On The Loose: “Cassoulet” in a Slightly-Toulousian Style

The fortified Berber village of Ait-ben-Haddou in the Moroccan Sahara
The fortified Berber village of Ait-ben-Haddou in the Moroccan Sahara

Sup everyone! Been vagabounding quite a bit lately, visiting Morocco, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, and various parts of France with my trusty travel companion (aka my brother). While we have definitely gotten into

Urban Sprawl in Frankfurt, Germany
Urban Sprawl in Frankfurt, Germany

many arguments and dealt with a constant storm of drama, the trip has still been totally worth it because I get to spend time in one my favorite places ever, Nimes. I have certainly written about this gem of a city before, but to quickly recap, Nimes is an ancient-town in the Southern-French region of Languedoc-Roussillon, and we have had the pleasure to own a second home here for the past three years. This is perhaps the most time I have spent in the apartment, and the amount of life buzzing around here lately has done nothing but make me love it even more. The struggle is going to be real when we have to return to reality on Monday (via Paris).

sausagesNaturally, I love experimenting with French flavors whenever I’m here. When I’ve got the energy, I will walk into town to shop at the Marche des Halles, but the local Carrefour around the corner can suffice when one is too lazy, which is usually the case on Sundays. Perhaps it was a better choice, for it means that one does not need an open-air market to obtain the ingredients used in this recipe.

Cassoulet is a meat and bean casserole from the city Toulouse, located in the set tablesouthwest part of France. Before I continue, I must put out a disclaimer that I have never been to Toulouse, nor have I had this dish before. My desire to try it out at home only came when I spotted a package of Toulousian-style sausages sitting in the meat section. Immediately inspired, I ran around the grocery store picking up ingredients that would probably be needed: cannellini beans, tomatoes, carrots, and a bouquet garni of rosemary, thyme, and bay leaves. Stewed together for a little under an hour without any of the other traditional cuts of pork that are typically featured, this really isn’t anything near to the original. Slightly Toulousian in name, but possibly a little Tuscan in character, this hearty meal has gotten itself a spot now on my list of Sunday lunch favorites.

cassouletRecipe: Cassoulet

A CookingFever Original

  • 1 medium white onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium carrot, sliced
  • 14 oz can tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, optional
  • 1 bouquet garni (assembled with a couple of sprigs of rosemary, thyme, and bay leaf)
  • 2, 14-oz cans cannellini beans, drained
  • 3 Toulouse-style sausages, chopped into inch-sized chunks
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Methodsaute

  1. Heat up some olive-oil in a heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat. Once warm add the onions and sauté for about five minutes, until translucent
  2. Add the garlic and sauté for a minute longer, followed by the carrot, tomatoes, bouquet garni, and cumin, if using. Cook for about five minutes more, until the flavors have blended together.
  3. Add the beans and enough water to submerge them. Simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Cook the sausages over high-heat in a frying pan for about 3 minutes, till they are browned all over. Add them, along with any juices, to the beans and simmer the entire mixture for another 15-20 minutes more. Adjust for seasoning as needed.
  5. Remove the bouquet garni before serving the cassoulet with plenty of crusty baguette for sopping up all the delicious liquid.

Cooking Notes

  • The cumin is completely non-traditional, but I feel it adds a nice smokiness that is needed when one is not using the full repertoire of meats typically in this dish.
  • It’s likely that Toulouse-style sausages might not be available in your area. As they are on the sweeter-side with notes of garlic, a sweet-Italian or simple pork sausage can also work as a good substitute
  • Ideal wine pairing for a cassoulet would definitely be a dryer and slightly minerally red to counteract with the tomatoes. However, if you’d like to take a walk on the wild side, go ahead and experiment with a crisp white, such as I did with a glass of viognier.
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4 thoughts on “On The Loose: “Cassoulet” in a Slightly-Toulousian Style

  1. When is the book coming out with your original recipes? Hope you have or are going to create some original recipes for vegetarian dishes!

  2. Wow, Rahul, I love your journeys through some of my favorite European cities and Nimes sounds just perfect for your recipe. A must try with hearty stew flavors…& crusty baguette for dipping:)

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