Peasant Stew (a simple cassoulet)

by Giff on September 29, 2014

simple-cassoulet

Fall brings braising back into my kitchen, and my favorite thing to braise is pork shoulder. Not only does it make a spectacular meal in it’s own right, but it gives you the perfect material for follow-on dishes, whether chili or tacos or in last week’s case, a cassoulet-inspired peasant stew.

There are a myriad of ways to braise pork. Two weeks ago, I did a dry rub of fennel seed, mustard seed, salt and black pepper, and braised the meat in white wine and onions for about 6 hours at 300F. This time around I did a simpler version of this chipotle port braise. For this recipe, I’m going to skip past the braising part and assume you have some delicious leftover pork shoulder to use.

1 lb braised pork shoulder meat
1 turkey thigh
1 kielbasa sausage
1 lb good white beans
1 large onion, diced
3 or 4 cloves of garlic, minced
Salt and pepper
Bouquet garnis of parsley, oregano, bay leaf and rosemary

You’ll want a large dutch oven to make this dish.

For the cassoulet, soak and then cook a pound of white beans — in my case, I used Rancho Gordo cassoulet beans which had a lovely size and texture. To cook, put the beans in a large pot, cover with about an inch of water, bring to a boil and then simmer uncovered until the beans are tender. Reserve a couple cups of the cooking liquid.

Pre-heat your oven to 350F.

Sear but do not fully cook a turkey thigh. Remove the skin and cut the turkey meat into bite-size chunks.

If the kielbasa is pre-cooked, slice it into 3mm pieces. If it is not, brown the sausage in the dutch oven and then set to the side.

Chop the pork into bite-size chunks.

In the dutch oven, warm up some olive oil and saute the onions on medium-low heat until they start to turn translucent, and add in the garlic. Stir and do not let the garlic brown or burn. Gently stir in the beans, the meat (no need to do fancy layering), and the reserved cooking liquid from the beans. Stir in a half teaspoon of table salt or almost a full teaspoon if kosher salt. You will likely add more salt, but start here and add to taste.

Tie up your bouquet garnis with kitchen string (or wrap in cheesecloth) and push into the middle. Add water — enough that it comes almost to the top level of the beans (some white wine would be nice too).

Shift the pot, covered, to the oven. Cook for 20-30 minutes and lower heat to 325F. Cook for a couple of hours, tasting for salt level (just be careful that as the water level decreases, the salt intensity will increase). Sometimes with a dish like this, I will cook it uncovered to form more of a crust (with this approach, you will likely need to add more water), or I will add a layer of browned breadcrumbs, but I didn’t do either here and the dish still came out beautifully.

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Mussels in Ginger Coconut Milk Broth

by Giff on January 20, 2014

mussels-coconutmilk

(serves 2 people)

1 lb mussels
1 small onion, thinly sliced then roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 thumb-sized knob of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
1 TSP tomato paste
1 can of coconut milk
1 fresh hot pepper (or dried hot chili pepper flakes)
1/2 cup of dry vermouth or white wine
1/2 cup water
large bunch of cilantro, loosely chopped
olive oil
salt and pepper

Clean and de-beard your mussels under cold water. Discard any that are open or have broken shells. If you bought wild mussels, soak them in cold fresh water for 20 minutes before cooking.

In a large soup pot, heat up the olive oil on medium-low heat. Saute the onions, garlic, ginger and tomato paste, stirring regularly so that the garlic does not burn. Add the coconut milk, vermouth, and water. Add in a few slices of your hot pepper (I used 4 thin slices of a jalapeno, but if you want it really hot, add more. If you use dried pepper flakes, start with just a pinch). Add a pinch of salt and the same of freshly ground pepper.

Simmer for 15 minutes so that the flavors blend. Add a bit more water if it starts to thicken too much.

Taste for salt and pepper, but leave it just slightly under-salted.

Stir in the mussels and cilantro, cover and simmer until all the mussels are open.

Serve in a bowl with lots of the broth and good bread on the side.

p.s. fun tip for eating mussels: use an empty shell as your utensil to pinch the meat out of the other shells.

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Thumbnail image for Chipotle Pork Shoulder Braise

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Chickpea and parsley salad with lemon-shallot dressing

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Ah to be on vacation and have time to food blog again!  I tend to eat a lot of salad for lunch in the summer time.  I love tabouli but on its own, tabouli would leave me hungry.  So I created this salad in the same vein (tons of parsley!) but going for a heartier [...]

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In summertime, there are few things I like more than fresh salsa and a good beer. I make variations of this recipe, as evidenced in this blog’s history, and can never get enough of it. It goes great with chips, on toasted bread, on fish or hamburgers… or just straight up ! 1 red pepper, [...]

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