Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Poor Man's Cassoulet

One constant of being in charge of vittles for the Hackknife family is the continuing need to menu plan. Just when you think you're done for a bit, you realize that the next meal is just around the corner (it's not like we're skipping dinner, say, every Tuesday) and you've got to come up with your new dog-and-pony show (which often times resembles a meatloaf). This past Saturday night, I was faced with the option of punting (i.e., take-out pizza) or finding a reasonably simple dish to assemble for dinner and I found it in a pile of recipes from Mrs. Hackknife's cousin Glen (you'll recall that he's the source of the pork chop recipe from an earlier posting). Cassoulet is a dish consisting of meat, beans, and vegetables - essentially, a fancy French term for stew. The beauty (as is the case with most stews) is that you can throw in just about whatever you have left over in the fridge. We already had bacon, carrots, chicken, and fresh basil, so it was a pretty simple matter to get the other ingredients and cook it up.

(Editor's note: my bistro cookbook contains a cassoulet recipe that has, among other delicacies, duck confit in it, which is a multi-day undertaking in and of itself to prepare, so I don't believe we'll be attempting that one anytime soon).

6 slices bacon, chopped
1 cup onions, chopped
1 cup carrots, sliced
1 pound smoked sausage, cubed
1/2 pound chicken, cubed
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cans (16 oz. each) white beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes, drained
3/4 cup beef broth or bullion
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp basil, chopped
1/4 tsp thyme

In a large skillet or dutch oven, cook bacon pieces over medium high heat. Remove bacon and add carrots/onions to drippings. Saute until onions are golden. Remove and add sausage/chicken, cooking until browned. Remove meat and add wine to deglaze the pan. Heat wine to boiling and return bacon, onions, carrots, and meat to pan. Add beans, tomatoes, beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, basil, and thyme. Stir well and let simmer uncovered for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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