Cassoulet is a rich, slow-cooked casserole made with various meats, beans, and herbs. It is a great dish for a food hang as it offers a variety of choices to pick from and can be placed in the middle of the table and shared, self-served, on small plates or bowls. When paired with a good wine, this delicious dish creates the perfect vehicle for guests to converse and generally enjoy their time together. Picky eaters can choose the “easy” meats such as the chicken or sausage and the more venturous will fight over the pork pieces or the fat and skin of the ham hocks…my personal favorite.

This is a true meat lovers dish although vegetarian versions could be made, just not in my house. If god didn’t wish us to eat animals, he wouldn’t have made them out of meat.

The ingredients below are simply a suggestion. Duck or Rabbit could replace the chicken. The sausages could range from knockwurst to bratwurst to mild italian sausage to blood sausage. Experiment. Have fun. Everything in the dish becomes somewhat unrecognizable and I occasionally sneak something bizarre into it to test my guests. I get a kick out of seeing a picky friend take only the chicken, then go back for a second helping of veal hearts.

You’ll need:

  • Olive oil
  • 2 Ham Hocks (smoked)
  • 12 chicken thighs
  • 10 separated pork ribs
  • 6 knockwurst, cut at at angle, in half
  • 6 strips bacon, diced
  • 3 cans white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, cut in big chunks
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1.5 cups white wine
  • 1.5 cups chicken stock
  • 1Tblspn Thyme
  • 1 cups bread crumbs

Cook the bacon and brown the hocks together in a large casserole pot with a little olive oil using medium high heat. When the bacon starts to brown, remove the bacon and hocks and set aside.

Using the same pot, salt and pepper the pork and chicken, and sear them off along with the knockwurst. Remove as items are seared.

Add the onions, garlic, bay leaf, and thyme to the pot and saute. Once the ingredient become slightly browned, add the bacon back in and deglase the pot using the wine, making sure to scrape the tasty bit off of the bottom. Add the chicken stock, bring it to a boil, then turn off heat. Add the beans to the stock.

In the same large casserole (or lasagna pan if the pot is too small, cover with foil) add all of the meats. Arrange them as to disperse them evenly. Pour the stock/bean mixture over the top and cover.

Bake in the oven at 325º for 2.5 hrs.

In the last 20 minutes of cooking, remove cover (or foil) and top with a layer of breadcrumbs. When the top is browned, it is ready to serve. Let stand for 5-10 minutes and place on table with several serving utensils.

This will become a favorite for special occasions.

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