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Poor man 's cassoulet - -12/14/13

Cassoulet is a rich slow-cooked casserole originating from the south of France.  The traditional cassoulet de Toulouse has pork belly, sausages, goose, duck, mutton (meat of adult sheep), sometime you can also find pork skin (couennes) and white beans (haricots blancs).  There are so many variation of cassoulet depending on each region you are visiting but the base of the dish is made with beans. 

Here I am making a simple version using only one type of meat: pork belly, and it is nothing compared to a real cassoulet but trust me it is still excellent and satisfying.  This dish makes generous tapas portions, even for six people, and would also work as an entree for three or four.  The recipe calls for duck fat  but you can replace it with olive oil if you can't not find duck fat.  However, duck fat is preferred as it unites the flavors and gives the finished dish a better taste.

Cassoulet is a comfort food, when it is miserable outside, all you need to do is to eat this dish with a nice glass of wine and life will be brighter.

I garnish on top of the cassoulet a bunch of crispy croutons sautéed with butter.  The croutons add a nice crispy texture to the dish.

Close look at the dish.


Preparation work..


1/3 cup rendered duck fat

2 to 3 pounds pork belly

1/2 cup coarsely chopped peeled carrots

1/2 cup coarsely chopped celery

6 garlic cloves, chopped

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

2 whole cloves

1 large, ripe tomato, cored and cut in 3/4 inch

2 table spoons tomato paste

2 cup dried white beans, picked over, rinsed, and drained

3 cups chicken broth

1 bouquet garni or 3 to 4 thyme sprigs, 1 bay leaf, and 4 to 6 sprigs flat leaf parsley, wrapped in a cheesecloth sachet or tied with kitchen twine


4 pieces of bread, cut into small cubes.















***1st thing you need to do is to soaked the beans in cold water for overnight.

Cut the pork belly into small pieces - 3 to 4 inches wide.

In a large pan heat the duck fat over medium high heat.  When the fat is hot add the pork belly.

Cook on the first side for 2 to 3 minutes or golden brown.  Using tongue, turn and cook on the second side for about 2 minutes or until golden brown.  Turn meat around until all sides are golden brown.

Transfer the golden brown pork belly to a plate but don't throw away the fat in the pan.

Chop the carrots, celery, tomatoes, peel the garlic.

Add the vegetables into the pan that you used for browning the meat.

Add the black peppercorns. 

Stir occasionally for about 5 minutes or until the vegetables have just begun to color. 

Rinse your beans

Pour the vegetables inside a deep pot.

Add the beans inside the pot with the vegetables.

Add the chicken stock

Add the tomatoes paste

Add the pork belly and the bouquet garni. Bring the pot to a boil.

Lower the heat to a simmer for about 1 1/2 hour or until the beans are tender but not falling apart and the pork belly is tender when pierced with a fork.

Cut the bread into cubes.

Melt the butter into a pan and sautéed the bread.

Stir until the bread crumbs are golden brown and crispy.  Remove and set aside.

Remove all the pieces of pork belly from the pan.

Cut the meat into small pieces.

Put back the meat inside the cassoulet.

Reheat and it is ready to be served with the croutons.

Filed as: Meat

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