Although there are numerous versions of cassoulet, most are based on a stew of white cannellini beans and various forms of pork. The dish gets its name from the pot it’s traditionally baked in, the cassole, which is often shaped like a wide inverted cone to insure the greatest amount of crispy crust. This version of the cassoulet (I found it on Australia’s Taste website) includes pork and Italian sausages as well as tomatoes. You never see tomatoes in a traditional cassoulet, but even chef Raymond Blanc likes them for their colour and sweetness.
It’s easy to make and perfect for the last few winter nights.
Pork and sausage cassoulet
(Recipe: Taste – Australia)
120 ml olive oil
1 kg pork shoulder, trimmed, cut into 3cm pieces
450 g Italian sausages
1 onion, finely chopped
1 fennel bulb, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
800 g canned tomatoes
250 ml chicken stock
2 dried bay leaves
450 g loaf ciabatta, crusts removed, cut into 1cm cubes
1 tablespoon sage leaves, finely shredded
400 g can cannellini beans, drained, rinsed
Preheat oven to 160 °C . Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large flameproof casserole dish. Cook pork, in batches, for 5 minutes or until browned all over. Transfer to a heatproof bowl. Add sausages to dish. Cook, turning, for 5 minutes or until browned all over. Transfer to a plate. Thickly slice sausages and set aside. Heat 2 teaspoons of the remaining oil in dish. Add onion, fennel and carrot. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until onion has softened. Add garlic. Cook for 1 minute or until garlic is fragrant. Return pork and sausage to dish with tomato, chicken stock and bay leaves. Bring to the boil. Remove from heat. Transfer to oven and bake, covered, stirring occasionally, for 2 hours or until pork is tender. Increase oven temperature to 200°C. Combine bread, sage and remaining oil in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Add beans to cassoulet. Stir to combine. Scatter bread mixture over top of cassoulet. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until topping is golden and crisp.