This dish, prepared in yonder days for Sunday lunch, was a festive meal. It was in made in a "cassolo", a deep clay dish that gave its name to cassoulet.
For 4 people :
• 400 g of Great Northern beans (haricots lingot)
• 400 g of pork loin • 100 g of pork rinds
• 4 slices of bacon • knuckle or shoulder of pork
• Duck or goose confit
• 4 pork sausages
• 100 g of carots
• Salt, pepper, thyme, laurel, parsley
If using dried beans, soak them overnight in cold water. Rinse and place the beans in a pan filled with cold water. Bring to the boil to blanch the beans for 5 minutes and drain.
In the meantime prepare the stock using the pork rind cut into wide strips, the duck/goose carcass (if available) and/or a few pork bones. Some vegetables can be added to taste: onion, carrot, leek. Salt and pepper. Finally add some garlic minced with mature salted bacon.
Please note: hard water should not be used for this recipe.
Strain the stock, set aside the pork rind and discard the rest. The volume of stock should be at least twice the volume of the blanched beans.
Put the beans in the stock and cook for ½ an hour to 2 hours. The beans should be soft but remain whole. Whilst cooking a very small amount of tomato puree must be added (i.e. 1 tablespoon per kilo of beans).
Whilst the beans are cooking, prepare the meat. Place the pieces of confit in a large frying pan over a low heat to remove the fat. Lift out and drain the pieces of confit, leaving the fat in the pan. Add the pieces of pork meat to the fat and sauté them until golden. Take out of the pan and drain them. Use the same fat to fry the sausages. Once all this is done, place the ingredients in a “cassole” – a shallow earthenware dish – which has given its name to cassoulet.
Line the bottom of the cassole with the pork rind and add about a third of the beans. Then add the meat and pour the remaining beans over it. Add the sausages, pushing them down into the beans but taking care to leave the top of the sausages visible. Finally pour the hot stock, which should just cover the beans. Grind some black pepper over the top of the dish.
Place in a pre-heated oven (150°/160°C – gas mark 5/6) and bake for 2 to 3 hours. A golden brown crust will form on top of the dish, which must be pushed down several times (7 times according to tradition) taking care not to crush the beans. This provides an opportunity to check that the beans are not drying out. Should this be the case some stock should be added, but not as much as to drown the beans. Serve the bubbling cassoulet in the cassole - straight out of the oven.
It is quite possible to make cassoulet one day ahead. In this case reheat it for 1½ to 2 hours in the oven at 150°C.
Serve with a Languedoc-Roussillon red wine.