I thought there was a good Usher “My Way – Cassoulet” joke here… but there’s not. After a very long thanksgiving weekend full of friends, food, music, dirty pantry bits, and drinking, I’ve decided that this incredibly hearty meal will help mend my soul. It’s my version of a classic french dish, cassoulet. Usually made with sausages, duck, and beans, cooked very slowly, it’s very similar to Cholent. This one is obviously not kosher. Braising the cheesecloth-wrapped farro in my version gives the wheat so much depth of flavor that you could never get by simply boiling it. This is very untraditional for cassoulet but is classic for Cholent. I’ve also taken a few short cuts. If my mom knew I was using canned beans instead of soaking dried ones overnight, she would possibly disown me. Same goes for the farro. Whatever, sometimes I’m lazy, ok?
It doesn’t look all that great after it’s been cooking for hours. Tas calls it “that brown mushy stuff”. The flavor on the other hand is incredible. Meaty and beany. I don’t recommend making this on date night. Comma sets in fairly quickly. And more often than not, you’ll have gas. Sorry, it’s just the reality of eating beans.
Keep leftovers! Even better than enjoying this dish hot out of the pan, is reheating the leftovers and topping it with a soft boiled egg for an extremely tasty breakfast or brunch. And, if I’m going to be honest, that is probably the reason I even make this. More reasons to eat eggs. Enjoy!
[one_half padding=”0 20px 0 0px”]1 1/2 lb beef chuck, cut into 2″ pieces or left whole
4 Italian sausages
4 strips thick cut bacon, cut into lardons
1 cup quick cooking farro, or regular farro soaked in water overnight
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 1/2 Tb sweet paprika
1 Tb tomato paste
2 cans (15oz) white kidney beans, drained
1 can (15oz) red kidney beans, drained
2 1/4 cups low sodium beef stock, homemade is best
4 sprigs thyme
1 dried bay leaf
1 large beef bone, optional but adds lots of flavor
Salt & Fresh pepper to taste[/one_half][one_half_last padding=”0 0px 0 20px”]Pre-heat oven to 300˚F. Prepare the farro by layering two large square sheets of cheesecloth and placing it in the middle. Tie up the ends with kitchen twine to make a sack. Leave a good amount of space for the farro to expand in the sack.
Heat a large roasting pan or skillet with tall sides and lid over medium hight heat. Fry the bacon lardons for 4-5 minutes until all the fat has rendered out. Remove the bacon leaving the fat in the pan. Season the beef generously with salt and pepper. Sear the beef and sausages in batches until browned on all sides. Make sure the brown bits along the bottom of the pan do not burn. If they get dark, turn the heat down to medium. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Add the chopped onions to the pan and sweat, scraping the bottom, until translucent. About 7 minutes. Add the paprika and tomato paste. Cook for a minute to release the oils from the paprika and caramelize the paste. De-glaze the pan with 1/2 cup of the beef stock while scraping to release all the bits from the bottom of the pan. Reduce by half.
Add all of the beans to the pan and stir together with the onions. Transfer the bacon, sausage, and beef back into the pan by nestling them in the beans. Add the beef bone as well if using. Top with the remaining beef stock, thyme, and bay leaf. Season generously with salt and fresh black pepper. Turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil.
Cover the pan and transfer to the oven. Braise for 2 1/2 hours. Remove the lid and braise for an additional 30 minutes.
Let rest for 15 minutes, remove bay leaf and thyme sprigs. Cut open the farro sack and enjoy! Or… Boil a 6 minute egg and enjoy![/one_half_last]