Rancho Gordo Cassoulet

Ingredients

  • 1 lb RG Cassoulet beans
  • 1 pound slab fresh pastured Berkshire pork belly, cut into 2 pieces
  • large turnip unless you can get young ones, then get 8 of those. cut into chunks
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 large white onion, chopped
  • Bunch, green onions, sliced
  • 4 carrots, cut into nice thick pieces
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • Bulb of garlic, smashed
  • Brown mushrooms, sliced
  • Salt, pepper and Provence seasonings

Directions

The Mirepoix

In a large preferably iron skillet or Dutch oven, add a 1/2 stick of your best salted butter. Adding a bit of smashed garlic, saute the mushrooms until darkened. Set mushrooms aside.
In the butter, saute turnips and carrots, sprinkling with brown sugar. Cook on medium high heat so that a brown edge develops. Set aside.
Add all other vegetables including garlic to skillet and saute until slightly softened but still crisp. (Remember, this will all cook in the beans as well so you want to have everything with some life left in it to undergo the bean cooking process.)

The Beans

In a stock pot, add the beans and cover with water per package instructions. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes, add all of the sauteed vegetables (except the mushrooms) and pork belly, reduce to simmer and cook uncovered until beans are almost as soft as you would want them for eating. Stir as little as possible but make sure nothing is caking on the bottom. Add reserved mushrooms at that point. Add a bit of water as needed in the cooking process.

The Finish

Before going into the oven, and using a metal serving spoon, smash the beans against the side of the pot to release even more flavor from the beans. NOT all of them, just the one layer that is against the sides of the pot. (I was taught this wonderful secret to better beans by a Mexican lady selling charro beans from her stand near the Alamo in San Antonio. If you don't know where that is, I can't help you.)
Now put your pot into a 425 preheated oven. When your beans are crusted on top, it's ready.

The Serve

Set the pot on the table with bowls and utensils and let the diners serve from the pot the way the french do it! If you wish, pull the pork belly onto a separate cutting board and let them slice off a chunk to go back into their beans.

Serve with a great bread, butter and cheap red wine. Candles in a darkened room never hurt either.

JVF

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