What the heck is a cassoulet? I had heard the word before, but wasn’t too sure what it was before it became the Daring Cooks’ challenge for January.
Cassoulet is a particular kind of white bean stew that originated in France. It’s become one of those dishes that ignite debates over who made it first, and what recipe is authentic. Sorry to offend, folks, but mine isn’t especially “authentic”, being vegetarian. There is usually a lot of meat involved.
One of the things that you see in many cassoulet recipes is duck confit. One of the requirements of the challenge was to make some kind of confit, and again there were some veggie options. I had to look up what a confit was, exactly, since I’ve always heard it associated with duck. Basically, ‘confit’ is used to describe a few things, in particular a method of preserving food by cooking it in a fat. In the case of meats, they are usually cooked in their own fats. For things like garlic, it is cooked in oil.
I made garlic confit.
So what exactly does one use garlic confit for? You can use it much the same way you might use a baked garlic – the cooking process mellows out the flavours, and gives it a creamy spreadable texture. This makes it (and the oil it’s cooked and stored in) easy to use in dips, soups, sauces… just about anything. Being a big lover of garlic, I thought this would be a fun thing to try making.
That done, I had to decide how to retain the spirit of a cassoulet without the meat. I opted to make the seitan sausages from last month’s challenge, and use them in the stew. I also added some smoked paprika to add some depth to the flavour.
I’m pretty sure it didn’t taste like a real cassoulet, but it was really good!
Our January 2011 Challenge comes from Jenni of The Gingered Whisk and Lisa from Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. They have challenged the Daring Cooks to learn how to make a confit and use it within the traditional French dish of Cassoulet. They have chosen a traditional recipe from Anthony Bourdain and Michael Ruhlman.
Recipes after the jump!
Continue reading Daring Confit & Cassoulet