This post seems to be one that needs a few apologies. I know, the picture isn’t great. We are coming into the season where I am never near a kitchen during daylight, and with that comes some slightly off photography. Also, for the purists among you, I know this isn’t really in the strictest sense a cassoulet. It’s like a cassoulet light, all the taste with a reduced chance of ending up with gout after a few mouthfuls. Proper cassoulet from Languedoc is made just with beans and the contents of a farmyard (duck, pork, lamb, goose and sausage).
I had a lovely rich cassoulet last winter in Ma Bourgogne in the Marais that left me gasping for air and fully fortified to face the bitter Parisian cold. I remain convinced that Paris in winter is the coldest place in Europe. Northern Denmark seemed balmy in comparison when I returned. While there is a time and a place for that, this recipe takes a little of the meat and replaces it with juicy stock enriched lentils. It’s a lovely dish for the blustery weather we’re having, and one that actually tastes even better the day after its made. Dublin has a big Polish community and with that comes lots of Polish supermarkets filled with fantastic and inscrutably labelled sausages. Kielbasa is a good one to try with a nice garlic flavour that substitutes well for Toulouse sausage. This recipe serves 4 generously, especially if you have some nice crusty bread to accompany it.
- 3 medium onions, finely chopped
- 5 cloves of garlic
- 350g Kielbasa or good quality garlic sausage, sliced into 2cm thick slices
- 150g bacon, chopped
- 250g lentilles verts or puy lentils
- 1 x 400g tin of flageolot beans, drained
- 4 tomatoes, chopped, or half a tin of tomatoes
- 2 tsp tomato puree
- 300ml good chicken, pork or beef stock
- 150ml red wine
- 2 bay leaves
- 150g breadcrumbs
- Olive oil
- Cook the lentils for 10-15 minutes in a pot of boiling water with a bay leaf and a clove of garlic until chewy and almost completely cooked.
- Fry the bacon in a large ovenproof casserole with a little olive oil over a medium heat until starting to crisp.
- Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve.
- Fry the onion over a medium-low heat in the bacon grease until glossy and soft 6-8 minutes.
- Add the garlic and the kielbasa and cook for another 3-4 minutes.
- Add the bacon, wine, stock, bay leaf, tomato puree and tomatoes and cook for 15 minutes.
- Add the beans and the lentils and season well.
- Cook in the oven at 175C for 20 minutes until some of the liquid has absorbed.
- Top with the breadcrumbs and cook for another hour to 1 and 1/4 hour until the liquid has been almost completely absorbed, the cassoulet is bubbling and breadcrumbs are crunchy (if it is not cooking fast enough, you can reduce it a bit on the stove at the end, but this will make the breadcrumbs a bit soggy).
- Leave to sit for 10 minutes to rest and then serve.
- Alternatively, refrigerate overnight and reheat the next day.