Saturday night I put some tepary beans in a bowl to soak though I didn't have a particular plan for them other than just wanting to make a rainy day bean soup for Sunday dinner. By morning a cassoulet sounded like a better idea, but I didn't have any duck confit and the only sausage I had was an Andouille...which made me realize that I DID have on hand everything needed to make a cassoulet with a New Orleans drawl--a meaty smoked 2 lb pork shank from an organic farm in Oregon, an Andouille sausage instead of garlic sausage, and a frozen package of chicken thighs to stand in for the duck confit. For seasoning: more herbs, celery and pepper. For garnish--a spear of fried okra. I also had fresh artichokes, which I learned from Chef Carey's book Contemporary Creole Cookery "was introduced to Louisiana long before it went to California", to serve as a starter with a garlic aioli. Bingo! I had both a thematic dinner plan and a fun, challenging food project to occupy my day.
Later, inspired by Christian's post about leftover buttermilk, I added a green onion skillet cornbread. Our wine was a '98 Chapoutier La Bernardine CdP.
So how was it? Well, Bob rated it a 10 and I can offer that I would not be ashamed to serve this dish to either cassoulet expert Betty Lu Kessler or New Orleans native Chef Carey.
Though I tend to work without measurements, I made mental note of what went in and the following recipe's definitely a keeper.
1 lb dried white tepary beans, soaked overnight
2 sprigs fresh parsley
1 bay leaf
3 whole cloves
10 black peppercorns
2 lb smoked pork shank
3 large shallots, finely diced
2 ribs celery, diced
6 cups chicken stock
2 medium tomatoes, large dice
In a large Dutch oven style pan, saute the onion and celery together until softened, then add the remaining ingredients. Simmer for about 45 minutes--beans should just-tender at this point.
6 chicken thighs with skin
1 andouille sausage, cut into 1/2" thick slices
6 large cloves garlic, sliced
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp white pepper
While the beans are simmering, do some browning in another skillet. First the sausage, then the chicken, then the garlic. Remove all and reserve.
When the beans are ready, remove about two cups of the cooking liquid and reserve. Add the chicken pieces, skin side up, and the remaining seasoning. The liquid in the pan should just barely reach the chicken skin. If it doesn't, add more--you'll eventually feed all of it to the dish as it bakes.
Place the pan in a 350 degree oven and bake for two hours, checking frequently to keep the dish from getting dry. About ten minutes before serving, remove the pork shank and pull the meat from the bones with a fork. Add the meat back to the cassoulet and add this topping:
Three cloves garlic, minced
2 T olive oil
3/4 c panko bread crumbs
1 T chopped fresh parsley
cayenne pepper to taste
In a small skillet, soften the garlic in the olive oil and then add the remaining items. Sprinkle over the cassoulet, then return to the oven to bake until golden, about ten minutes.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov