Chicken Cassoulet

Sorry this is a bit of a rushed post today, but the recipe is fantastic. I have made it every week for the last month. As the winter months are rolling in I find myself wanting comforting one-dish dinners that warm me up just as much as they fill me up. This one definitely fits the bill. It’s great because it’s really variable by changing a few simple things. The type of sausage you use makes a big difference as does smoked vs unsmoked bacon. You can also do the dish with traditional duck or any other kind of poultry. Lately I’ve been using chicken because it’s cheap and I’ve been trying to practice my butchering skills (I have totally murdered a few breast cuts). For me, this is one of those dishes where I will always cook way too much and then just leave on the stove to be heated up the next day. So long as you slowly bring the juices to a boil everyday and make sure it doesn’t dry out by adding stock as necessary, this dish has a surprisingly long stove life. It’s an easy dish to have multiple times a week without getting bored because you can play with the side dishes: a cassoulet is great served with mashed potatoes, pasta, or sautéed potatoes.This is a super easy, yet impressive, dish to do for a crowd. Plus, it’s practically a pantry dish which makes it handy for those impromptu dinners, hence my love for it. Warning: this definitely not a pure breed south France version of a cassoulet (they wouldn’t even grace it with the title Cassoulet), but I still think it’s yummy!

Serves 5-6

  • 150g cooking back bacon (if you can’t get cooking bacon, just use regular)
  • 6 sausages (I like a spicy italian one like uncooked chorizo, but you can use whatever you like or whatever you have handy)
  • 1 chicken sliced into individual cuts (i.e. 2 chicken drumsticks, 2 thighs, 2 breasts. I usually just buy a chicken and do the butchering myself, I just find it easier)
  • 2 onions
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • olive oil
  • ~1/4 cup red wine
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1 can cannellini beans (you can use any white bean if you can’t find cannellini)
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes
  1. Cut the chicken breast down into three equal sized pieces so that they will cook in the same time as the other cuts.
  2. Slice the bacon into small pieces.
  3. In a large cast iron pot (or a big pot if you don’t have cast iron) over medium heat slowly cook the bacon pieces to release the fat. Ideally, you will release enough fat to brown all the meat without any olive oil, but I usually find I need a couple teaspoons of oil as well.
  4. When the bacon is cooked, remove it from the pot and set it aside.
  5. Turn the heat up to medium-high.
  6. If there isn’t enough bacon fat to fully cover the bottom of the pot, add some olive oil until it does.
  7. As the oil is heating, slice the sausages into 1.5″ long sections.
  8. When the oil is hot, use a pair of thongs to set the sausages in the pot cut side down. You want to brown up the cut side to seal the edges so all the meat doesn’t seep out. There will be a lot of spitting oil for the next while so now would be a good time to put on a apron.
  9. Once one cut edge is nice and brown, flip the sausages over to the other cut side.
  10. Remove the sausages from the pot once both cut edges are nice and brown and caramelized.
  11. Add more olive oil to the pot if necessary to keep the bottom completely covered. By now you should be getting a nice brown colour to the bottom of your pot. This is a very good thing, lots of flavour lives there.
  12. Turn the heat up a tad more to brown the chicken. When browning chicken the two worst things you can do is crowd the chicken in the pot and have too little oil. If you crowd the pot, the chicken will start to cook instead of brown and if you have too little oil the meat will stick to the bottom of the pot.
  13. Once the oil is hot, add a few pieces of chicken to the pot.
  14. Leave the chicken alone until one side is nice and brown then flip it.
  15. After both sides have been browned, remove the chicken pieces from the pot and set them aside.
  16. Repeat until all the chicken has been nicely browned.
  17. Turn the heat down to low.
  18. As you wait for the oil to cool, slice both onions and finely dice the garlic.
  19. Add the onions to the pot.
  20. Cook the onions until they become translucent then throw in the garlic.
  21. Once the garlic becomes soft, remove both the onions and garlic and set aside.
  22. Now it’s time to de-glaze the pan. Turn the heat up to high again and pour in the wine.
  23. When the wine starts bubbling, use a wooden spoon to scrape up all the flavour from the bottom of the pan.
  24. Turn the heat down to medium low once the liquid has reduced by half.
  25. Drain and rinse both cans of beans.
  26. Pour one can of diced tomatoes into the pot.
  27. Add one can of beans.
  28. Next add all the bits your have browned and cooked: the chicken, the bacon, the sausage, the onions, and the garlic.
  29. Top it all off with the last can of beans and the other can of diced tomatoes.
  30. Put the lid onto the bot and allow it to cook away for half and hour at medium low heat.
  31. Take the lid off for a final hour of cooking.
  32. Allow the cassoulet to cook for 10 minutes to thicken before serving. If you don’t want to burn your mouth, let it sit.
  33. Serve it up with a big ol’spoon and enjoy :)
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