09 December 2008

Crock Pot Cassoulet

Finals and some technical problems have kept me out of the kitchen and away from the computer for a while so thank you for your patience with the lag in between posts. Just one more week to go and I will finally be done with the semester and able to cook and catch up on everyone's blogs but for now I'll try to do a few quick posts.

One of my favorite things to do when I'm home is look through my mum's cooking magazines. She gets them all: Gourmet, Bon Appetite, Cooks Illustrated and a few smaller ones as well. I love flipping through and picking out recipes that look good, even though I'm not sure everyone else does as I'm constantly interrupting to read out recipe titles and say 'oh-doesn't this sound good.'

I found a recipe for a slow-cooker version of cassoulet, a French bean stew that generally takes days to make otherwise, and, as I'd just discovered my grandma's old Rival crockpot from circa 1972 in the basement of my dad's house, I decided I'd give it a try. I had to modify the recipe a bit to reduce the scale as I think modern slow-cookers are bigger than the older ones and I also left out the chicken as the recipe just called for it to be cooked in a foil packet on top of everything else in the cooker which sounded sort of odd to me. I also used bone-in St. Louis style ribs as opposed to boneless country style pork ribs (that the recipe called for), but feel free to use whichever you can find.

The cassoulet turned out very thick, with a rich sauce that was perfect to soak up with French Bread. Recipe after the jump (one last note-- you can make this in a Dutch oven if you don't have a crock pot.)

Slow Cooker Cassoulet
Adapted from Cooks' Country Magazine
Serves 6-8

1 lb. navy beans (any small white bean will do)
2 lb. Pork ribs, cut into 1 in. chunks
1 T. vegetable oil
8 oz. reduced fat kielbasa, slicked into thin pieces
1 large onion, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 t. dried thyme
3.5 C. chicken stock
1/2 C. white wine
1, 14 oz. can chopped tomatoes
1 t. salt

- Pick through beans to remove any non-bean objects. Put in a saucepan and add water to about 1 in. over the beans. Bring to a boil and simmer 20 minutes to soften. Drain beans and add to slow cooker.

- While the beans are cooking, pat pork dry with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a Dutch oven or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat and brown pork on both sides, working if batches if needed so as not to overcrowd the pan. As each batch finishes, toss the pork into the slow cooker.

- Once you have finished browning all the pork, add the kielbasa to the pan and brown for a few minutes. Remove kielbasa to a paper towel lined plate, cover and stick it in the fridge until later.

- Add the onion and salt to the same pan, along with a little extra oil if needed. Turn heat down to medium and cook for about 5 minutes, until the onion is softened. Add garlic and thyme and cook for an additional minute. Pour in the wine, broth and tomatoes and bring to a boil, scraping the bottom of the pan to get the fond (tasty brown stuff on the bottom of the pan). Carefully transfer the hot onion liquid mixture to the slow cooker.

- Cook the cassoulet on low in the slow cooker for 6-7 hours,* stirring every 30 minutes or so (or when you remember-- you just want to make sure the beans on the top cook too) until the pork is tender.

- When you are ready to eat stir the reserved kielbasa into the slow-cooker and allow to heat for about 10 minutes. Taste for salt and pepper and serve with crusty bread.

*If you haven't got a slow cooker, just do this part in the Dutch oven over low-heat. You want the cassoulet at a low simmer for the entire cooking period.


Lynn said...

This looks great, something my husband has been after me to make for years. Putting it in a crockpot sounds ideal! Great idea.

kat said...

Its such a perfect winter dish