Cassoulet!  The ultimate winter comfort dish…and last night I received the ultimate compliment: “This is the best Cassoulet I have ever had- including what I had in Carcasonne”.  And this was from a Frenchman.  I have to admit it was indeed delicious, but that was less to do with my cooking skills and more to do with the face that I had a pile of delicious sausage/porkbelly/duck legs and bacon.  I mean- how could it go wrong.

So what is the fascination with Cassoulet…it isn’t exactly ‘pretty’ food.  You wouldn’t necessarily serve it up at a party where you were trying to show off or impress anyone with your amazing cooking skills.  You would serve it up if you wanted a nice long evening with friends, lingering over one big pot of food at the centre of the table.  The funny thing is for years I had this impression of Cassoulet being a terribly fussy, difficult dish.  I guess there are some pretty heated discussions about what should be included in a Cassoulet (duck- yes/no, lamb yes/no, tomatoes yes/no, bread crumbs yes/no).  I think it is something that you just make your own, but at the core it is simply a long cooked pot of white beans with pork…and anything else you think might work.  It is also something that requires some pretty serious patience.  My version cooked for about 6 hours at 12oC….then sat for about 30 minutes before we cracked the crust and dug in.  Worth. Every. Bite.