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I am not sure how I managed to survive without a pressure cooker for most of my life.  It is definitely one of the most amazing kitchen gadgets I own and it continues to amaze me with its ability to cook what should be a slow cooked meal in MINUTES.  I wanted to make a cassoulet (a french bean and meat stew that some people make over the course of three days) and make it for dinner on a weeknight.  Oh, and the real recipe calls for more fat than I need to eat in a month so I trimmed it down a bit.

For the most part this recipe turned out well.  There are a few things I would change next time but it was still really tasty.  The amazing thing about the pressure cooker is that it can cook dried beans in 25 minutes.  I had a hard time believing this was possible so I did soak mine for 20 minutes in hot water but I don’t think this was necessary.

“Real” cassoulet which hails from the south of France calls for duck confit (duck braised in fat) which I can’t get at my local store.  I wanted to use chicken anyway to keep the fat g-s down a little.  The “real” recipe also calls for quite a bit of lard, which I also don’t know where to get and that is ok.  A little olive oil was used to brown the meat and it was still a very rich dish.

When you slow cook this dish the “real” way and bake it in the oven for hours, a bread crumb crust is called for that gets punched down every hour or so.  Well, this was a screw up on my part.  I had too much liquid to allow for a bread crumb crust to sit on top.  It all sank into the broth and got kind of mushy.  Next time, I will skip the bread crumbs as they did not add anything positive to the dish.

In the photo above, the stew was transferred from the pressure cooker to an oven safe cast iron pot in my attempt to make this bread crumb crust.  Big fail on that part.

The essence of the dish is this: brown chicken (or duck) and sausages and add to a pot with white beans, tomatoes, chicken stock, herbs (I used thyme and rosemary) and cook for a really really long time.  Or cook in a pressure cooker for 25 minutes.

I served the dish over rice but when I had it again for lunch the next day I dipped toasted naan in the sauce.  Yummy either way.

I wanted to pair this dish with a wine from the same region, the Languedoc region of France.  This is a wine I love and it was the last bottle in my stash which made the meal even more memorable.

This area in France has been making wine for ages, however, most of it was not really good until recently.  Based on how much I love this wine I will look for more wines made in this area.  Because it is less prestigious than the Rhone or Burgundy, land is less expensive so the wines are less expensive.  This wine is a blend of 60% Carignan, 20% Syrah and 20% Grenache.  I love all of these grapes and in the French style they lead to elegant and earthy wines that really pair nicely with savory dishes.  Yum.

If you like to cook and don’t have days and days to make fancy dishes, get a pressure cooker.  Seriously.  Right now.
KG – If you made it all the way to end, I dedicate this post to you as I think this GF and delicious dish will be right up your alley.

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