This French, succulent, stew made with white beans as a fundamental, is a one pot rustic dinner that will have you + one = swooning. The dish gets its name from the pot in which it is cooked, the cassole, a cone shaped earthenware dish. The shape of the dish helps to ensure a nice crunchy and luscious crust on the top. So, traditionalists…close your eyes and cover your ears…well maybe to be safe, just stop reading now. I did not make this dish in a cassole, nor did I use meat, not even a mirepoix involved in this recipe. However, I was still seduced by this dish and its deep flavor and we had a simmering romance over the stove. I made my own broth for this dish, it worked out perfect, wasting nothing. Just throw in the scraps from the peeled vegetables and onions that you will use for the cassoulet into a pot with water, some pepper corns, a bay leaf and herbs, olive oil, some kosher salt, and let simmer to your desired depth of flavor. The pretzel bread crust is just…well…just the unpredictable crispy balance to the earthy anchor of the stew. Thank you honey, for being my anchor.
Cassoulet for two…with a pretzel bread crust…
1 ½ cup dried great northern white beans
***In preparation you will need to soak your beans overnight.
water for the soak, just enough to cover the top of the beans.
1 large leek, rinsed and sliced
3 carrots, peeled and cubed
2 small Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cubed.
¼ yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bouquet garni (again, no need to be super traditional use what herbs you have, but I would encourage the rosemary)
4-8 cups broth
salt and pepper
pretzel bread baguette
canned whole tomatoes (I was fortunate to have a small jar of tomatoes that were canned this summer from my mother in law’s garden)…skip the tomatoes if you do not have a good version. You can add a touch of good quality tomato paste for flavor, and you may require more broth.
*** This dish was made in a 2qt round dutch oven.
In olive oil, sauté leeks, onion and garlic over low heat until translucent. Then add carrots, potatoes, and tomatoes. Let simmer for a couple minutes, stirring regularly.
Add beans and 3-4 cups of broth (enough to cover beans and vegetables), salt, pepper, and the bouquet garni. Let simmer on low heat mixing regularly until beans and vegetables are tender. You may need to add broth throughout this process little by little. Just ladle it in as necessary. You will have a thick stew in the end.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice pretzel bread baguette into thin coins. Toast lightly. Once the beans and vegetables are tender, form pretzel bread into concentric circles over the top of the dish and place in oven until set, crunchy, and lightly browned. Garnish with a little fresh herbs. Serve right in the pot with two spoons.
Eat together, toast to each other, and share!