Authentic French Cassoulet: A Hearty Bean and Meat Stew

Authentic French Cassoulet Recipe: A Classic Comfort Food

Transport yourself to the rustic countryside of Languedoc with this rich, comforting cassoulet. French Cassoulet dish combines creamy white beans with succulent meats for a truly satisfying meal.

Cassoulet may have humble origins as a peasant dish, but it has evolved into a beloved classic that sparks passionate debates among chefs and food lovers. While purists argue over the “correct” meats and methods, our version stays true to the dish’s spirit while adapting it for the home cook.

Don’t be intimidated by the long cooking time – most of it is hands-off as the flavors meld in the oven. Your patience will be rewarded with fork-tender meat, creamy beans, and an irresistible golden crust.

The Secret to Amazing Cassoulet

The key to an exceptional cassoulet lies in building layers of flavor. We start by rendering fat from salt pork, then use it to brown chicken (or duck), sausage, and pork shoulder. Aromatics like onion, garlic, and herbs infuse the beans as they slowly simmer.

While traditional recipes often call for duck confit, we’ve found that fresh chicken or duck legs work beautifully. The long, slow cooking transforms them into melt-in-your-mouth morsels.

To achieve that coveted golden crust without fancy cassole pots, we employ a clever trick: adding gelatin to store-bought stock. This mimics the body of homemade stock and helps form the signature crust as the cassoulet cooks.

Ingredients for Ultimate Cassoulet

  • 1 pound (454g) dried cannellini beans
  • 3 tablespoons (27g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use half as much by volume or the same weight
  • 5 cups (1.2L) homemade or store-bought unsalted chicken stock, divided (see notes)
  • 3 packets unflavored gelatin (3/4 ounce; 21g), such as Knox (optional, see notes)
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) duck fat (optional)
  • 8 ounces (227g) salt pork, cut into 3/4-inch cubes (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 8 ounces (227g) boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 4 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs, 4 fresh duck legs, or 4 prepared duck confit legs
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound (454g) garlic sausage (divided into 2-4 segments, if sausage is large)
  • 1 large onion (12 ounces; 340g), finely diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 carrot (4 ounces;113g), unpeeled and cut into 3-inch sections
  • 2 ribs celery (6 1/2 ounces; 188g), cut into 3-inch sections
  • 1 whole head garlic (2 3/4 ounces; 80g)
  • 4 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 cloves

How to Make Authentic Cassoulet

  1. Soak the beans: In a large bowl, cover beans with 3 quarts (2.8L) water and add salt. Stir to combine, then let stand at room temperature overnight. Drain and rinse beans; set aside.
  2. Prepare the oven and stock: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat to 325°F (160°C). Place 4 cups (946ml) stock in a large liquid measuring cup and sprinkle gelatin over top. Set aside. In a large Dutch oven, heat duck fat (if using), salt pork, and pork shoulder over high heat, stirring occasionally, until browned all over, about 9 minutes. If not using duck fat, cook pork with no additional fat. Transfer to a large bowl with a slotted spoon, leaving rendered fat in the Dutch oven.
  3. Brown the poultry: Season chicken thighs or duck confit with pepper (no salt needed) and place skin side down in Dutch oven. Cook without moving until well-browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let cool to room temperature.
  4. Brown the sausages: Add sausages to Dutch oven and cook, turning occasionally, until well-browned, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to bowl with salt pork. Drain all but 2 tablespoons fat from pot.
  5. Cook the beans: Add onions to Dutch oven and cook, stirring and scraping up browned bits from bottom of pot, until onions are translucent but not browned, about 4 minutes. Add drained beans, carrot, celery, garlic, parsley, bay leaves, cloves, and stock/gelatin mixture. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce to low, cover Dutch oven, and cook until beans are slightly softened but retain a bite, about 20 minutes.
  6. Assemble and bake: Cover cooled chicken or duck and refrigerate. Remove and discard carrots, celery, parsley, bay leaves, and cloves from pot. Add pork and sausages to pot and stir to incorporate. Beans should be almost completely submerged. Transfer to oven and cook, uncovered, adding remaining 1 cup (237ml) stock halfway through by pouring it carefully down side of pot as necessary to keep beans mostly covered, until a thin crust forms on top, about 1 hour 30 minutes.
  7. Finish the cassoulet: Break crust with a spoon and shake pot gently to redistribute. Nestle chicken or duck into the Dutch oven, skin side up. Return to oven and continue cooking, stopping to break and shake crust every 30 minutes, until crust is deep brown and thick, an additional 1 hour 30 minutes. Serve immediately and enjoy your labor of love!

Recipe Notes

If using homemade chicken stock that already has lots of gelatin (i.e., it should thicken and gel when chilled), you can omit the unflavored gelatin. For store-bought stock, or homemade stock that’s watery when chilled, the unflavored gelatin is essential.

Use unsalted chicken broth, especially if opting for duck confit, to avoid an overly salty dish.

Nutritional Information

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
641 Calories
37g Fat
41g Carbs
36g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 641
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 37g 48%
Saturated Fat 13g 67%
Cholesterol 101mg 34%
Sodium 1379mg 60%
Total Carbohydrate 41g 15%
Dietary Fiber 9g 34%
Total Sugars 4g
Protein 36g
Vitamin C 4mg 19%
Calcium 179mg 14%
Iron 7mg 41%
Potassium 1410mg 30%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

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