I mentioned in my latest post about book club that I planned to serve a fake cassoulet. It was well received! I started out with a recipe I found online, and then I altered it quite a bit, as I am wont to do. Here's the recipe, which I made up as I went along.
Busy Lady's Cassoulet
This is best made one to two days ahead for flavors to blend.
3 slices of thick bacon, coarsely chopped
2 lbs fully cooked smoked sausages, cut into rounds and casings removed (I used 1/3 Andouille and 2/3 kielbasa. Use all kielbasa for less heat.)
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 1/2 tsp jarred chopped garlic
1 T chopped fresh rosemary
1 T fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup red wine
3 15-oz cans Grest Northern beans, drained
2 14 1/2-oz cans diced tomatoes in juice
2 cups chicken broth (I used 1 cup water mixed with 1 tsp Better than Bouillon chicken base AND one cup homemade chicken broth I had saved in the freezer)
3 T tomato paste
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 to 2 cups chopped cooked chicken
Panko bread crumbs
2 T butter
Big handful shredded Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook bacon in a heavy large ovenproof pot (I used a cast iron Dutch oven) until brown and crisp. Using a slotted spoon, remove to a bowl. add sausages to drippings in pot and saute until brown. transfer to bowl with bacon. Add onions and garlic to pot and cook until beginning to soften. Stir in rosemary, thyme, and red wine. Simmer a minute, then stir in beans, tomatoes with juices, chicken broth, tomato paste, allspice, and cooked chicken. Return meats to pot and bring to a boil. Cover pot and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover, cool one hour, and refrigerate covered til next day or so.
When I was ready to continue the next day, I transferred the cassoulet to a rustic pottery baking dish I have because I wanted everyone to have some breadcrumb topping; the Dutch oven is deep.
To continue: bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes, adding more broth of dry. Meanwhile, melt butter and mix into panko breadcrumbs with a fork. Then mix in parmesan. Sprinkle over cassoulet. Increase oven temp to 400 degrees and bake uncovered til topping is golden.
This makes a delightful fall or winter meal and is much easier than traditional cassoulet. Crusty French bread is a natural accompaniment, as is a nice red wine. I served Bogle Cabernet Sauvignon.
Make plans to try it on a particularly chilly evening!