French Style Pork Cassoulet
Earlier this year, I enjoyed the most amazing food experience while travelling around France with my husband. French supermarkets feel like a cross between a market and a deli with amazing fresh fish, meats or charcuterie and cheese “departments”. Then there are the endless wine isles……
While visiting friends near Saint Emilion, they told us about a tasty dish they bought fresh from a local butcher in a large glass jar which was called Cassoulet. I discovered that cassoulet is sold all around France, in restaurants and also in the supermarkets in large cans. They all generally contained some kind of meat such as duck or pork, cannellini or haricot beans, Merguez or spicy Sausages and a rich tomato, garlic and red wine sauce.
I played around with different versions of this recipe and found that trimmed pork loins with all the fat removed worked well, cooked with the Merguez Sausages which I love! These are a red, spicy mutton or beef based fresh sausage from North African cuisine, popular in France. If you can’t find these in the UK, then don’t panic, Chorizo is fine to use instead.
To be truly authentic, I used duck fat to sauté the meat, leftover from a can of decadent Confit de Canard (duck canned in duck fat!) or sometimes there is a layer of duck fat you can reserve from the top of a pot of good quality duck pate.
The French use duck fat in cooking and it creates the most incredible flavour but you can also substitute butter or olive oil in my recipe. This together with the wine, spices, herbs, garlic and meat all produces the most delicious French Casserole which is a wonderful dish to cook for your husband, then enjoy Al Fresco in the Summer, with a lovely glass of French Red.
As Juila Childs once said, “Bon Appetit!”
300g of pork loin steaks with all visible fat removed
150g of Merguez (or Chorizo sausage)
1 tablespoon of duck fat (or butter or olive oil )
150g of chestnut mushrooms
1 small courgette
1 medium onion
4 crushed garlic cloves
400g can of drained cannellini beans
5 medium tomatoes
600ml of red wine
A tablespoon of any fresh mixed herbs eg parsley, marjoram and basil
1 tablespoon of tomato puree
1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
Sauté the chopped trimmed pork loin and sausages in the duck fat for a few minutes.
Add the onion, garlic, mushrooms and courgette then sauté for a few more minutes
Add the drained beans, tomatoes, herbs, tomato puree and red wine. Stir to combine everything.
Make sure you mix in any well roasted bits stuck on the base of the pan into the sauce. This is called deglazing.
Bring to the boil then cover and simmer on the hob on a low heat for 1 to 1.5 hours. Stir occasionally to make sure it doesn’t burn on the bottom. I remove the lid for the last half an hour of the cooking time to reduce the liquid to a nice thick rich sauce
You can also cook in the oven in a covered casserole dish for up to 2h on low.
Enjoy with fresh vegetables and potatoes or if you really want to push the boat out….duck fat roasted potatoes! You can garnish with more fresh herbs if you fancy but a glass of French red wine is essential to enjoy fully!