Around two years ago, Sarah and I had a chance to go to France. Two of our dear friends have a home in a small village in the southwest of france. During our time there we often passed thru other small villages. One of which is seen widely as the birthplace of Cassoulet. It’s name sake is a peasant dish made of dried beans and various meats and fat. Traditionally this thick stew like dish is made from duck confit or the dish that the soup is cooked in is greased with duck or goose fat. These are things that aren’t really appealing to me. I had duck confit at a famous restaurant in New York a few years prior and it was so musky and strong that I literally couldn’t eat it. So part of me wanted to have this authentic dish prepared in its birthplace with the proper local ingredients and the rest of me would rather have eaten ANYTHING else.
As the trip was drawing to a close the idea of having that cassoulet had faded away until one night our friends neighbors invited us over for a dinner. At that dinner table on that night, we had cassoulet. While it was many things it was far from greasy, musky, heavy, or gross. It was truly fantastic. It was a comforting white bean stew with shredded duck meat and even sausage. It was hearty and filling, the two things you want in comfort food. It was a treat to have that dish made by that person from that area. Why am I telling you this? Is this that recipe? No. It is not. It is very different. However, sometimes just a slight similarity in flavor or texture can travel you thousands of miles to that table and the kind smile of new friend.
Todays recipe is a white bean cassoulet. Instead of duck fat we are using Olympic Provisions Sweetheart Ham and we are making a stock with habanero carrot curry sauce.
1 Cup Diced Ham (Olympic Provisions Sweetheart Ham)
4 Cans of White Beans, or 4 Cups soaked and Cooked White Beans
2 Cups Stock= 2 Cups of Water + 2 Tbs. Habanero Carrot Curry Sauce
1 Cup FInely Diced Carrots
1 Cup Finely Diced Celery
1/2 Cup Shallots (or Onion)
5 Sprigs of Thyme, prep by taking leaves off
4 Tbs. White WIne (optional)
Salt and Pepper to taste
1. Saute ham in a medium soup pot on medium high heat, until slightly golden.
2. Add in shallots and stir occasionally.
3. Add celery and carrots, cook until slightly tender.
4. Deglaze pan with wine.
5. Add in beans, thyme, and stock.
6. Bring to a boil and let boil for 10 minutes, stirring to prevent sticking.
7. Optional: Create a smoother consistency by pulsing with an emersion blender or transfer a cup or two to a blender or food processor, pulse and then return to pot to thicken the dish.
8. Salt and pepper to taste.