Monday, February 15, 2021

Cheater Cassoulet

It is *really* cold in San Antonio this week, and we’ve even got a significant snow fall. I mean, I know it’s colder-than-average in most of North America right now, and I’ve certainly known much colder temperatures in Canada. But here it feels more worrisome, because South Texas just isn’t built for it. For one thing, the houses aren’t insulated nearly as well as the last places where I lived in Canada, so it’s quite cold even indoors. (This is a constant annual complaint of mine – the ground floor of our house, like many, is tile set directly on the foundation, and the ceilings are high. Great to keep the house cool in summer, but absolutely freezing in the winter, to the point where I am often physically miserable.) Plus, even when the wind chill factor brought it down to – 40 degrees in Canada, we didn’t have freezing pipes. But here, there’s the very real threat that the pipes will freeze – if not in the house, then a water main in the street – and there could be a power outage. Of course, people don’t have winter tires, there are no trucks to clear snow, and no one to spread sand or salt, so driving is very hazardous as well. Schools are closed tomorrow, perhaps even longer. 

All this to say that given this cold, cold day, I want to eat something warm and comforting. Cassoulet would hit the spot, but the real thing takes something like 3 days to make from scratch, whereas this version from Real Simple takes about an hour. When I made this, I used pork andouille (the only one I could find), but it was too spicy for my liking. I’d use a smoked sausage next time. It was really great otherwise! 

¼ cup olive oil, divided 
1 12-oz. package andouille chicken sausage (see note above), pricked with a fork 
1 cup panko 
1 ¼ tsp. kosher salt, divided 
1 yellow onion, chopped 
1 carrot, grated 
4 cloves garlic, crushed 
1 lb. ground pork 
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper 
2 Tbsp. tomato paste 
1 14.5-oz. can crushed tomatoes 
2 sprigs thyme, plus leaves for serving 
1 15.5-oz. cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed 

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium. Add sausage; cook, turning often, until browned on all sides, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add panko and ¼ teaspoon salt to pot; cook, stirring constantly, until golden, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. 

Wipe pot clean. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium. Add onion, carrot, and garlic; cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high. Add ground pork, pepper, and remaining 1 teaspoon salt; cook, breaking up pork with a wooden spoon and stirring occasionally, until browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Add tomato paste; cook until darkened and coating pork, about 2 minutes. Stir in 1¾ cups water, crushed tomatoes, and thyme, scraping up browned bits; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, stirring often, until sauce thickens slightly, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, diagonally slice sausage. 

Add beans and sliced sausage to pot. Cook over medium, stirring occasionally, until warmed through, about 2 minutes. Discard thyme sprigs. Sprinkle with panko and thyme leaves before serving. (The seasoned panko can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for a few days, while the rest of the stew is refrigerated and warmed up before being topped and served.)

1 comment:

Amélie said...

If you're interested in different variations of cassoulet, there's a round-up here: