Cassoulet de Castelnaudary

We’ll get the winning score,

Oh hear our mighty roar.

Roar!

Rosbifs

There is the very specific male fantasy of being “called-up”. “Yes Batman, Robin’s sick, right”. The Japanese refer to it as:

small-boy-chosen-by-scientists-to-defend-nation-kon. When I was a complete bastard schoolboy we’d write notices up on the message board for a Claremont Football Club obsessed target of bile that, “Graham Moss called, you’re needed for the match this weekend” or just “Mossy’s on the phone”. I’d like to apologise for this. Anyway, where was I.. oh yes a French friend asked me to cook the main course for Bastille Day.

She lent me two books for inspiration Culinaria France and the

Roux Brothers Good Tastin’ Country Kitchen. The cassoulet I made is based mainly on the former but cross-referenced with the latter. It’s quite a process and I often can only get my head around things pictorially so here’s the flow chart that I scribbled up and gave to my friend. Have a look for the process, recipe, and a glimpse into what goes on in my head.

The cooking is quite simple, if lengthy – two days. The real task in making this classic French peasant dish is getting everything. The meat was no problem, I called Mondo Di Carne in Inglewood and they admirably got everything for me. The real problem was the Confits de Canard (preserved duck/goose legs). I tried Kitchen Essentials and got the very men’s boutiquish – “they are $120 a kg and we don’t have them”. With that and the $50 a kilo haricot beans, I decided a foodie values utility over extravagance and looked elsewhere. I tracked back to the Pressure Cooker Centre to ask the chatty French lady there if she knew. She pointed me to Herdies Fresh where I settled for a jar of duck fat. This jar has one of the most impressive Nutritional Guides I’ve ever seen.

Per 100gm serving

Kilojoules – 3724.38

Fat – 99.8gm

Sodium

Calcium

Cooking was easy, only danger was of passing out from pork and garlic fumes as I drove to the host’s house.

Our host’s Roquefort Soufflé served with lettuce with New Zealand dressing was exceptional, as was the chocolate mousse.

As for the cassoulet. It plays a mean trompe l’oiel*. It looks like sausage and bean casserole but tastes otherworldly. Try it. The humble becomes the exalted – revolutionary in fact.

Vive La France!

FootnoteHistory buffs, and I do mean buff, can research further at Angelina Jolie and the French Revolution where “the tedious soup-plate symmetry of artificial enhancement” meets “St Just invoked the “male energie” of the republic”.

*eggcorn?

6 comments

  1. Jeanne’s avatar

    Aaaaarrrrgh!! I haven’t been at work for 2 hours yet and I’m already drooling. There’s going to be hell to pay when IT has to come and clean my keyboard AGAIN!

    I have always wanted to make (or even eat!!) cassoulet, but like Bouillebaisse, it looks like a 5 day match, rather than limited overs – especially when you include the scavenger hunt style shopping that precedes it. But maybe one day… Looks delicious – and I love the authentic French Le Crueset casserole dish. Nice touch, mate!

    Oh, and whoever is responsible for the styling of the chocolate mousse deserves an award!

  2. Santos’s avatar

    that cassoulet looks wonderful. do you have access to duck rillettes? it’s gilding the lily, but some grilled bread spread with the spiced duck rillettes could really take the meal OTT (and diner into the cardiac wing, maybe)

    |*eggcorn?

    whenever a pregnant boutiki (house gecko–you know, the translucent variety) hangs out on the outside of my kitchen window, i’m reminded that there’s a ham bone in the freezer that’s just begging for some cannellini beans….so when you speak of trompe l’oiel i’m not thinking of eggcorn|boutiquish

    boutiki-sh, more like.

  3. Anthony’s avatar

    Jeanne
    I loves me French Le Crueset casserole dish.
    Secret is a kind and understading butcher.Will pass the award on to Jospehine and apologise to Veronique for her souffle photo not coming out. Rob’s

    Santos,
    Rillettes! Saw them at the shop but for a whopping $18 a jar and that was eating into my booze budget. Might have to reassess my priorities.
    Egg cornsHope that cute little feller isn’t going in the soup.

  4. Reid’s avatar

    Anthony,

    What a wonderful cassoulet. Since I’m not a fan of clogged arteries, I rarely indulge in French food. But this looks as good as any that I’ve tried previously…the last time actually was when I lived in New York about 10 years ago. Went to a wonderful French restaurant called Bernards.

    BTW…you do some serious cooking at times. Most of the dishes you make would simply overwhelm me.

  5. Anthony’s avatar

    Reid

    As you know, I’m a very serious man. Time, care and preparation are the three easiest things in cooking, I keep well away from anything involving craftsmanship and fine judgement. Best challenge is deciding on a stupidly large range of dishes and having a dozen more people than you should have and going for it. A whole day of manic cooking is the best buzz this side of bike+fast corner.

    Yeah serious amounts of fat went into this dish but,when French die of heart disease they die to Edith Piaf.

  6. Anonymous’s avatar

    If you were to venture near Toulouse or anywhere in South France with this recipe you would be shot at dawn, for a week. This is not a Cassoulet but a mutant bastard. For the real deal, and instructions how not to make a mockery of the dish, read Elizabeth David’s recipe in ‘French Provincial Cooking’

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