Cassoulet is a bean dish that is heady with meats cooked or cured in different ways. On the show we used a home-kill lamb and goose, but you can adapt using your own meats. It’s a fantastic, must-share recipe that makes a lot, so use an enormous pot, or divide into two and keep one for another day.
- 1 kg dried white (cannellini) beans, soaked overnight in cold water, drained and rinsed
- 400 g belly pork
- 1 medium onion, peeled and stuck with 2 cloves
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled only
- 2 tsp salt
- 500 g lean shoulder lamb, diced
- 1 kg coarse ground pure pork sausage, available from good butchers
- 2 medium onions, diced
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
- 250 g ripe or tinned tomatoes, crushed
- 1½ litres water
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 4 thighs goose or duck confit, skin discarded, flesh only broken into pieces
- 150 g fresh white breadcrumbs
- pork fat
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Soaking time overnight
For the beans, place all the ingredients in a deep saucepan, cover well with cold water and simmer very gently for 45 minutes or until beans are nearly (but not completely) cooked. Drain, reserving the cooking water, pork and beans, and discarding the onion and garlic.
For the meats, brown the lamb and the outside of the sausages in a little oil (or, even better, duck or goose fat). Drain well and cut the sausages into bite-sized pieces. Place all the ingredients in a large saucepan, season with salt and pepper and simmer very gently for 1 hour.
For the rest, remove skin from the reserved belly pork and dice the meat. Place skin, fat side down, in a very large (preferably earthenware) casserole dish, top with the beans, all the meats (including the meat cooking liquid) and stir to combine. Add enough of the bean cooking liquid to just cover the other ingredients. Sprinkle a good layer of fresh breadcrumbs over the top and dot with a few pieces of fat (or splash on if liquid).
Cook 1 hour in a slow oven (150ºC). Top up with liquid from the beans if necessary and stir. (You can store the cassoulet in the fridge for a few days at this stage.)
Top with some more breadcrumbs and fat. Cook in the oven for another 2 hours, checking that the liquid doesn't fall below the top of the beans and meat. It should have a golden crust on top. Allow to stand for 30 minutes before serving with really good white bread and a voluptuous pinot.