This last Saturday we got a rare treat of having absolutely nothing to do. No school for Elliott, no craft fairs for Carinn, and no errands to run for the holidays. We started with a run with Charlotte and then settled into a long day of cooking, wrapping, and general lazing about. Lucky for us our mission to cook a 3 hour cassoulet coincided with an all day marathon of Indiana Jones movies. We didn’t get the chance to save the world or discover some new artifact but we were warm, content, and satisfied. To give credit where it’s due, this recipe is an adaptation of the Saveur Cassoulet recipe found here (we essentially made it cheaper and easier): http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Cassoulet-1000068227.
1 lb. pork shoulder, trimmed of some fat and cut into 1″ cubes
1 lb. hot Italian sausage
4 oz. pancetta
3 14 oz. cans of great northern beans
1 14 oz. can of peeled whole tomatoes
1 medium carrot, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
1 medium head (18 cloves) garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups white wine
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh oregano
2 bay leaves
3 1/2 cups Chicken Stock
Salt & Pepper
Begin by cutting several pieces of pancetta into smaller strips or pieces with kitchen shears. Toss these pieces into a large pot with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat, followed by half of the carrots and onions a minute or two later. Sauté for several minutes until the onions are totally translucent and beginning to brown. Add half the garlic and stir regularly until the garlic has browned a bit. Add a 1/2 cup of wine, let it reduce by 3/4, then add the three cans of (rinsed) beans and 1 1/2 cups chicken stock. Bring these ingredients to a low simmer and let them be for now.
Heat up a separate, large, oven-safe pot over medium-high heat for several minutes. In the meantime, toss your pork shoulder pieces with salt and pepper. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil (it’s okay if smokes) to your heated pot, followed by the pork shoulder. Spread the pieces as evenly as possible and turn every couple of minutes – The goal is to let them brown on all sides. After the first couple of rounds of turning, add several ounces of pancetta to the pan in small strips or pieces. After 8 minutes or so, add the rest of the carrots and onions and sauté until the onions begin to get translucent. Add the rest of the garlic and stir regularly.
Once the garlic is lightly browned, add the whole can of tomatoes, including their juice. Use your spatula or wooden spoon to break apart the tomatoes into smaller pieces. Once the tomato juice has thickened a bit, add the remaining cup of white wine and reduce by half. While the wine is reducing, grab a short piece of butcher’s string and tie your herbs together into a bouquet garni. Next, add the remaining 2 cups of chicken stock and allow the pot to simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the ingredients begin to thicken.
While your two pots are simmering, brown your sausage in a separate sauté pan and set aside. This is also a good time to preheat the oven to 300˚. Once your stew pot has thickened, combine all ingredients in the oven-safe pot and put in the oven, uncovered. Now comes the hardest part of all – let it cook for 2 1/2 hours, or until the pork shoulder becomes super tender and the sauce has thickened significantly. The smells will be torture but well worth the wait.