Thursday, December 8, 2011

Dark Days Challenge, Week One

I'm helping the writers at Not Dabbling in Normal to manage Urban Hennery's Dark Days Challenge this year (use the link on the badge in the side bar to find out more).

I guess that means I should really play along and make at least one SOLE meal (Seasonal Organic Local Ethical) food meal a week. I think I hit it out of the park with this one, although I confess to pepper, salt, and yes, sherry. Everything else, except the bacon and the cheese (which are from farms in Wisconsin and Illinois, ordered through, was so local that it came out of my garden.

White bean cassoulet with rosemary and sage
based on this recipe from Edible Chicago Magazine

1 tablespoon kosher salt
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 sprigs fresh sage
2 sprigs of rosemary
2 whole peeled medium tomatoes (I pulled out a quart bag that I froze a couple of months ago)
splash of sherry
6 pieces of bacon, fried quite crisp and crumbled
olive oil
fresh ground pepper
any hard Italian cheese (asiago, parmesan, pecorino, romano), grated
Cook the beans; if they are commercial dried beans they usually recommend soaking overnight, but I've found it works better to boil them for 20 minutes, let them soak until the water is cool, then repeat.  With beans you've dried yourself, usually a single boiling will work.  Drain the water off. No need to conserve it.

In a large cast iron Dutch oven or heavy enamel pot, add garlic, tomato, sherry, sage and rosemary to the beans. Add the herbs on the stem so you can easily remove them before serving or you'll be picking them out a leaf at a time. Do not ask me how I know this. Add water to just cover the beans. You may need to add water as the beans cook. You want to keep them covered, but remember that it isn't soup. When you're done there should be minimal liquid.

Remember to use the good sherry. Although a lot of cooks apparently now dispute this, I like the saying that you shouldn't cook with a wine you wouldn't drink, if for no other reason than why buy a whole extra bottle just to cook with? I don't know about you, but I don't use liquor to cook with all that often. I don't even use liquor to drink with all that often.

Bring the pot to a boil then reduce heat to low and keep the beans at low simmer adding water as necessary. You may cook the beans on stovetop or place in a 350° oven and cook until tender. Add the bacon about 10 minutes before serving.

Garnish with grated hard cheese, olive oil, salt, and fresh ground pepper.

I honestly did not expect this to be all that good--cassoulets are easy to make, but hard to make tasty--but this was delicious.

1 comment:

  1. This looks fabulous. I agree - cassoulets ARE tricky and they can take a lot of time so it's nice you found a keeper. I'll keep this recipe in mind, thank you.