Archive for the ‘cassoulet’ Tag

Holiday Run Streak, 1-3 January and out   2 comments

casoullet 2015-01-01

Yeah, a picture of a giant batch of cassoulet is precisely the way the Holiday Run Streak (Saturday before Thanksgiving till Saturday after New Year) should be represented…that or a mountain of empty bottles.  I started working on the stew New Year Day to keep busy and take my mind off the hangover, then struck on the idea that I should have a few glasses of the wine I was cooking with, and a glass of port, then a bottle of prosecco, then a chianti with the casoullet.

casoullet 2015-01-01 b

Then a half bottle of Vin Santo with an enormous quantity of biscotti.

biscotti and vin santo 2015-01-01

Then, I went for the daily run…a little over 3 miles of heavy haulage:

2015-01-01 casoulet run

Friday I had to go to Oxford to get the lab started back up for the kids’ return from the holidays.  There is a point at which there is nothing to do but wait for the pumps to catch up for about an hour so I used that time to stretch out and go get some fresh air (a crisp but sunny noontime met me):

2015-01-02 penultimate run Oxford

Finally, the Saturday after New Year Day rolled around and I could put the Holiday Run Streak (43 consecutive days of at least 3 miles per day) to rest.  That is, after one final trot, this time starting in Trowbridge.  It was raining and cold at the 9:30 start but due to warm up (and rain even harder).  Fortunately, there were breaks planned and sites to take one’s mind off things.

Stallards Inn Trowbridge church

The course stuck to roadways at first because the permissive footpaths appeared to be flooded and the fields through which they passed were like soup.  My shoes remained relatively dry until Westwood where a water main break at the top of the hill added two inches depth to the flood.  Soon after the water spout, the road headed down a cliff to the Crossed Guns between the River Avon and the Kennet and Avon Canal.

Crossed Guns Avoncliff bridge

Assuming the K&A Canal tow path to be passable, I took to it after my beer (the Crossed Guns opened at 10).  Unfortunately, it was a slick, muddy mess right up to Bradford-on-Avon and my wet feet were then also coated in clay.

At stop 2, the Dandy Lion, I briefly considered leaving the shoes outside but saw that the floors were bare and decided to go on in as I was.  While there, the clouds lightened and I could make out the shape of the sun so I finished up the stout and headed out only to watch as the skies blackened the first half mile before the rain restarted falling at 45° from vertical. Soon enough, though, I was back in Trowbridge at the Stallards where I found a coal fire awaiting.  Warming by the hearth with a cider, I decided it was time to stop this nonsense and changed into my dry kit I had hauled around the previous nine miles.

Sunday, I rest from the Run Streak but with plans to start a ‘normal’ running schedule Monday.

2015-01-03 bradford loop


DT #201, 20 July 2014 (Thatcher’s Heritage)   1 comment

Thatcher's Heritage Clifton

The freezer was full,
Nought identifiable.

Name: Thatcher’s Heritage
Type: cider
Recipe: You can’t fuck up cassoulet and anyone who says they have the definitive recipe is some sort of psychopath…for instance, here is one version I’ve done in the past (linked here) and another here and another here.  The “American Indian Style Cassoulet”  presented here has nothing to do with traditional ingredients the Native Americans would use but, rather, gets its name because you use every bit of the carcass (that is, you empty the freezer and put everything vaguely cassoulet-ish in).  Here’s what this one entailed.

cassoulet start

150 g black beans
180 g potatoes leftover in the larder
287 g lamb cubes
215 g duck meat rendered from 650 g leg quarters cooked like confit (fat saved for cooking, bones for broth)
180 g leftover brisket
2 liters of soup from 6 tubs found in the freezer (accumulated over last 4 months)
500 mL venison stew sauce (heavily reduced wine in there)
500 mL defatted residue from the brisket last week (fat added to bacon drippings for cooking greens)
500 mL homemade salsa leftover from some nachos sometime the last several months
Dump all into slow cooker and leave on low for 6 hours. Yum.

cassoulet feast
Venue: The Clifton, Swindon

Review/notes: The Clifton was already a very good bar but now, depending on how you want to look at it, either it has become gentrified or improved.  It has DEFINITELY been tidied a bit and the garden was a very nice place to catch our breath on the long trudge uphill to Old Town after picking up some DIY crap over at Home Base.  We couldn’t linger, though, as we had some stew to overeat.

Thatcher's Heritage Clifton pump


[DT =Daily Tipple, explained in DT #000 here]

Monthly consolidations/compilations: January

Christmas Cassoulet 2013   3 comments

Instead of one giant Christmas meal that results in leftovers lasting days we have parsed the feasting to smaller bits (still with leftovers, mind) with the plan of having the annual cassoulet on the Day.  So, Sunday was roast pheasant (which left a whole bird and the leg quarters of another) to strip for part of the stew.  To the right, the duck offal can be seen boiling into a nice broth for part of the cassoulet effort:

cassoulet pheasant and duck offal broth

Monday we had a Tuscan style pasta (due to our Franco and Anna shopping) with some fennel sausages, a spinach a broth substitute for escarole soup, cannelini, tomatoes, and a shitpot full of garlic.  Amazingly, there is a small portion of this leftover but it wasn’t to be part of the cassoulet (although it could have been).  Tuesday, it was to be duck cooked as the ‘Amazing Five hour duck.’  Essentially, you put it in a 140° C oven turning and piercing hourly for 4 hours then brown it up at 170° C the last hour.We took the breasts and I freed the flesh from the rest for another stew layer.

cassoulet beans and offal in broth

I promised no lamb this year but that is traditional (both promising to leave it out and eventually putting it in — go ahead, there is a juvenile chuckle in there for you).  We always have some lamb and it is always a good part of the stew.  But, I have given up on finding the garlic sausage I want and this year just got a couple of smoked gammon steaks to chop into a layer instead of the sausages.

cassoulet duck carcass

The white beans soaked in the fridge overnight and went on the stove at breakfast to soften.  This year I went for fresh tomatoes, too.  The veg was a leek, some carrots, and celery cooked slowly till not-quite-soft in the fat of some pancetta (chopped and left in) and a blob of the duck fat.

cassoulet 4 pancetta  cassoulet 5 veg

And, the lamb sat in some salt and coarsely broken garlic until just before layering, then these were cooked quickly in the remaining fat from the veg effort.

cassoulet 6 garlic  cassoulet 7 lamb

The layering goes thus… tomatoes/spices/lamb-garlic/veg:

cassoulet layers 1  cassoulet layers 2  cassoulet layers 3  cassoulet layers 4

Then, duck/tomatoes/beans/sausage (I used smoked gammon instead):

cassoulet layers 5  cassoulet layers 6  cassoulet layers 7  cassoulet layers 8

And, the rest of the veg, more duck and the pheasant, the last of the beans, and more tomatoes:

cassoulet layers 9  cassoulet layers 10  cassoulet layers 11  cassoulet layers 12

And finish off with half a bottle of a decent white wine:

cassoulet layers 13

This should bake, covered, for an hour after it starts bubbling in a 180º C oven, then get pulled to cover with a mixture of bread crumbs, butter and parmesan cheese before going back in, uncovered until brown.  Eat until you pop open.

cassoulet served

Posted 2013/12/25 by Drunken Bunny in food

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Cassoul-eh   Leave a comment

There were  some lamb chops left over and some duck breasts in the freezer and I was starving after the 13.5 mile run with only ale and cider for fuel.  There was no time to make a proper meal with either of these, I thought, but rummaging the pantry I came up with this.  First, trim the fat close on the chops (and cut up some spring onions):

Pull the skin and fat from the duck breasts but render the fat with a little olive oil (to make up about a tablespoon or two once cooked down).

Throw an amount of chopped-after-crushed garlic that you think might be too much into the fat and oil, then one more clove; don’t let it burn, or do let it burn…it’s not bad, just different.  Throw the chops on top of the sizzling garlic and the duck (which by now has been cut up coarsely into pretty big chunks) on top of that.  Throw the spring onions in, too (what the hell, right?).  Forget about that stuff for a while and go rinse a package of beans (I had some kidneys that have been gathering dust):

When the smoke alarm starts screeching, stir the meat, garlic and onions and add some oregano (don’t be shy) and some hot peppers (I like it hot).  put the beans on top and add a splash of cherry juice (real stuff) and some heavy-handed glugs of dry sherry and bring the liquid volume up to not quite cover the mixture.  Stir again and put the battery back in the smoke alarm.

The liquid needs to concentrate so leave it alone for ten to twenty minutes.  If you are fussy you can stir it frequently, but if the smoke alarm battery is good you can go read some of the Sunday paper.  If you catch it before the alarm does, you may want to add a little more broth but you want it thick when you add the tomatoes at the last minute (I had a bunch of these little tomatoes that need to be used):

This is a very quick and tasty meal on its own but for a hungry boy like m’self, a healthy side dish might be appropriate.  Full preparation time was 40 minutes (compared to weeks for the version I do during the Winterval each year) and I have some to reheat for breakfast.  Yum.

Posted 2012/09/10 by Drunken Bunny in food

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Christmas Feasting 2011   7 comments

Cassoulet Step 1: Duck Confit

Cassoulet is my favourite winter dish, but it is supposed to be rustic, poor-people’s food and made from leftovers (which is why there are so many and widely varying recipes for it). A batch of cassoulet made from all the starting ingredients fresh from the grocer sets you back a few bob, but it is still well worth the effort.

My recipe, which is ever-evolving (here is last year’s batch, for comparison), uses either a roast duck or an ample amount of duck confit.  Confit is a way of preserving meats under duck or goose fat and lends quite a bit of class to inferior cuts–a 15th-century peasant preparation that the lord of the manor would appropriate as the years progressed.  The meat is salted heavily (more so than you might think is a good idea) then drowned in the fat and cooked at just over the boiling temperature for hours. Normally, you would just use leg quarters but this is for my extra special xmas and New Year’s cassoulet so I bought a whole Gressingham duck (4.5 kg) and cut it into pieces.  The breasts are a bit of an extravagance, but we really don’t treat ourselves too often.

The fat rises above the liquified connective tissue...yum

Salting as I went along, the pieces were layered pretty tightly into a slow cooker set on low to get things started. I had a tangerine that had a nick in it and I put it in, quartered, and sprinkled a few fennel seeds around and crushed a rounded tablespoon of pepper corns coarsely and dumped them betwixt layers.  I still needed to go pick up a couple of items at the store so the fat melting off the duck itself would have to do to start; I added another 500g later, along with some pork fat trimmings I found stored in the freezer from a roast last month.

Ready for storage, aging

Once some of the fat has melted into the dish, the temperature setting is turned to warm which will keep things at around 100-110 deg C.  This goes on for about 10 hours, now, during which time the meat absorbs the flavours and the connective tissue melts and dissolves.  Once cool, the meat is stripped and placed in tubs while the gelatin and fat separate and congeal. I don’t know a good use for the gel, so it gets tossed; the fat is remelted and poured over the meat to seal it from the air and airborne contaminants.

This is now ready to be stored.  Put it in a cool, dark cabinet and let it sit for a week or so before use.  Long-term, you should probably store it in the fridge (a month or so), or freezer (until you forget what it is).  A bit of freezer duck confit is always a nice surprise during one of those damp, spring cold snaps. The guys at the Alcoholian do an admirable (and less actionable) job of describing the process and shelf life.

Biscotti and Vin Santo

Discussed in an earlier post, just do it at every holiday and most weekends.

Christmas Eve, A Lighter Bite

I’ve mentioned how wonderful the tomatoes are in the kebab shops with no correlation in the or market stalls, but in the fruit and veg merchants in central Swindon they are sublime.  The little turkish market I walk past every evening has some of the best and at prices that boggle the mind (I would suggest they are involved in money laundering were they not my favourite stall on Manchester or Corporation).  I loaded up on these and some chicken breasts at the halal butcher up the street and a bunch of fresh parsley and other autumn niceties leading into the holiday.

The drill this Xmas Eve was to brown some shallots and garlic (shitloads, some would say) in butter and goose fat then just as the golden tinge hit seal the flesh of bird breasts in this purifying inferno.  Just barely, though, and then throw in many chunks of these heavenly tomatoes, some roughly split black olives, a spoon of crushed oregano, another of black peppercorns, likewise crushed, and a large handful of parsley.  Cover and stew with a cup of dry white wine for an hour then stir, run up the heat and dry it out a bit.  Serve it with a bit of fresh bread (a baguette, made here).  Yum.

Christmas day, make the rest of the Cassoulet

But, while we wait, why not a bit of champagne, pâté, and brie?

Render the fats, cook the other meats

Some butchery is necessary on the meats and as I bought a large shoulder of pork to use some of the other cuttings in stir fries and other dishes earlier in the month but at this point it is down to about 700-900 grams and some of that must be cut away and other bits were meant by the butcher to be roasted to cracklings.  No problem, in fact quite the opposite as I need some lard which I don’t generally keep and so used my butchery skills (duly earned in my earlier, youthful life) to trim this down for the purpose.

The lamb for the stew was also  a shoulder and I couldn’t get anything but a rolled bit at this juncture (my farming connections being somewhat scattered since the move from Bicester).  Again, no matter, but the trimming was a little more delicate, surgical, even.  The butcher did a great job and I especially like the marbling for myself but I don’t want the lamb fat there in something I share, especially when Jackie (who normally despises lamb and mutton) is the prime recipient.

Once the fat is rendered, the skins are pulled and stripped while the heat is turned as high as I can get it–until there is smoke–then the cubed, defatted meats are browned with a crisp surface and nearly raw centre.  I set these aside but collect the blood and other juices for the cassoulet.

Home made lard for the meats fry-up

Cook the beans

The beans are haricots blanches, 750g dry weight soaked in cold water overnight then rinsed.  The reserved pork skins from the rendering are put in the bottom of a stock pot and covered with the beans, two onions studded with cloves, half a pound of finely diced pancetta, a couple of stalks of celery, three carrots cut lengthwise and then in half again, a handful of parsley, some bay leaves, and a tablespoon of salt.  Instead of water, this confection is covered with duck broth and boiled for 1.5 hours before draining and throwing away the onions, parsley, pork skins, and celery.

Set the vegetables

Finally, a healthy dollop of duck fat is melted from the confit and heated hot but not smoking in the pan the meats were fried.  This pan is then filled with scallion greens (some cups), a couple of chopped onions, two cups of shallots, some chopped celery with the greens, several coarsely chopped carrots, a shitload of garlic, and just a pinch (5 – 10) of cumin seeds and two or three fennel seeds (no more, dear god!).  A parsnip or a few potatoes could be done, too, I hear but do not believe.  Remove from heat after the onions are clear but not yet golden.  Mix with the meats so they are all turned together, adding a pound of sliced, good quality garlic sausage or kielbasa.

Assemble and do the first baking

Ready to bake

Cut some tomatoes into large dice, say, quartered if they are really small.  Put enough on the bottom of your casserole (or dutch oven or whatever-you-have that will hold all this and still fit in the oven) so that they WOULD cover the bottom if you mashed them–you should see most of the bottom of the pan, though.  Add layers of beans, then meats and vegetables, then more tomatoes (being more generous after the first layer) in turn so the last layer is the meat and vegetable mixture.  This batch got half a bottle of Orvieto poured over it, but any crisp, dry white wine would do…I’ve used red wine in the past with stunning results.  Bake at 140-150 degrees C until bubbly and browning, about an hour.

First baking complete


You COULD buy bread...savages

This is one of the more contentious issues in cassoulet orthodoxy, and I’m told you really have to make a choice between the two ways but refuse to do so myself.  If you are a No-Bread-Crumbs person, just leave the pot in the oven another 45 minutes.

Is it ready, yet?

This batch is a bit kinky, though, and was removed from the oven then covered by a 1/2 inch thick layer of bread crumbs made by putting three slices of dry toast, a cup of parmesan-reggiano, and a knob of ice-cold butter into a food processor and reducing to dust.  This is then rebaked for an hour.

Merry Christmas and due to the copious leftovers, even with sharing, Happy New Year.  Well, once the wine cabinet is restocked….

Christmas does a number on the wine stores...

Posted 2011/12/29 by Drunken Bunny in booze, food, house

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