Although I am not going to get into the nitty -gritty, I will tell you that I have had a good-sized bad week and I was in dire need of some comfort food. I wanted baked beans, and I make them every week for market, so they were in good supply- but I wanted something to make me feel better. Alot of our customers are vegetarians, so I don`t add any meat products to them (funny- none of the old men have noticed that the pork is missing…..), so it`s really onions, ketchup or tomatoes, ground mustard, molasses, brown sugar, cider vinegar, s&p and, of course, beans. Tasty, but it needs a little Chuck Norris round kick or something… Enter the Cassoulet.
Ever since I promised (please note I said promised, not `I made…`) Matt that we would have Cassoulet for Easter, I have been really wanting to make it. Cassoulet is a french dish made with white beans and pork sausage, it does get a little ambiguous about the meat in it- some call for duck confit, other rabbit, mutton meat, all of which would probably taste in varying degrees of delicious- slow baked until tender, then topped with fried bread cubes, crispy pork fat or another French garnish.
I guess in a way this week was a good week to have a quasi-meltdown minus the quasi- we`ve been making sausage all week, I had a pail of pork stock , plus a few extra goodies I`ve been holding onto for an occasion such as this. I am pretty certain you can NOT go wrong with chorizo, duck confit and bacon…. So, below is a recipe for the ultimate bean-based comfort food- for meat eaters.
Super Awesome Baked Beans
I should make a note that I do not believe in giving EXACT measurements in cooking- baking is exact measurements, cooking is driven by feeling. I liked this bean bake better after adding a bit of molasses, taste – adjust, taste – adjust….. If you hate molasses, use brown sugar, or leave it out altogether….
1 roughly 180 g bag of white pea beans
2 onions, diced
2 lbs fresh chorizo, casing removed
2 legs of duck confit, shredded
as much bacon as you have available, diced
1 19 oz can of tomatoes
In a large pot, cover beans with cold water and soak overnight. If you’ve never soaked beans before, make sure you cover them by about 6 inches of water- too little and you’ll have hard beans on top, too much doesn’t exist unless you use a bathtub or swimming pool.
The next morning, simmer beans until they start to break apart, 45 minutes to an hour- I always eat one and make sure that the center has no hard core. Drain beans.
For this step, I use the pot that is going in the oven to bake the beans- I hate extra dishes. While the beans are simmering, saute chorizo until fat has rendered and is starting to brown, about 20 minutes over medium-high heat. Drain and reserve. Saute bacon over medium heat until it starts to brown- add onions and saute to soften. Drain excess fat.
Add drained beans to bacon, along with chorizo, shredded confit (I kept the leg bones and duck skin to add extra flavour, remove both before eating), and some chopped thyme. Cover beans with pork stock (chicken, beef, duck, elk, veg stock- pretty much anything but water), then add a can of tomatoes. Place in a 350F oven for about 4 hours or until is has cooked down and melded together- make certain to stir this often to prevent hot spot burns.
I had no need to season with salt as the confit, bacon and sausage took care of this. As mentioned previously, I added a little molasses for sweetness. Eat as a side dish, as comfort food or on toast. (YUM!)