Cassoulet the Ouita Way
I always meant to try making cassoulet, a slow-cooked stew of beans and flavorful meats and poultry prepared, with many variations, in southwestern France. Often cassoulet includes duck or goose confit. Here's a Paula Wolfert recipe for cassoulet in the style favored in Toulouse. I may not have to spend a week making cassoulet after all. Chef Ouita Michel of the marvelous Holly Hill Inn in Midway plans to cook a special cassoulet made with fine local ingredients. I bought tickets after I read Ouita's description of the dish and the meal, excerpted below (links are my additions):
On Friday, November 14, we are celebrating the coming change of seasons with a cassoulet dinner, one of my favorite dishes for the fall. Not only is cassoulet a delicious meal, but it provides a wonderful experience of sharing, beginning with friends gathered around the warm, bubbling meal to crack the crust.
Cassoulet has humble peasant origins in Southern France. It's a slow-cooked, rich stew of various meats, white beans and herbs. The dish is named after the pot in which it is traditionally baked - the cassole - which is shaped like an inverted cone - designed to maximize the area of the delicious crust.
We began the preparation of our Holly Hill cassoulet more than two weeks ago by curing and slow cooking plump geese in duck fat for confit. Local producer Patrick Kennedy from Stone Cross Farm has provided his juicy pork belly and Nancy Cirigliano and Kathy Meyer their fabulous lamb. All these meats, plus a special garlic sausage from France, are slow cooked with white beans to make this most comfortable of comfort foods.
(Even though this sounds like a meat lover's paradise - and it surely is - we are also preparing a vegetarian cassoulet, featuring the local and organic fall harvest from Elmwood and Three Springs.
And speaking of local lamb - later this week I'll "dish" about a source close to central Kentucky.