Like millions of Americans, we're traveling this year for Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, it's a business trip with Thanksgiving falling right into the middle of it. But that doesn't mean we're going to eat bad food. Nope. Not how we roll.
We rented a quaint Air B&B for our trip, which is something we now prefer on trips so we can cook. The grocery options in Newport are VERY limited - you can choose between Stop n Shop or Wal-Mart. Since Stop n Shop is next door to our favorite wine store, we chose to go there.
Trying our best to pick something that would warm us up, the original choice for a cold and rainy/windy night was between tortilla soup and white chicken chili. Thankfully, neither of those came to fruition because we ran across a section with several legs of D'Artagnan duck confit. Of course, we immediately thought - Cassoulet.
For those of you who don't know, Cassoulet is basically a French version of chilli--but much, much better. During the Hundred Years' War, the French people of Castelnaudary were under siege by the British. In efforts to feed the masses, the village combined their resources - gizzards, sausage, duck, beans, etc. - and cooked them together in a giant pot to be served over a long period. Thus, cassoulet was born.
While most recipes take a few hours to a few days to make, we generally use our version of a quick cassoulet, which produces the real deal in something around an hour. Our recipe is a variation on Jacques Pepin's recipe from Fast Food My Way, but it is a bit different. (As a side note, the only reason Cameron even let me experiment with a quicker cassoulet was because our initial effort came from Chef Pepin himself). We modified his recipe quite a bit, and our version is as follows. Trust me, you won't be disappointed.
1 diced onion
1 large package sliced Bella or button mushrooms
2 legs duck confit (Jacques doesn't include these, but we do)
1 lb sausage (Italian or breakfast)
1 lb bratwurst (we don't always include this)
1 28 oz. can petite diced tomatoes
4 14 oz. cans undrained beans (red kidney or fava)
1 bunch Thyme
2 tbsp minced garlic
Salt and pepper
*A porcelain coated pot works best, especially LeCreuset or Lodge*
Together, cook the duck confit, sausage, bratwurst (if used) and onion until browned. Add the beans, tomatoes, and mushrooms - bring to a boil. Add the thyme, garlic, salt and pepper. Simmer for an additional 20-30 minutes. Pull out thyme stems. Serve alone or with freshly baked bread. This was a great meal--on the road--on a cold and rainy day. It is one of our fall/winter go-to meals! Also great with a Rhone wine. Enjoy!
If you want to try the original recipe by Chef Pepin, you can find his "Fast Food My Way" cookbook here (it's a great resource):