Three pork cassoulet

Ideal for cold weather dining, Paul Bloxham's luxurious version of a classic French dish is a real bean feast
By Paul Bloxham
Three pork cassoulet
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 6-8
  • Cook Time:
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes plus overnight soaking
  • Effort: medium

Ingredients

main

  • 900 g dried white beans
  • 400 g piece of salt pork
  • 1 litres chicken stock
  • 4 onions, 3 halved and 1 finely chopped
  • 3 clove garlic, crushed lightly and left whole, plus 1 tbsp finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp thyme, leaves only
  • 1 bouquet garni, (4 parsley sprigs, 3 celery tops, the white and pale green part of 1 leek, and 2 bay leaves, tied in a cheesecloth bag)
  • black pepper
  • 300 g lean bacon
  • 500 g boned pork loin, cut into pieces
  • 400 g smoked pork sausages
  • 2 sticks celery
  • 1 carrot, thinly chopped
  • 200 ml white wine
  • 900 g canned chopped tomatoes, drained but juice reserved
  • 8 tbsp goose fat
  • 250 g fine dry breadcrumbs

Tips and Suggestions

The bean mixture and the broth may be made 1 day in advance and kept covered and chilled.

Method

1. The night before cooking the cassoulet, pick through the white beans, discarding any bad ones. Place the beans in a large bowl, cover them generously with cold water and leave to soak overnight. Drain.

2. Place the salt pork in a large saucepan of simmering water and simmer for 15 minutes, then drain.

3. Place the stock in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Add in the drained beans and the drained salt pork and bring to a simmer, skimming off any froth.

4. Add in the onion halves, whole garlic cloves, thyme, bouquet garni and season with freshly ground pepper. Simmer uncovered for 1 and a half hours, or until the beans are tender.

5. Discard the salt pork, the onions, and the bouquet garni and reserve the bean mixture and the broth.

6. Heat a large, heavy-based frying pan until hot. Add in the bacon and fry, stirring, until crisp. Remove and set aside.

7. Add the pork loin and sausage to the same pan and fry over a high heat until browned on all sides.

8. Add in the finely chopped onion, celery, carrot and the finely chopped garlic. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Fry, stirring now and then, until the vegetables have softened.

9. Mix in the wine and the tomatoes with their reserved juice and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring now and then.

10. Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas 6. In a large casserole dish layer the drained beans, 4 tablespoons of goose fat and the bacon mixture. Pour over a couple of ladles of the reserved bean broth, sprinkle over the breadcrumbs and top with the remaining goose fat.

11. Bake the cassoulet uncovered for 2 hours. Serve.

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