I am hoping the use of a slow cooker produces better results than my soup pot did when I tried making this last winter. It was not a big hit, which is saying a lot in a house that loves sausage and bacon.
Beloved by generations of French cooks, cassoulet is a rustic, slow-cooked dish made with white beans and a lavish assortment of meats, from duck confit or foie gras to sausages and succulent cuts of pork, lamb or poultry. This recipe features an adaptation of the Languedoc specialty from Thomas Keller, the internationally acclaimed chef of The French Laundry, in Northern California.
- 4 lb. boneless pork shoulder, cut into 8 pieces and trimmed of excess fat
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 2 Tbs. canola oil
- 1 cup panko
- 4 oz. thick-cut bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch strips
- 4 cups coarsely chopped yellow onions (about 3 medium onions)
- 2 cups dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1 can (35 oz.) peeled Italian plum tomatoes, drained and
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 12 cups cooked Great Northern beans or other small white
- 1 1/2 lb. fresh chorizo sausage, each halved on the bias
- 1 garlic head, halved crosswise
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish
- 1 lb. baguette, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
- Extra-virgin olive oil for brushing
- Coarse sea salt, such as sel gris, for garnish
Season the pork generously with kosher salt and pepper; set aside.
In the stovetop-safe insert of a slow cooker over medium-high heat, combine the canola oil and panko. Cook, stirring constantly, until the panko is toasted and golden, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer the panko to a baking sheet and season with kosher salt and pepper.
Add the bacon to the insert and cook until crisp on both sides, about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Reserve the bacon fat in the insert.
Add half of the pork to the insert and brown on all sides, 7 to 8 minutes total. Transfer to a platter. Repeat with the remaining pork.
Add the onions and 1 tsp. kosher salt to the insert and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and softened, about 7 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until reduced by half, about 8 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, tomatoes and broth. Remove the insert from the heat and add the beans, pork, chorizo and garlic.
Place the insert on the slow-cooker base, cover and cook on low until the pork pulls apart easily with a fork, 9 to 10 hours. Skim off the fat, and remove and discard the garlic. Fold in the panko and the 1/4 cup parsley. Adjust the seasonings with kosher salt and pepper.
Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat the broiler.
Brush the baguette slices with olive oil. Arrange the slices, oiled side up, on top of the cassoulet, overlapping them. Broil until golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes.
Let the cassoulet stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes before serving. Sprinkle each serving with the reserved bacon, sea salt and parsley. Serves 8 to 10.
Adapted from a recipe by Thomas Keller, Chef/Owner, The French Laundry. Courtesy Williams-Sonoma.