(This is Craig, the often maligned person mentioned in this blog. Since Karen is cooking our Saint Patrick’s day dinner, I offered to post what she wrote earlier, except I am adding my own editorial comments. This dish is absolutely wonderful. Do not, under any circumstance, substitute any of the healthy stuff she is suggesting.) Cassoulet is a slow cooked bean stew or casserole that originated in the south of France. It usually contains meat (most often pork sausages, pork, duck or goose) and white beans. The dish is named after the container that it was originally prepared in, a cassole, which is a round earthenware pot. Any large covered casserole dish will work; I generally use a Dutch oven or a porcelain enamel cast iron pan. Cassoulet traditionally is topped with croutons or fried bread cubes. In this recipe, in an attempt to make it a bit healthier, I have skipped the croutons and have used chicken thighs instead of duck. I did use kielbasa and you could make it a bit healthier still by adding a low fast chicken sausage to replace the kielbasa. (No way. Leave it in.) This is a pretty flexible recipe, if you can’t find leeks, leave them out, maybe add a bit more onion or you can use all white beans and skip the lima beans.
3 pounds chicken thighs
2 pounds kielbasa, cut into 1 or 1 ½ inch pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cans white beans, drained (about 16 ounces each)
1 can lima beans, drained (about 16 ounces)
3 cans diced tomatoes including juice from cans (about 16 ounces each)
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
2 leeks, coarsely chopped
1 cup shredded or chopped carrots
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
1 ½ teaspoons dried thyme
2 cloves of garlic
4 slices of precooked bacon, coarsely chopped
½ bunch parsley, coarsely chopped
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups chicken broth.
Remove skin from chicken thighs. In large sauté pan, add olive oil and chicken thighs to pan, brown chicken over medium high heat and turning until all sides are lightly browned. Remove chicken from pan, and place in Dutch oven or casserole dish. Add kielbasa, onion, leeks, beans, garlic, carrots, parsley, rosemary, thyme, bacon to sauté pan and sauté until vegetables begin to soften then add to casserole dish. Add canned tomatoes to casserole and mix with kielbasa. I like to leave the chicken sitting nicely on the bottom of the pan, so I can locate the bones. When it has finished cooking the chicken will fall off the bones. You could use boneless chicken but I think the bones add nice flavor to the dish. Roast at 300 degrees F for 3 hours. If possible, refrigerate for 24 hours, (in my opinion, this is an essential step) if you need to serve the dish, you are good to go, just know, it can only get better from here on out. Remove from refrigerator and put in 275 degree oven for 1 hour or until warmed through. If mixture is dry, add ¼ cup of chicken broth. What makes this recipe great is time, time and time. Once you have assembled the ingredients and put them in the pan, you can rest assured it will be good. If you have a bit more time and can let it cook and then reheat it, it will be great!