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Bean Recipes from Lynne Bigwood
April 14, 2005

I consulted two references to define "cassoulet."

One, from The Encyclopedia of Cooking: "cassoulet" - A haricot bean stew originating in the Languedoc region of France.  It is prepared from pork, mutton, and goose (or duck) and is made in an earthenware utensil known as the cassole d'Issel:  this name has evolved into the word cassoulet.  There are as many recipes for this dish as there are cooks.

The second, from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, by the original French cooking experts Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck: "French Baked Beans.  Cassoulet is a rich combination of beans baked with meats, as much a part of southwestern France as Boston baked beans are of New England. As cassoulet is native to a relatively large region of France, each part of which has its own specialties, arguments about what should go into this famous dish seem based on local traditions.  Fortunately all the talk can be regarded as so much historical background, for an extremely good cassoulet can be made anywhere out of beans and whatever of its traditional meats are available:  goose, game, pork, sausages, lamb, mutton.  The important item is flavor, which comes largely from the liquid the beans and meats are cooked in." 

The recipe from this book "makes no attempt to cut corners, for the concoction of a good cassoulet is a fairly long process.  You can prepare it in one day, but two or even three days of leisurely on-and-off cooking are much easier.  It calls for roast loin of pork, shoulder of lamb braised in wine, homemade sausage cakes, and beans cooked with pork rind, fresh bacon or salt pork, and aromatic vegetables.  The meats are cut into serving pieces and arranged in a casserole with the beans and various cooking juices.  Then the dish is baked in the oven for an hour to blend flavors" and crisp the breadcrumb topping.  "&. the splendid braising liquid (from the meats) gives character to the cassoulet.  But after you have made the dish once or twice, you will see that you can pretty well invent your own formula as long as you supply excellent flavor through one means or another."       

In summary, a cassoulet is a French stew made by slowly simmering beans with more than one kind of meat.  It can be made with leftover or uncooked meats including game. 

All of the recipes I found in my cookbooks used pork, poultry and sausage and a little ground cloves in place of the allspice in the French sausage.  Just a little bit of that unexpected spice adds a distinctive, delightful flavor.     

This easy variation is a recipe from The Bean Cookbook with a breadcrumb topping added.  Dry white wine could be substituted for the fruit juice to make the recipe more authentic.  Well-trimmed, cooked pork chops may also be added to the stew.  Adding more meat will increase the calories and fat in each serving.    

A traditional use would be to use this recipe and clean out the fridge after two or three days of cooking for a big holiday.  All the miscellaneous leftovers would be put to good use in a "new" dish.  Dry beans to the rescue! 


Leftover meats, including wild game, can be added with beans to Crockpot Cassoulet

Crock-pot Cassoulet

8 Servings              

395 calories/serving

19% calories from fat



3 medium carrots cut into ½ inch pieces (1 cup)

1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)

2 bay leaves

1/3 cup water

3 cans (15 ½ ounce) navy beans, drained and rinsed

1 6-ounce can tomato paste

½ cup apple or white grape juice concentrate

1 teaspoon garlic powder or dry or fresh minced garlic

½ teaspoon thyme, crushed

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, frozen individually

½ pound fully-cooked low-fat turkey sausage, sliced in ¼-inch thick slices


Crock-pot Method:

1. Put carrot, onion, bay leaves and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. 

Simmer, covered, for 5 minutes. 

2. Pour the carrot and onion mixture into the crock-pot.  Add the beans, tomato paste, juice concentrate and seasonings.  Stir.

3. Place the frozen chicken on top of the bean mixture.  Lay the sausage slices on top of the chicken. 

4. Cook on low heat setting for 9-10 hours or on the high heat setting for 5 ½ to 6 hours.  By using frozen chicken, the chicken will be tender but not overdone after cooking all day. 

5. Before serving, remove bay leaves and skim off any fat. 

6. Serve with a green salad, bread and fruit. 


Oven Method: 

1.  Follow steps 1, 2 and 3 substituting a 9 x 13 aluminum or glass pan for the crock-pot.  The pan should be approximately 2/3 full.

2.  Bake @ 200° F covered with foil or a lid for 4-5 hours. 

3.  One half hour before serving, turn the oven up to 350° F.  Remove and uncover the casserole.  Sprinkle 1 ½ - 2 cups of breadcrumbs over the top.  Return the casserole to the oven checking frequently after 15 minutes of baking to prevent over browning the topping.   

Chicken Salad Chapala

Makes 6 servings (about 1 cup each)

Preparation time: 20 to 25 minutes



Vegetable cooking spray

4        flour tortillas (8-inch)

16      ounces chicken breast, cooked, shredded or cubed

1        can (15 ounces) Pinto or Red Kidney beans or

          1 1/2 cups cooked dry-packaged Pinto or Red

          Kidney beans, rinsed, drained

1        can (15 ounces) Black beans or 1 1/2 cups

          cooked dry-packaged Black beans, rinsed, drained

1        cup cubed mango

1        medium zucchini, cut in half, sliced

1/2     cup chopped red bell pepper

1/4     cup chopped green onions and tops

6        cups torn salad greens

Honey-Cumin Vinaigrette (recipe follows).



1. Cut each tortilla into 6 wedges; spray tops with cooking spray. Bake on cookie sheet at 375° F. until browned and crisp, 5 to 8 minutes; reserve.

2. Combine chicken, beans, mango, zucchini, bell pepper and green onions in bowl; pour Honey-Cumin Vinaigrette over and toss.

3. Arrange salad greens on serving plates and spoon chicken salad over; garnish with reserved tortilla wedges.


Honey-Cumin Vinaigrette

Makes about 2/3 cup

1/2     cup orange juice

1-2     tablespoons olive oil

1        tablespoon honey

2 -3    teaspoons lime juice

1/4     teaspoon ground cumin


1. Mix all ingredients.


Tortilla wedges can be made 3 to 4 days in advance; store at room temperature in airtight container.


NOTE: Although B.E.A.N. recipes usually call for a specific variety, any canned or dry-packaged bean variety can be easily substituted for another.


Nutrient Information

Per serving: Calories 343; Fat 7g; % Calories from Fat 18; Calcium 131mg; Carbohydrate 49g; Folate 210mcg; Sodium 564mg; Protein 27g; Dietary Fiber 10g; Cholesterol 46mg


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Northarvest Bean Growers Association | 50072 East Lake Seven Road | Frazee, MN 56544
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