Monday, January 10, 2011

Summer Cassoulet - Daring Cook Challenge January 2011

If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. Or turn down the heat.

Our January 2011 Challenge comes from Jenni of The Gingered Whisk and Lisa from Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. They challenged the Daring Cooks to learn how to make a confit and use it within the Traditional French dish of Cassoulet. They chose a traditional recipe from Anthony Bourdain and Michael Ruhlman.

I so wanted to be a good little Daring Cook and rise to this challenge. I love the idea of cassoulet, with its intricate parts and interesting history. But I have to be honest and say that in the midst of a steamy Sydney summer, I couldn't think of anything I wanted to cook less than a cassoulet.
I toyed with the idea of a vegetarian version and got started by making the garlic confit. This was easy and smelled divine.

But I couldn't find gluten flour for the veggie sausages and somehow a vegetarian cassoulet didn't feel right.

Then, just when I was thinking I would sit this month out, inspiration struck.

BBQ season is in full swing right now in Australia which always means lots of left over sausages. So I decided to make a summer cassoulet incorporating the garlic confit and some really good quality left-over pork snags, plus some bacon to up the pork factor. I used tinned beans to save cooking time and replaced the breadcrumb topping with thin slices of toast, so it didn't have to be baked.
And? It was DELICIOUS. Way better than I expected and definitely the best thing I have ever made without following a recipe.

Thank you to hosts Jenni and Lisa for such an amazing challenge. I am sorry that I wimped out on the full monty and promise to make it up to you when winter rolls around down here. But I am also glad that I wimped out, because I really loved my summer cassoulet.

Summer Cassoulet
1 tbs olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 celery sticks, diced
2 rashers of bacon, diced
1 fresh bay leaf
2 fresh tomatos, chopped
2 cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
15 cloves of garlic confit (see below)
2 cooked left-over BBQ sausages, preferably high quality pork, chopped into small pieces

1. Place oil, onion, carrot, celery and bay leaf in a large pan over medium heat, and cook, covered, for around 10 minutes, stirring sometimes, until the veggies are softening.
2. Add bacon, stir and cook uncovered for a further 5 minutes.
3. Add tomato, stir and cook uncovered for another 5 minutes.
4. Add the beans, garlic confit and sausage pieces. Stir gently, trying not to break up the garlic and beans too much.
5. Turn the heat to low, replace the lid and leave to cook for a further 20 minutes, checking sometimes and giving a gentle stir.

Serve with salad, a thin and crispy piece of toast and, if you choose, a refreshing ale.

Garlic Confit
(adapted from here Saveur magazine)

Olive oil
1½ tsp sea salt (if using table salt, use ½ the amount)
10 whole black peppercorns
5 sprigs fresh thyme
60 garlic cloves, peeled and 1 bay leaf

1. Preheat oven to 150°C. Put ingredients in a pot adding enough oil so the garlic is submerged. Cover pot. Bake until garlic is golden brown and tender, about 1 hour. Let cool.
2. Transfer mixture to a glass jar; cover surface of oil with plastic wrap. Cover jar and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.


  1. I love it! What a perfect solution to beat the heat and still have hearty, delicious food. Excellent idea!

  2. Your summer cassoulet sounds and looks delicious! Love the salad on the side too :)

  3. I wish I have thought of a summer cassoulet it is so hot here in Sydney now your dish sounds perfect for a BBQ lunch and that first photo says it all so delicious and tasty well done on this challenge. Great work.

    Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  4. I can imagine the smell you were getting as you made that garlic confit, mmm! This looks like a great lighter version of such a heavy dish :)

  5. I love the idea of a summer cassoulet... any excuse to use BBQ and not turn on the oven on a hot day!

  6. What a great idea to morph the cassoulet into summer fare and serve it along with a cool salad. Your garlic confit and the cassoulet look absolutely luscious! Thanks for taking part in our challenge!

  7. What a great way to make this challenge work for you! Thank you for sharing this creativity with us, and helping remind all of us that thinking outside of the box can help you come up with some fabulous food!!

  8. What a great idea! Could not even imagine making cassoulet in the middle of the summer. The end result looks fantastic!