Mary Anne here. Preparing a traditional French Cassoulet (a la Julia Child) is incredibly time-consuming and can be fairly pricey since it requires hard-to-find ingredients like goose and mutton. There are several recipes out there that “cheap it down,” but they also include the use of duck, which can be expensive and labor-intensive prep-wise.
My “husband” Michael combined several recipes and wound up with something that satisfied his winter craving for this savory stew…without blowing the holiday budget. Plan for about an hour of hands-on-time and then it’s “set it and forget it” as it roasts for 3 to 4 hours in the oven. This hearty dish is perfect for “Super Sundays” and a terrific alternative to the usual diet of chili and nachos during football season.
Feel free to experiment with other meat choices such as garlic sausages, pork or lamb. Store this in a sealed container in the fridge for 4 days or you can freeze portions for another week. Additionally, I chose to prepare this with pork sausage and real bacon, but it’s delicious with healthier options like lower-fat chicken sausage and turkey bacon. I suggest serving this alongside a Caesar Salad, a slice of crusty French bread and a glass brimming with Burgundy. Bon appetite!
Looking for an even quicker fix? Check out Mariel’s Sausage & White Beans with Roasted Tomatoes.
Note: You will need a large skillet and a 6-quart ovenproof stockpot or a deep 6-quart covered casserole. I spray the inside of the stockpot or casserole as well as the inside of the lid with Pam. This makes cleanup so much easier.
1 lb. Italian sausages (hot or sweet or a combo), cut into 1/3-inch round slices – $2.50
5 Lbs. of Chicken thighs, breasts and drumsticks (bone in) – $7.27
¼ lb. thick cut bacon – $0.99
1 large Vidalia onion, chopped (4 cups) — $1.30
3/4 cup celery (about three stalks), chopped – $0.49
4 carrots, peeled and chopped – $0.35
4 cups canned cannellini beans, drained and rinsed – $2.00
4 cloves chopped garlic — stock
1 (28 oz.) can chopped/diced tomatoes with juice – $2.19
2 Bay leaves – stock
1 teaspoon dried thyme (or about four sprigs of fresh thyme) – stock
1 cup red wine (cooking wine or a dry red table wine like cabernet or merlot) – stock
1 cup low-sodium chicken stock – stock
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce – stock
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided – stock
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
6 Tablespoons fresh bread crumbs — stock
4 Tablespoons butter, melted — stock
1/2 cup chopped parsley — $0.29
Grand Total Assuming Well-Stocked Pantry: $17.38
Total Per Serving: $2.17
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Sauté the bacon until crispy. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Crumble the cooked bacon and set aside.
3. Drain the fat from the pan. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the same skillet and over medium flame brown the sausages on all sides. Transfer to a platter. Brown the chicken in the same pan. You will have to do this in batches. (About 10 minutes per batch.) Transfer to the platter.
4. If necessary, add another tablespoon or so of olive oil to the same skillet. Sauté the onion, carrots, and celery over medium heat for about 10 minutes until the onion is translucent.
5. Add the garlic and sauté an additional 5 minutes.
6. To the prepared stockpot or casserole dish add the beans, onion, celery, carrots, garlic, tomatoes, thyme, bay leaves, red wine, chicken stock, Worcestershire, crumbled bacon, salt and pepper, combining well.
7. Add the chicken and sliced sausages. Cover and bake at 375 degrees for 3 to 3½ hours until bubbling and thickened. Note that baking times may vary – I’ve cooked this as long as 4½ hours when using a friend’s (inconsistent) electric oven. While the Cassoulet is roasting, combine the fresh breadcrumbs and melted butter. Set aside.
8. During the last ½ hour of roasting, remove the lid and sprinkle the top of the Cassoulet with the breadcrumb mixture. Bake 20 to 30 minutes, uncovered until crumbs are golden. The liquids will have largely evaporated, creating a thick sauce. The chicken will be crisp and deep brown on the outside — the inside moist and practically falling off the bone.
9. Garnish with parsley before serving.