Cassoulet

From Academic Kids

Cassoulet is a rich slow-cooked bean stew or casserole originating in the southwest of France, containing meat (typically pork sausages, mutton, or goose), and white haricot beans. Numerous regional variations exist, the most notable being from Castelnaudary, the self-proclaimed "Capital of Cassoulet," where the casserole contains only beans, pork and the local sausages, from Carcassonne, or from Toulouse, where, if it is not cooked with spicy Toulouse sausage and confit d'oie, goose macerated in herbs and salt then preserved in its own rendered fat, it is not a traditional cassoulet Toulousain.

Haute cuisine versions demand pre-cooking of roasted meats separately from beans simmered with aromatic vegetables, but this runs counter to cassoulet's peasant origins. The dish is named after the cassole, the distinctive oval covered earthenware pot in which cassoulet is ideally cooked. In the process of preparing the dish it is traditional to deglaze the pot from the previous cassoulet to give a base for the next one. This process leads to several (possibly apocryphal) reports of the original cassoulet being extended for years or even decades. The American poet, writer, and raconteur Maya Angelou tells of serving cassoulet to the food writer and connoisseur M. F. K. Fisher, prepared in new pots still with great success ("M.F.K. Fisher and A White Bean Feast" in Hallelujah! The Welcome Table).

Cassoulet is available throughout France and cans of it are sold in all supermarkets. Castelnaudary is the location of France's largest manufacturer of canned cassoulet: Spanghero (http://www.spanghero.fr).

All culinary traditions that include dry beans have techniques for giving them the long, slow cooking in a covered vessel that they require: compare Feijoada, Fabada Asturiana, baked beans.fr:Cassoulet de:Cassoulet pt:cassoulet

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