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Cassoulet - classic French chicken and bean casserole

What's The Big Idea?

Cassoulet is a hearty warming casserole, originating from the south west of France. There are many variations on the recipe, some extremely complicated, some less so. Some use duck, some (as in this case) chicken, others goose, lamb, pork or partridge! The recipe has been around for centuries, and regional variations have inevitably emerged. By all means, swap the chicken pieces for something else if you prefer. Every recipe seems to contain a slightly different combination of herbs for flavouring, so again, feel free to adjust this to your personal taste.

Traditionally, the haricot beans would be dried ones, which would need to be soaked overnight. This does result in an extremely tasty cassoulet, but is very time-consuming, so we've opted for the easy option and used tinned beans instead!

Shopping List

Here's the list of what you need:

  • 2 tablespoons goose fat (traditional) or vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1lb chicken pieces - thighs are good
  • 4 rashers of bacon, roughly chopped
  • 4oz button mushrooms, cleaned
  • 1lb Toulouse sausage, sliced
  • 2 x 400g tins white haricot or cannellini beans, drained
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato purée
  • 1 pint chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3 slices of bread, lightly toasted and made into breadcrumbs
  • Salt and black pepper

What To Do

  • Heat the oil or fat in a large flame-proof casserole. Pre-heat the oven to 200C/390F
  • Fry the onion and garlic in the oil until golden. Add the chicken pieces and fry until browned all over
  • Add the bacon and mushrooms and fry for a further 2-3 minutes
  • Now add the sausage, beans, tomatoes, tomato purée and stock. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer
  • Add the bay leaf, thyme and 1 tablespoon chopped parsley. Simmer gently for 20 minutes
  • Remove from the heat. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the top, and dot with butter. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes
  • Serve hot, sprinkled with the remaining chopped parsley

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