Recipe: Light and Easy Cassoulet

29 Jan

A cassoulet is a slow-cooked one-pot meal, originally from the south of France. It typically includes an assortment of meats, sausages, duck confit, and white beans, topped off with crispy bread crumbs. In essence, it is a hearty bean-based casserole meant to stick to your ribs.  But delicious as it may be, duck confit can be hard to come by. And while I appreciate hearty dishes as much as the next person, I wanted to see if I could make an equally flavorful version that was just a tiny bit lighter, relied upon easy-to-find ingredients appealing to all members of the family, and took less than a full day to make. So, out with the pork sausages and duck confit, and in with some turkey kielbasa and diced chicken breast. This cassoulet is also fantastic the next day, when the flavors have melded and the beans have thickened it a bit more.

Light and Easy Cassoulet

2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 lb. turkey kielbasa sausage, sliced  lengthwise and diced into quarters
1 lb. chicken breast, cubed
1 large onion, diced
3 carrots, diced (or 1.5 c. grated carrots)
3 celery stalks, diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
3 (14-oz.) cans small white beans (cannellini), undrained (or one large, 1 lb. 13 oz. can, undrained)
1 (14.5-oz.) can diced tomatoes with olive oil and garlic (or plain–see note below)
1 (14.5-oz.) can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano (or plain–see note below)
splash white wine (optional)
2 bay leaves
lots of freshly ground pepper

Preparation

1. Cook kielbasa in 1 tbsp. olive oil in Dutch Oven (or other heavy-bottomed pot) over medium-high heat until nicely browned. Add chicken and cook until no longer pink; remove kielbasa and chicken from pot.
2. Add the remaining 1 tbsp. olive oil to the pot, followed by the onion, carrot, celery, and a sprinkle of black pepper. Cook until soft, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen the savory bits remaining from the kielbasa and chicken. Add the garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes.
3. Return kielbasa and chicken to pot; mix into the vegetables. Add tomatoes, wine (if using), and bay leaves, plus another dusting of black pepper. NOTE: if using plain diced tomatoes, sprinkle roughly 1 tsp. each dried basil and oregano over top of the tomatoes. Mix well, then layer beans on top.
4. Simmer on low heat for about an hour, stirring gently every so often.
5. Serve cassoulet with hearty bread and a salad.

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