One afternoon last week, Frank and I were watching Rudy Maxa, the Savvy Traveler, in Carcassonne and southern France – one of our favorite places in one of our favorite regions. Needless to say he included two of our favorite foods: Roquefort and cassoulet. After that we both knew what we wanted for dinner. We had no Roquefort on hand, but cassoulet? That I could do. Cassoulet is usually a slow-cooked mélange of white beans, pork sausage, maybe duck or goose (I usually use chicken) and other meats, along with the appropriate herbs and spices. There is no one definitive recipe – as I said, it’s a mélange you construct with the ingredients at hand.
So – I had too many cans of dark red kidney beans (free when Harris Teeter doubled dollars) so they substituted for white navy beans.
I had pork sausage, but it was the sweet Italian variety, not French saucisson. I had more pork in the form of thick cut bacon, so I cut that into nice chunks. Onions? I’m never without them. Garlic – if not fresh, then chopped from a jar (but don’t overcook it!) Some thyme, some winter savory, salt and pepper. A good squeeze or two from a tube of tomato paste, a slosh of white wine. I let it sit for a while to ‘flavor up’. (I even thought to take a quick picture for a blog entry.) Voila!
I do so love it when I come up with a tasty dish from what’s on hand – this was enough for four meals, so I froze half. I served it with a spinach salad, and it was excellent.