CASSOULET DE PORC ET DE MOUTON

CASSOULET DE PORC ET DE MOUTON (French white bean stew with pork and lamb, for ten to twelve)

For the pork loin:

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon ground thyme or sage

1/8 teaspoon ground bay leaf

pinch of allspice

½ clove mashed garlic

3 pound boneless pork loin, excess fat removed

4 tablespoons rendered pork fat, lard or cooking oil

heavy fireproof casserole just large enough to hold the meat

2 tablespoons butter, if needed

1 sliced yellow onion

2 cloves unpeeled garlic (optional)

1 medium herb bouquet (4 parsley sprigs, ½ bay leaf, and ¼ teaspoon thyme tied on a cheesecloth)

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1.  Mix the salt, pepper, thyme or sage, bay leaf, allspice and mashed garlic together and rub them into the surface of the pork.  Place in a covered bowl.  Turn the meat two or three times if the marinade is a short one, several times daily if it is of long duration.  Scrape off before cooking and dry the meat thoroughly with paper towels.

2.  Preheat the oven to 325*.  Place the fat in the casserole and set over moderately high heat.  When the fat is almost smoking, brown the pork on all sides.  This will take about 10 minutes.  Remove the pork to a side dish.

3.  Pour all but 2 spoonsful of the fat out of the casserole.  If the fat has burned, throw it all out and add more butter.  Stir in the vegetables, optional garlic and herb bouquet.  Cover and cook slowly for 5 minutes.

4.  Place the meat in the casserole, its fattiest side up.  Cover the casserole and heat it until the meat is sizzling, then place it in the lower third of the pre-heated oven for about 2 hours or to a meat thermometer reading of 180 to 185*.  Baste the roast 2 or 3 times during this period with the juices in the casserole, and regulate the oven so that the pork is cooking slowly and evenly.  The pork and vegetables will render about 1 cup of juices as they roast.

5.  When done, set the roast aside to cool.  Reserve the cooking juices.  (May be cooked several days in advance.  When cool, wrap and refrigerate.)

For the beans:

2 pounds (5 cups) dry white beans (preferably Great Northern)

8 quart kettle containing 5 quarts rapidly boiling water

½ pound fresh pork rind or salt pork rind

a heavy saucepan

1 pound chunk of fresh, unsalted, unsmoked lean bacon (or very good quality lean salt pork simmered for 10 minutes in 2 quarts of water and drained)

1 cup (4 ounces) sliced onions

a large herb bouquet, with garlic and cloves (6 to 8 parsley stems, 4 unpeeled garlic cloves, 2 cloves, ½ teaspoon thyme and 2 bay leaves tied in a cheesecloth)

1 tablespoon salt (omit if you are using salt pork)

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6.  Drop the beans into the boiling water.  Bring rapidly back to the boil for 2 minutes.  Remove from the heat and let the beans soak in the water for 1 hour (they will cook in the soaking water and the cooking should proceed as soon as possible after the soaking process is completed).

7.  While the beans are soaking, place the rind in the saucepan and cover with 1 quart cold water.  Bring to a boil and boil 1 minute.  Drain, rinse in cold water and repeat the process.  Then, with shears, cut the rind into strips ¼ inch wide.  Cut the strips into small triangles.  Cover the rind again with a quart of cold water, bring to a simmer and simmer very slowly for 30 minutes.  Set saucepan aside.  This process freshens the rind and softens it so that it will dissolve as it cooks with the beans.

8.  Place the bacon, onions, rind and it’s cooking liquid, herb bouquet and salt in the kettle with the soaked beans.  Bring to a simmer.  Skim off any scum that may arise.  Simmer slowly, uncovered, for about 1-1/2 hours or until the beans are just tender.  Add boiling water if necessary during the cooking to keep the beans covered with liquid.  Season to taste with salt and pepper near the end of the cooking.  Leave the beans in their cooking liquid until ready to use them, then drain, reserving the cooking liquid.  Remove the bacon or salt pork and set aside.  Discard the herb bouquet.  (This may be cooked 2 to 3 days in advance.  When cool, cover and refrigerate.  Bring just to the simmer before proceeding further.)

For the lamb:

2-1/2 pounds boned shoulder or breast of lamb, skin and fat removed

4 to 6 tablespoons rendered pork fat, pork roast drippings, goose fat or cooking oil (more may be needed)

a heavy, 8 quart, fireproof casserole

1 pound cracked lamb bones (some pork bones may be included)

2 cups (1/2 pound) minced onions

4 cloves mashed garlic

6 tablespoons fresh tomato puree, tomato paste, or 4 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped

½ teaspoon thyme

2 bay leaves

3 cups dry white wine or 2 cups dry white vermouth

1 quart brown stock or 3 cups canned beef bouillon and 1 cup water

salt and pepper

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9.  Cut the lamb into chunks roughly 2 inches square.  Dry each piece in paper towels.  Pour a 1/16 inch layer of fat into the casserole and heat until almost smoking.  Brown meat, a few pieces at a time, on all sides.  Set the meat on a side dish.  Brown the bones and add them to the meat.  If the fat has burned, discard it and add 3 tablespoons fresh fat.  Lower heat and brown the onion about 5 minutes.

10.  Return the bones and lamb to the casserole and stir in the garlic, tomato, thyme, bay, wine and stock.  Bring to a simmer on top of the stove, season lightly with salt.  Cover and simmer slowly on top of the stove or in a 325* oven for 1-1/2 hours.  Then remove the meat to a dish.  Discard the bones and bay leaves.  Remove all but 2 tablespoons fat and carefully correct the seasoning of the cooking liquid.  (May be cooked several days in advance.  When cold, cover and refrigerate the lamb in its cooking liquid.  Discard congealed surface fat before using.)

Final assembly:

8 quart, fireproof casserole that is 5 to 6 inches high – a brown earthenware glazed inside if typical, but other types of glazed pottery or enameled iron will do nicely

2 pounds kielbasa

2 cups dry white bread crumbs mixed with ½ cup chopped parsley

3 to 4 tablespoons pork roasting fat, goose fat or cooking oil

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11.  Pour the cooked and drained beans into the lamb cooking juices.  Stir in any juices from the roast pork.  Add the bean cooking liquid if necessary so that the beans are covered.  Bring to a simmer and simmer for 5 minutes, then let the beans stand in the liquid for 10 minutes to absorb flavor.  Drain and reserve liquid.

12.  Cut the kielbasa in half lengthwise, then into chunks, and brown it lightly in a frying pan with goose fat or oil.

3.  Cut the roast pork into 1-1/2 to 2 inch serving chunks.  Slice the bacon or salt pork into serving pieces ¼ inch thick.

14.  Arrange a layer of beans in the bottom of the casserole, then continue with layers of lamb, roast pork, bacon slices, sausage and beans, ending with a layer of sausage and beans.  Pour on the meat cooking juices and enough bean cooking liquid so that the liquid comes just to the top layer of beans.  Spread on crumbs and parsley, and dribble a spoonful or more goose fat or melted butter on top.  (This can be assembled a day or even 2 days in advance, but if the beans and lamb have not been freshly cooked, be sure to bring them to a simmer for several minutes before assembling, to prevent any possibility of spoilage.  When cool, cover and refrigerate.)

15.  If the casserole has been assembled in advance and refrigerated, cover and set in a 325* oven for an hour or so until the contents are bubbling.  If the casserole is freshly cooked, bring it to a simmer on top of the stove.

16.  Preheat the oven to 375* and set the casserole into the upper third of the oven.  When the top has crusted lightly, in about 20 minutes, turn the oven down to 350*.  Break the crust into the beans with the back of a spoon and baste with the liquid in the casserole.  Repeat several times, as the crust forms again, but leave the final crust intact for serving.  If the liquid in the casserole becomes too thick during the baking, add a spoonful or two of bean cooking liquid.  The cassoulet should bake for about an hour.  Serve from the casserole.  (The beans stay warm in a turned off oven, door ajar, for a good half hour, or you can keep them warm on a electric hot tray.  They will gradually dry out if kept too warm for too long.)

ASSEMBLED CASSOULET

Variations:

Preserved goose (confit d’oie).  Usually bought in cans at an import food store.  Scrape fat off the pieces of goose, cut into serving portions and brown lightly in fat form the can.  Arrange in casserole for final baking.

Fresh goose, turkey, duck or partridge.  Roast or braise any of these and carve them into serving pieces.  Use along with or instead of roast pork, arranging pieces with the beans for final baking.

Ham hock or veal shank.  Simmer either of these with the beans.  Cut into serving pieces before assembling with the beans for the final baking.

from Julia Child, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1

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