And… a culinary treat from the South of France

Rustic nature of the peasant dish enhanced by Instagram

Greetings, friends, and welcome to my next recipe! On Tuesday I cooked a Cassoulet for my family. Cassoulet comes from the Languedoc-Roussilon region of France, centred on the town of Castelnaudry, and is an old peasant one-pot dish. In years gone by the locals would use whatever they had going as the main meat; chicken, beef, offal… For my family I used Toulouse sausages from Sainsbury’s. Toulouse is really rather close to Castelnaudry and the great medieval city of Carcassonne (well, by French standards anyway. Close is  relative term), and I adapted this from a recipe in Good Food magazine that used the Toulousian style of meaty goodness. I say adapted because the original recipe calls for fennel, which we rather detest as a group, so I included button mushrooms instead and doubled the amount of sausages. Beneath are the ingredients and instructions, and then a photo blog, or phlog, of the creation of the dish. This was the first time I had ever made cassoulet, though I have eaten it many times before on holiday in Carcassonne, and it really turned out rather fine. I didn’t think there would be enough to go round, so I cooked up some couscous to go with it. As it turned out there was more than enough, so please forgive the bowls piled high with added couscous at the end! Enough of my waffle, then, and on with the food!

Toulouse sausage cassoulet

Serves 4. Prep: 15 mins. Cook: 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 12 Toulouse sausages
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 4 sticks celery, chopped
  • 1 pack small button mushrooms, whole
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 200ml red wine
  • 400g tin haricot beans, drained and rinsed
  • 100g fresh bread crumbs
  • 25g pack flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Instructions

  1. Heat 1/2 tbsp of oil in a large casserole dish/Le Creuset and cook the sausages for 5-6 minutes to brown. Transfer to a plate and set aside. Preheat the oven to 200C/180 Fan/gas 6.
  2. Add another 1/2 tbsp oil to the casserole dish along with the onion and cook for 3-4 minutes until soft. Addthe garlic and celery and cook for a further 5 minutes until golden.
  3. Stir in the tomatoes and wine, then return the sausages to the pan. Cover and cook for 20-25 minutes in oven, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add the beans and cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Mix the breadcrumbs with the parsley and sprinkle over the sausage mixture, like a crumble. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and bake for 15 minutes until golden.

This is best served with a large glass of red wine from the same bottle you cooked with! To add to the Languedoc flavour and to transport yourself to the region, pair the dish with a local wine like a Minervois, Corbieres, Fitoux or Cotes de Rousillon.

These sausages made the perfect cassoulet:

I lightly browned them. No need to cook them fully at this stage as they will poach in the oven:

I had never cooked with celery before, and now I know why it used in these kinds of dishes – it keeps it’s crunch, which makes for a more interesting texture!

Before it all went into the oven for the first time:

After the addition of the haricot beans. Don’t worry if there’s still plenty of liquid at this stage – the beans will soak it up.

Parsley and breadcrumbs make for the perfect crust – it’s like a sausage crumble!

Before:

After

Probably best served with a hunk-a-hunk of fresh-baked bread. Here: couscous.

As you can see, there is still plenty of moisture left – as it should be. The couscous soaked up quite a bit, but I’d love to try this with some proper artisan bread.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this little journey to my favourite part of France!

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7 thoughts on “And… a culinary treat from the South of France

    • Thanks Conor. It really is my favourite region – we go back year after year as the food is so great, and the wine selection is enormous. We should be heading down July/August too, maybe bump into you!

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