Reduce heat to medium and use a firm-tip plastic spatula to break apart the 4 patties into roughly bite-sized pieces. Add the diced ham and saute together until ham is warmed and lightly golden in spots, about 3 minutes.

9

While ham is sauteing, use a fork to remove all tough/woody stems in the bean dish. You’ll have stems from the rosemary, thyme and oregano (sage stems are soft and don’t need removed). Their leaves will have fallen off into the sauce during cooking.

10

Add the sausage/ham mixture into the Dutch Oven with beans and add the 1/2 can diced tomatoes. Mix well, cover and place in 400 degree oven for 30 minutes.

11

Uncover and continue braising another 20 minutes or until sauce is nicely thickened to the consistency you’d like.

12

Remove from oven, let cool slightly, and taste for saltiness. Add another tsp of salt if necessary. Ladle into 6 equal serving containers. Eat what you like immediately. Let the leftover portions cool another hour and then place in refrigerator. Will keep up to a week.

13

To Serve: We prefer torn Bread Croutons (the kind with ragged edges) on top for crunch. Can also serve with toasty, crusty sourdough bread. (Nutrition Info below is without croutons.)

Nutrition Per Serving

Calories
400

Protein
33g

Carbs
35g

Fiber
13g

Fat
14g

Tags:

Dinner In Provence
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