Cook for a crowd with this cassoulet recipe

Classic cassoulet (Photo provided)

Entertaining a crowd can be a lot of work, but there’s also a lot of excitement and fulfillment when welcoming loved ones into your home. When hosting includes homecooking, hosts may worry they won’t get to spend too much time with their guests. However, when using a slow cooker to prepare meals, hosts can get much of the work done long before the first guest arrives.

Hosts who want to show off their culinary chops can try this recipe for “Classic Cassoulet” from Andrew Schloss’ “Cooking Slow: Recipes for Slowing Down and Cooking More” (Chronicle Books). A stew made with meat and beans, cassoulet was once peasant fare that originated in southwestern France. However, Schloss notes that cassoulet is now one of the most sophisticated dishes that is perfected by moving it from the oven to the slow cooker, making it an ideal offer at dinner parties where food will be the focus.

Classic Cassoulet


1 pound dried large white beans, such as cannellini or baby limas

1 duck, such as Muscovy or Pekin, about 4 lbs.

1 pound boneless leg of lamb, cut into 2-inch cubes

2 teaspoons coarse sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

8 ounce garlic sausages, cut into 2-inch pieces

8 ounces smoked sausages, such as andouille, cut into 2-inch pieces

1 large yellow onion, chopped

2 large celery stalks, cut into 1/2-inch slices

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon Homemade Italian Seasoning (see below)

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Pinch of ground cloves

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 quart good-quality low-sodium beef broth or chicken broth, or a mixture

1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained

2/3 cup dried bread crumbs

1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


Pick over the beans for stones or grit. Rinse in a colander and drain well. Put the beans in a bowl and add water to cover by at least 3 inches. Let soak overnight, then drain.

Meanwhile, cut the duck into 8 serving pieces and trim off all visible fat and excess skin; reserve the duck pieces and duck fat and skin separately. Season the duck pieces and lamb with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Cook the duck fat and skin in a large heavy skillet over medium heat until between 1/4 and 1/3 cup of fat is in the pan, about 4 minutes. Remove the solid pieces of fat and skin and discard. Brown the duck in the hot fat on both sides and set aside. Brown the lamb and set aside. Brown the sausage pieces on all sides. Set aside.

Add the onion and celery to the skillet and sauté until lightly browned. Add the garlic, Italian seasoning, nutmeg and cloves, and sauté until aromatic, about 1 minute. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Add the beef broth and tomatoes and bring to a boil.

To assemble the cassoulet, layer the beans and meats, in alternating layers (four of beans, three of meats), in a 6-quart slow cooker, starting and ending with beans. Pour the liquid over all. Cover and cook until the beans are tender, 8 to 10 hours on low.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Mix the bread crumbs and parsley in a small bowl and scatter over the top of the cassoulet. Bake until the top is browned and bubbling, about 30 minutes. Serve immediately.

Serves 12.

Homemade Italian Seasoning


Makes 1/4 cup

1 tablespoon dried thyme leaves

1 tablespoon dried basil leaves

11/2 teaspoons crushed dried rosemary leaves

1 teaspoon dried marjoram leaves

1 teaspoon rubbed sage

2 teaspoons coarse sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Mix together the thyme, basil, rosemary, marjoram, sage, salt, and black pepper. Store for up to 1 month in a closed container in a dark cabinet.


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