Whimps Cassoulet


Hello again. Another major reason for having to adapt my way of cooking is also that the French have very different tastes when it come to food. Simplicity is the word, they do not like to be faced with too many flavours at once, and like to see what they are eating, so meals such as cottage pie, chilli con carne and curries where the individual ingredients are unidentifiable are not greatly appreciated (all my favourites!)
They often have only one vegetable (please note, they consider potatoes a vegetable and I was once in a very expensive, high class restaurant with my partner, Marc, and was served a steak with ‘puree’ – mashed potato to us!) He asked my why I did not to begin to eat, and I replied that I was waiting for my vegetables (expecting a side dish of carrots, cabbage, caulieflour cheese, broccoli and such like) only to be told that I had my vegetables!!!!!

I do not go as far as to serve only ‘Smash’ with steak, but quite often serve meat or fish with only one veg………..after saying this, Marc is now quite partial to a curry providing it is not too hot! (the French and spices coming up later!)

One traditional French dish that does involve ‘one pot cooking’, is ‘Cassoulet’ a rich stew of meat  (traditionally Toulouse sausage, belly porc, and occasionally chicken or duck, depending upon the recipe) and white beans in a rich tomato sauce.
Originating from the south western region of France (more on ‘regional cooking’ later) and almost every village within a 30 kilometre radius of Toulouse, claiming that their’s is ‘The’ original! All this is just too meaty, chewy and heavy for me, so I have adapted a ‘Franglais’ version, that is full of flavour and lighter on the digestion (again, if you like the real thing, fine, but as I first stated this is not a French cookery blog)

Et Voila! Recipe number two –

Whimps Cassoulet


Serves 2 generously


2 boneless breast of free range chicken cut into quarters

A can of cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed

100g of smoked back bacon roughly chopped into cm cubes

or half a pack of smoked lardons if available

4 – 6 slices of chorizo roughly sliced

1 medium shallot finely sliced

1 large clove of garlic crushed

A good teaspoon of sweet mild or hot paprika, depending on taste (piment d’espelette is ‘the’ – see my recipe for ‘Spicy Red Vegetable Mediterranean soup) .

A dessertspoon of tomato puree (sundried works well)

A good glug of red wine

A good quality tin of chopped tomatoes

A sprinkling of oregano

A glug of olive oil


Heat the olive oil in a cast iron casserole (or slow cooker if preferred)

Brown the chicken on all sides to seal in the juices, remove from pan

Add the lardoons/bacon to the pan and sauté for 5 mns until beginning to brown

Add the chorizo, shallot and garlic and sauté for a further 2 mns

Return the chicken to the pan and add the paprika, then the tomato puree and the origano

Add the wine then the tin of tomatoes and the beans

Top up with enough water to just cover the ingredients

(I do not add extra salt or pepper to this dish, as the bacon provides ample salt and the paprika, ample heat)

Bring to the boil, reduce to a very low heat cover and simmer gently for 2 hours

I served this with a small portion of semolina pasta, but you could serve with rice or just warm crusty bread………A nice ‘robust’ southern red or Chianti goes down well with this dish……….

(Cumberland sausage works well in this dish also to make it a bit more ‘authentic’.  I sometimes add mushrooms if I have any to hand, I sauté these in butter and add just before serving, and butter beans make a more substantial dish – in the photo I have used white beans (as used in regular baked beans, but without the tomato sauce) as I could not get hold of any cannelloni )


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