OK..this is not really anything to do with a cassoulet but it inspired me..and I love the word cassoulet…so good to get your tongue round..ca…sooo…lay….mmmmm! It is a great hearty dish for gathering friends round…you will need for about 6 needy folk:
60 gm lardons or pancetta or-at a pinch- smoked streaky bacon / 350 gm green lentils – Puy preferably / couple of sprigs of fresh rosemary / 1 red onion chopped / 2 cloves garlic finely chopped / 1 carrot finely diced / 900 ml chicken stock / 2 tbs olive oil / tbs red wine vinegar / tin of cannellini beans- meat can be all or any mix of the following – 4 pieces of belly pork, grilled or pan fried and cut into large chunks /good quality sausages -2 chipolatas per person was my choice last night – you could also add chunks of boiled or roasted ham hock, roasted chicken thighs or drumsticks…use your imagination.
I use a large stainless steel dutch oven – a pasta pan would be ideal – in which you pan fry the lardons til they start to colour, add then the onion, garlic and snip in the rosemary from one sprig. Fry for 2 minutes. Rinse the lentils..add to pan and fry for a minute tops. Add the stock and diced carrot. You could also add some celery if you wish. Season with black pepper – it may need a dash of salt but should not be necessary with the lardons and stock. Put lid on and bring to boil. Then pop in the oven with lid on for an hour at 160c.
After 50 minutes, I remove the pan and pour it all into a large roasting tin – add the meat and cannellini beans – put some foil over the top and return to oven – after an hour turn oven down very low to keep warm til you are ready to serve. Just before you take to table – stir in the red wine vinegar and a little more olive oil. I also roasted in my top oven, a tray of quartered potatoes in veg oil, sprinkled with sea salt, for an hour – adding some sliced cooked chorizo sausage for last ten minutes – gives the potatoes a lovely reddish tinge – a scrumptiously mouth filling delight- and I put a large basket of crusty bread on the table too. I put both trays of potatoes and the lentil dish on the table to serve from – and folk can also just dip their bread in as they desire!
Any leftovers are great the next day warmed through – though tis rare that there is anything left……!