Though I know it is only Friday, I thought I would give you this recipe so that you could make this on Sunday if you wanted to. It is one of those slow cooker recipes that you will have some leg work at the beginning, but be rewarded by a comforting and fantastic meal by dinnertime. Sunday has always been my very favorite day of the week for eating. Growing up at our house, this meant the day when it was going to be something special, something we didn't have on any other day of the week. It meant something that took more time, more work and was usually lingered over longer.
Not to long ago I got the email from Williams-Sonoma with Thomas Keller's recipe for a Cassoulet that could be made in a slow cooker. I have decided recently that I don't give my slow cooker hardly enough play lately, so I decided to give this a try. I made some modifications to the recipe, more to suit my tastes than anything else, and of course, since my slow cooker isn't the super fancy and oh so pretty one that Williams-Sonoma was selling, had to change some of the procedure. I think that the overall result turned out pretty darn good though and I enjoyed the process. I haven't ever had a Cassoulet, let alone an authentic one, so there is my disclaimer. We enjoyed it and it was definitely good comfort food.
So, should you decide that, maybe this Sunday, it is time for a nice, comforting meal that takes a little extra effort and care, and give your friends and family something different to talk about, then now you have Friday and Saturday to plan for this one. It does have a lot of steps, but none of them are difficult or confusing, so give this a try, and if you do, please let me know what you think.
I am trying to get back in the habit of cooking at least once or twice a week, and not just my usual routine of the same old stuff. I cook certainly, but I find that I am just making the same things over. Which, really, for the most part is just fine since it is what we love, but then again, how will I ever find new things to love if I am never trying new recipes.
So, while Mr. Keller's recipe called for enough ingredients to feed 8 to 10 people, since it was just for two people, I modified the recipe quite a bit and would still probably feed closer to 4 to 5 people. Other than that, as I mentioned before, it was to change up some of the ingredients due to what I had on hand, as well as what I like. It ended up being a departure from the original, but it worked out quite nicely. You can find the original recipe here, my version is below.
Slow Cooker Cassoulet
2 lbs. boneless pork shoulder country-style ribs
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 Tbs. canola oil
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
8 slices thick-cut bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch strips
2 cups coarsely chopped yellow onions (about 2 medium onions)
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomates
2 cups chicken broth
6 cups cooked Great Northern beans or other small white beans, drained
4 large chicken thighs
1 garlic head, halved crosswise
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish
1 lb. baguette, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices (you might not use all of it here)
Extra-virgin olive oil for brushing
Coarse sea salt, such as sel gris, for garnish
Season the pork generously with kosher salt and pepper; set aside. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, combine the canola oil and panko. Cook, stirring constantly, until the panko is toasted and golden, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer the panko to a baking sheet and season with kosher salt and pepper. Set aside.
Add the bacon to the skillet and cook until crisp on both sides, about 5 -7 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Reserve the bacon fat in the pan. Add the pork to the pan and brown on all sides, 7 to 8 minutes total. Transfer to a platter.
Brown the chicken thighs, skin-side down til golden and crisp, about 4 minutes, remove and set aside. Add the onions and 1/2 tsp. kosher salt to the insert and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and softened, about 7 minutes. Add 1 cup of the chicken broth and simmer until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, tomatoes and broth. Remove the pan from the heat and add ingredients to the insert of your slow cooker. To the slow cooker, then add the beans, pork, chicken and garlic. Place the insert on the slow-cooker base, cover and cook on low until the pork pulls apart easily with a fork, 6 to 8 hours. Skim off the fat, and remove and discard the garlic. Fold in the panko and the parsley. Adjust the seasonings with kosher salt and pepper.
Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat the broiler. Brush the baguette slices with olive oil. Arrange the slices, oiled side up, on top of the cassoulet, overlapping them. Broil until golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes.Let the cassoulet stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes before serving. Sprinkle each serving with the reserved bacon, sea salt and parsley.
Serves 4 to 6.
Adapted from a recipe by Thomas Keller, Chef/Owner, The French Laundry.