Friday, November 8, 2013


This fall, I seem to be all about the bean. And I'm reading about beans everywhere. The book I just finished, "Mastering the Art of French Eating," has a cassoulet recipe that takes days to make. All my magazines have bean recipes and this week's Sunday Chronicle served up a story about turkey cassoulet, as well. 

When on a recent outing I found a package of Rancho Gordo Tarbais beans, grown locally from seeds imported from France, I decided to give in to my cravings and try making cassoulet. I followed a general outline but substituted some important ingredients, as well. I'm not a huge fan of duck, and especially not confit, so I used chicken thighs instead. We had some garlic sausages so those went in, too. The beans were rinsed and soaked briefly since they were pretty fresh, then cooked in chicken stock. The meats were well browned separately in my enameled cast iron pot, then set aside until I combined them with the beans. Over three days, I reheated the casserole to make the much-desired crust on top, finally serving the dish on the third evening.

It seems like a lot of rigamarole for a single meal (actually, it made several meals for us - perhaps a few too many for My variety-loving Beloved) but the idea is to blend the flavors and to cook the beans to velvet without turning them to mush. 

When you serve it, each spoonful rolls off the spoon glistening with its own gravy, each bean separate but velvety and each of the meats cooked to moist softness. This is hearty fare and a small serving is plenty, but be sure to give everyone a little chunk of sausage and a piece of the chicken along with the beans. 

Another time, I might break even more with tradition and add zucchini to the final cooking, just to lighten the dish and add a tiny bit of bitterness, but even this way it was warming and filling and perfect for a crisp fall evening.

I saved a few of the Tarbais beans and I'm going to plant them in the garden next spring to try to grow my own. I have no idea if this will work but I couldn't resist trying.  Now off to the Interwebs to see if I can find out the best way to store my beans until I'm ready to plant. Hoping to be beaned again next year.


Blogger Greg said...

Fancy beanie weenie!

Friday, November 08, 2013  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Greg, well, really, not fancy at all. Country food at its best.

Friday, November 08, 2013  
Blogger Namastenancy said...

Sounds like you are ready to tackle Hoppin' John and Black eyed peas. Southerners are very picky about those dishes.

Friday, November 08, 2013  
Blogger cookiecrumb said...

I've only made cassoulet with flageolet beans... Thanks for the education on Tarbais. I think we make cassoulet once every year. :D

Friday, November 08, 2013  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Nancy, I've been tempted many New Years past to make Hoppin' John, but haven't yet worked up the courage. My guess is there are as many recipes as their are Southern families.

Cookiecrumb, these Tarbais beans were really big - as big as mature lima beans - and they cooked to an amazing texture. I usually like Navy beans (ha!) but these were lovely, too.

Saturday, November 09, 2013  
Blogger Diane said...

This sounds amazing. I have never attempted cassoulet, but I have loved it on the two occasions that I was treated to it. I have funny story about Navy beans, which are a major crop where I grew up. My dad lived there most of his life, was a Navy man in WWII, but never ever liked them!

Saturday, November 09, 2013  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Diane, cassoulet isn't hard, it's just long and it makes a lot so you have tons left over unless you serve it to a crowd. Maybe you will find some in Paris! Oh, there I go envying you again! :-)

Saturday, November 09, 2013  

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