Several years ago I was gifted a copy of Julia Child Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I was excited about this as I had wanted to learn to cook French cuisine, and Julia Child created her book with North American kitchens in mind. I have maybe looked through the book a few times over the years, mainly just perusing the recipe and really have only made beef bourguignon according to Julia Child.
I think one of the reasons I have not used the book as much as I though I would is the fact that all the recipes seem daunting and time consuming. Each recipe is written out in specific steps, with the ingredients needed corresponding with that step unlike most recipes that have a standard list of ingredients and then the instructions. Some of these recipes can take days to make, and even go into what type of pots and pans should be used.
As many may remember a movie about Julia Child’s and her time spent in Paris creating this book and a modern day women attempts to try making these recipes was made a few years ago. The premises of a young blogger trying to replicate each recipe to a tee is rather amusing but seriously reminds me that this cook book is not for the armchair chef but meant for those who have the necessary tools, ingredients, time and skill.
For any of those who ran out and bought the book after seeing the movie you will surely agree that on closer inspection it was neatly and deliberately tucked away in a drawer or bookcase to perhaps come back to another day in another time.
I am not saying you should be dissuaded from entertaining the idea that you could pull off some of the lovely and elaborate recipes, anyone can- but the problem is we often have no time to see each step perfectly timed and executed.
Which is why I will never give up my book but will look at it from time to time, make notes, look up similar recipes and all in all play around with a way to simplify the recipe without simplifying the dish. With that in mind, and my craving for something I had (roughly) a year ago at a small bistro in Vancouver (can’t remember the name but they had the most divine lavender lattes!) I decided to crack open the book and attempt to recreate Julia Child’s Cassoulet.
A cassoulet simply translated means stew usually consisting of meats and beans, or one pot dish. Julia Child has been very thorough in her recipe, but that also means it is a tedious recipe to replicate. She recommends that the cassoulet be made over several days otherwise there would not be enough time for all the ingredients to cook correctly.
Although I highly agree with this method and suggest you complete the recipe exactly as Julia Child has written out, it is not something one wants to do all the time so with a bit of thinking I was able to cut down this recipe to a respectable timeframe and lessen the work for everyone, it still takes some time but not nearly as much as the original recipe.
To cut down on time and preparation I cut out a few of the ingredients, such as the pork rind and used chicken instead of lamb/mutton and swapped the dry beans for canned ones. I also used store bough fennel and nettle pork sausages, but you can use any mild tasting sausage or go ahead and make your own as Julia Child recommends.
My version may not be authentic, but I strongly believe it was just as delicious had I followed Julia Child’s recipe perfectly. Not much else is needed to serve with this dish as it is rather heavy, maybe a small salad and some crusty French bread but certainly nothing else is needed.
Another thing to note is this recipe could be adapted for the crockpot, if you prefer to simmer it all day to be ready for dinner.
- 2 Cans cannellini beans, drained
- 1- 2 Pound pork loin, cubed
- 2 Pounds chicken breast or lamb/mutton, cubed
- 1 Pound thick bacon, cut into cubes
- 1 Large onion, sliced
- 4 Medium carrots, sliced
- 1 Can tomato paste
- 1 Cup white wine
- 1 Cup vegetable stock
- Sprig of thyme or 1 Tbsp thyme
- 5 cloves garlic
- Salt and Pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Prick sausages lay on baking tray and cook for 10 minutes. They won't be completely done; some pink is fine, as you will be cooking them more. Slice them up and set to side.
- Add beans, and vegetable stock to a pot. Lay bacon bits and carrots over the beans along with the whole cloves of garlic and thyme, season with salt and pepper. Cover and let simmer.
- Brown pork and chicken, set to side.
- Saute onions until translucent then add in the chicken and pork. Add in tomato paste and white wine, stirring to loosen the tomato paste. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, or until all liquid has evaporated.
- Remove garlic from beans and mash up. Add to chicken and pork.
- Once bacon looks ready to eat, but still soft, combine the beans and bacon with the chicken and pork in a large oven
- proof baking dish. Cook in oven for 1 hour.
- Add in sausages and cook for a further half an hour.
- Once done serve immediately, or let cool before storing in refrigerator. Will keep for 3 days.