While I love this video—and, yes, Le Creuset is giving away ten of these awesome oval pots (yes, giving them away)—the video doesn’t show how succulent and delicious and simple these bean dishes are. Kate will be pissed that I’m desecrating her beloved cassoulet with American middle-of-the-week ease. Sorry, Kate (but not really). I got great Tarbais-style beans from Steve Sando of Ranch Gordo; these and a great pot are all you need. Sure, I’d love some moulard duck leg confit, but I don’t have it here! What I have is pork! And I love pork, and it’s delicious, and this dish adds up to just a few dollars a portion (even with Whole Foods meat!).

Easy cassoulet, American style: thick chunks of bacon started in water (to speed the fat-rendering), browned, then pork shoulder chunks seared in the bacon fat, the sausage likewise: put it all in the pot, cover with pre-soaked beans (plan ahead!), fill with water, add aromats, bring to a simmer on the stovetop and pop in the oven, season with salt and pepper at the end. If you do this a day or three ahead of time and just reheat for a dinner party, it will taste even better! Or make a big batch on Sunday while the Browns are losing, have half for dinner that night, and enjoy it again as a last-minute dinner on a busy Thursday night, or freeze it for up to a month.

Go to the Le Creuset site to win one of these pots, which are $$$! But worth every cent (especially if you win!), because they will outlive your kids’ kids.

By the way, braised lamb shanks is another great slow-cooking recipe and technique from Ruhlman’s Twenty. Having the right tools in the kitchen really does matter. I have a shitty aluminum pot and I’d have to be really good and careful to make good food in it. Now is the season of slow cooking that fills the home with beautiful aromas; now is the season of heavy pots and fatty meats and succulent beans!

Easy Cassoulet

  • 1 pound slab bacon, cut in 1/2” x 1/2″ x 2” lardons
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut in large 4-ounce chunks
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 garlic sausages (or bratwurst or sausage of your choice), halved
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 pound white or Tarbais beans, soaked in water overnight
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup minced parsley
  1. Put the bacon in a French oven or cassoulet dish and add just enough water to cover. Place the pot over high heat. When the fat begins to crackle, lower the heat to medium and stir, turning the bacon to brown it on all sides. Remove the bacon to a bowl or plate.
  2. Turn the heat to medium-high. Season the pork liberally with salt and pepper. Sear the pork in the bacon fat until browned. Remove the pork to the bowl or plate with the bacon.
  3. Next, brown the sausage in the bacon fat just enough to color the casing. Reserve it along with the bacon and pork.
  4. Preheat the oven to 300°F/149°C.
  5. Add the onion and carrots to the pot and cook until they’re tender and evenly browned. Return all the meat to the pot. Add the beans. Cover all with water by about half an inch (or you can use red or white wine if you like). Push the bay leaves below the surface. Bring to a simmer and cook over medium-low heat for about 30 minutes. Add a teaspoon of salt.
  6. Place the uncovered pot in the oven and cook 1 to 2 hours, until the pork is tender and the beans are cooked through. Check occasionally and add more water and/or wine if it’s too dry—you never know how much the beans will soak up.
  7. Serve each bowl with bacon, pork, sausage, beans, and cooking liquid. Garnish with parsley.

Serves 6

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© 2012 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2012 Donna Turner Ruhlman. All rights reserved.