Healthy, Hearty Cassoulet

Cassoulet is one of those hearty French dishes that always reminds me that the heart and soul of French cooking is rustic food made with the best ingredients. This is pretty much the opposite of haute cuisine, but that’s what I love about French food. You can find perfectly presented dishes with 30 or 40 steps in the presentation but to me, a one pot of cassoulet made with the best ingredients is just as special! This is best served with some crusty bread and a good glass of red wine. It only improves if made the day before! The key to this is using a small amount of the best sausages you can find as well as decent red wine. It may seem a lot of ingredients but once you have got them all ready to go, its a case of adding them to one pot at the right time and that is about it!

Cassoulet:

Yummy Cassoulet

Yummy Cassoulet

Serves 6, 6pp per person

  • 1 tspn good olive oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 6 (around 250g) really good quality sausages, cut into three or 4 pieces each (I got some from my butchers)
  • 2 chicken breasts, sliced into chunks
  • 3 or 4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into chunks.
  • 2 celery sticks, cut into sizeable chunks
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed or finely chopped
  • 2 rashers of bacon or bacon medallions, cut into small pieces
  • 2 tins chopped tomato
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree or tomato paste
  • small glass good red wine ( about 120-150 ml….you can use the rest for the chef!)
  • 100ml water
  • 1 tspn sugar or sweetener
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tspn dried oregano
  • 1 tspn chilli flakes
  • 200g chickpeas (the large cans have 400g but only 200g when drained)
  • 200g cannelini beans or butter beans (same as above)
  1. Heat olive oil in a deep casserole and add the sausage chunks. brown the sausages on all sides and add the onions. Fry these until slightly coloured and softened but not burnt!
  2. Next fry off the chicken breast pieces until they are browned on each side. Stir in the garlic and bacon and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the carrot and celery and stir well so they get covered with the juices in the bottom of the pan. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste, red wine, water and sugar. Stir well and the add the bay, oregano and chilli.
  4. Last but not least add the chickpeas and beans and give everything a good stir. Bring to the boil and either simmer for 45 mins or pop into an oven at 180 degrees celsius for 45mins.
  5. After 45 mins, test the thickness of the sauce, I find i need to add 100-150ml of water to the mix to make a nice silky sauce.
  6. Serve in a deep bowl with some crusty French bread and some of that leftover vino!

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