Saturday, January 11, 2014

A Casual Cassoulet

The menu term "cassoulet" can mean any hearty bean-based casserole.
It is pronounced (KA – sue-- lay) Today we will do a modern Crock Pot take on the original! This one uses less fat but retains the classic great taste and the elements that gave us both the Crock Pot and the casserole!

A Cassoulet is a rich, slow-cooked casserole that takes days to make. It originated in the south of France. The basic parts are white beans, poultry, and sausages. We can do this!

The dish is named after its traditional cooking vessel, the cassole, a deep, round, earthenware pot with slanting sides. This is where we get the word Casserole. It is also strangely like a modern crock pot so that is what we are going to use.

    3 15 ounce cans white beans, rinsed and drained
    2 tablespoons canola oil
    1 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat and cut into thirds
    1 large onion, chopped
    6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
    1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence Take the plunge and buy a bottle. You will be amazed at what this combination adds!
    ½ cup white wine balsamic vinegar
    1 reduced-sodium chicken broth
    ½ cup water
    ½ lbs low-fat turkey kielbasa, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces pre-cooked
    2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
    ¾ cup fresh whole-wheat breadcrumbs

Heat the oil in a 12 inch skillet over medium heat. Add chicken in a single layer and cook until out side is browned, turning once, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate. 

Remember when dealing with fresh garlic: hit the clove with the side of a broad knife, that will make peeling the skin off very easy. Then make a cut long ways to see if there is any green line inside, if so, pop that out with the point of the knife, it will make what you are cooking very bitter. You might think that 6 cloves of garlic are a lot but since this is cooking in the crock pot over a long time, the taste will mellow into a fantastic blend.

Drain the beans well!

Add onion to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes then add the garlic for another 2 minutes. Garlic cooks faster. After a total of about 5 minutes cooking. Add herbs and continue stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Pour in vinegar, increase heat to high and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits,(the fond), until it has reduced by about half, 1 to 2 minutes.

This step is called de-glazing. You might have heard this before, well this is where it comes from! It is traditional to deglaze the pot from the previous cassoulet in order to give a base for the next one. This has led to tall tales of a single original cassoulet being extended for years or even decades.
Spray your crock pot with cooking spray. Add broth, water, kielbasa, the drained beans, and chicken; Then pour contents of pan over the top. Cover and cook on low for 5 – 6 hours.

For a fancy topping:
Put ¾ cup fresh whole-wheat breadcrumbs and parsley in a no stick pan and heat over medium high heat until it turns golden and crisp and the parsley is fragrant. Serve in a small dish to the side for guests to sprinkle a spoonful over their portions.
You might want to go over the top with some bread that you just finish baking at home!
Definitely chill a bottle of a nice Pinot Noir (one of Master's favorites). Then prepare for some Ooh – La – La!

Slave enjoys treating Master Indy with something like this!

To satisfy and restore.
To nourish, support and maintain.
To gratify, spoil, comfort and please,
to nurture, assist, and sustain
..I cook!


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