It’s no secret that my baking chops beat out my cooking skills in just about every way. From the flavors I prefer to the certainty and precision that a cake requires, baking is something that I just sort of get. Although that probably has more to do with the fact that I would rather eat a cupcake than a steak.
It’s too bad you can’t live on cupcakes.
But that’s why there are things like stew. Or in this case, cassoulet – which really is just a specific type of stew that includes white beans and usually pork or duck.
You see, you don’t really need a recipe for stew (or cassoulet). You just need to know what order to cook the ingredients. And you need to let it be.
You start with a dutch oven and get it nice and hot.
You cook some bacon or sausage to get things going.
You sear your meat.
You sauté your aromatics.
You add your other ingredients and get them all cooking.
You top it off with some herbs, cover it, put ‘er in the oven…
And you wait.
You don’t rush. You don’t stir the pot. You don’t increase the heat.
You let your kitchen warm up and fill your house with the scent of a hearty dinner.
You congratulate yourself for a grown-up dinner that is healthy, hearty and perfect for this unseasonably cold weather that has come our way.
This recipe makes a small batch of stew. It fed me for one dinner and two lunches, although I did add some cooked sorghum to stretch it when I brought it in for lunch. If you want to make this for a family, simply double just about everything. If you hate cannellini beans, use chickpeas. If you hate rosemary, use tarragon. No red wine?
Give up and make macaroni and cheese and then get your butt to the store. Just use stock. No dutch oven? Cook your meat in a skillet, but once you deglaze it, add all your ingredients to an oven-safe dish.
The rules for dishes like cassoulet (and any stew for that matter) aren’t quite as rigid as those for something like a macaron. So go ahead and make one – I promise it is worth the wait.
- 1/2 lb beef (most stores sell packages labeled for stew already diced, but any tougher cut of beef will work)
- 2 tablespoons gluten-free flour (an all purpose blend, corn starch, sorghum or potato starch would be best)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2-3 slices of bacon
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 small onion
- 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 cup diced tomatoes (about half a can)
- 1 cup cannellini beans (about half a can)
- Assorted fresh herbs for a bouquet garni – I used Thyme, rosemary, parsley and a bay leaf tied with cotton string
- 1 cup red wine
- Enough stock or water to cover the meat and other ingredients
- Salt & pepper to taste (How much salt you need will be determined by what liquid you use and if it already contains salt. Start with a generous pinch if you use water or salt-free broth)
- Heat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Toss your beef with the flour and a generous pinch of salt and pepper.
- Prep your other ingredients: chop your bacon into 1/2″ pieces, dice your beef into 2″ cubes, mince your garlic and peel and dice your onion.
- Tie your herbs together into a bouquet
- Add the olive oil to a small dutch oven over medium heat and cook the bacon until it is crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
- Brown the beef on all sides. You don’t need to cook it through (in fact you don’t want to), you just want to caramelize the outside of the meat.
- Remove the beef from the pan and set aside.
- Sautee your garlic and onions until the onions become translucent.
- Pour the red wine into the pan to deglaze all those lovely bits of meat clinging to the bottom of the pan.
- Add the beef and bacon back to the pan along with the carrot, tomatoes and cannellini beans.
- Pour in the stock until the ingredients are covered and bring to a boil.
- Add the bouquet garni and cover the dutch oven.
- Place it in the oven and cook for 2 hours.