Even more artichokes, chicken, and pasta

When I was making my Grandma Crippes’ chicken cacciatore recipe, I was reminded of another of my favorite dishes. It involves many of the same ingredients, but it’s completely different.

This recipe was one of my favorites dating back to college, where I’d regularly order it at the student union. When I got out of college, I missed the rosemary chicken artichoke pasta so much that I decided to make it myself.

Rosemary chicken artichoke pasta ingredients.

Luckily as a pasta dish, and one that was literally put together in front of me for years, it was real easy to suss out the ingredients. As a young recent college grad, though, I still consulted with my mom and we came up with a recipe that I’ve been using ever since.

Mine never tasted exactly the same, but in fact, it was better. It was homemade and my artichokes are marinated. Plus, I may go a little overboard with rosemary, which suits my tastes even better.

It’s also incredibly easy to make, if not quite as instant as the student union dish. But if you boil the tortellini in the Dutch oven, it easily can be another one-pot pasta dish.

All in all, it’s perfect.

And I’ll work on making fewer pasta dishes here soon.

So pretty, and tasty too.

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

  • 1 bag frozen cheese tortellini (I like the tri-colored stuff because it’s pretty), cooked according to package instructions
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 lb. chicken breasts, chopped
  • 2 T. oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Fresh rosemary, chopped, to taste
  • 1 (14 oz) large jar marinated quartered artichokes hearts, drained
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 jar alfredo sauce (I get the one with garlic, but you can do traditional or whatever you like)

Directions

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and chicken, and saute until the chicken is cooked through, stirring occasionally. Add in some of the rosemary (I like to add more as it nears completion too), and salt and pepper, as the chicken is cooking.

Once chicken is cooked, add in the artichokes and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes, continuing to stir occasionally. Add in the tomatoes and cook another 1 to 2 minutes, until just warmed. Stir in the sauce and heat until boiling (it should happen quick with a good Dutch oven).

Add back in the pasta and more rosemary (if desired), stir to combine, and enjoy!

Making homemade bread even better

Like Oprah, I love bread.

I love it in all its forms, but one of my favorites is the one I made earlier this year, since it’s so simple and yet so tasty. I also love the store-bought jalapeno-cheddar bread, but I’d never thought to make it myself.

Then, I came across a recipe from 50 Campfires that pretty much combined the two. It basically took the recipe I used earlier this year, and then just added jalapenos and cheddar.

I forgot to snap a pic before I started, but picture the ingredients from my earlier bread recipe and then picture them mostly combined to look like this floury dough ball.

I decided to give it a shot.

My only concern as I was making it was the sheer amount of jalapenos. I like spicy but I have my limits, and this bread includes two in the dough (and rises for nearly 24 hours with them in it) and then one on top.

Mercifully, if you follow the instructions to remove the seeds from the two that go in the dough and just keep them for the one on top, it’s not overly spicy. There’s a little kick from the top slices but otherwise, it’s pretty mild. I’m sure the yeast and cheese help.

It’s more effort than store-bought but even better, and considering how quickly this stuff disappeared, I’ll be making it again (and again).

The cutest and tastiest little ball of bread ever.

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

  • 3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 t. active dry yeast
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 c. grated sharp cheddar, divided (I didn’t really measure but this is a good reference amount)
  • 3 jalapeno peppers, divided
  • 1 ½ c. warm water

Directions

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt, and yeast. Add in all but 4 T. of the grated cheddar cheese. Seed and chop two of the jalapenos, and add into the flour mix. Stir to combine all.

Add the water, and stir until a shaggy, sticky dough forms (a dough scraper works really well for this).

Cover the bowl, preferably with plastic wrap (grease it if you expect it to rise to touch the wrap). Let the dough rise in a cool, dry place (not the refrigerator) for 12 to 24 hours.

Heat oven to 450 degrees.

Place the Dutch oven in the oven, covered, for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, transfer the dough to a heavily floured surface and shape it into a rounded loaf, but don’t knead it.

When the Dutch oven is ready, carefully remove from oven and remove lid. Carefully place the dough inside, and cover again. Bake covered for 30 minutes.

Carefully remove from oven, and remove lid. Sprinkle the top of the loaf with the remaining cheddar, and the sliced jalapeno (with seeds, if desired) and set slices on top. Bake uncovered for another 10 to 15 minutes until the bread and cheese are golden brown.

Carefully remove loaf from the Dutch oven, place on a rack to cool (for at least an hour before slicing), and enjoy!

Sausage strata made simple

When I made this week’s recipe, I was mad at myself for not making it sooner and not making it more often throughout my life. Seriously, what have I been doing missing out on the best, easiest brunch dish ever?!

Strata is the ultimate impress-company-without-doing-much-work meal, and I didn’t think to make it regularly so that I could have breakfast, brunch, and/or lunch for almost a week. I’ve been a fool.

Strata ingredients.

I’ve learned my lesson now, though.

Recipes abound for how to make this but there’s no real universal dish or way to make it, so I did it my way, and therefore I loved it. But this is one of those recipes where you can substitute pretty much anything.

For my tastes, I wanted sausage, pepper, and onion. I also wanted the, well, sour taste of sourdough bread instead of the plainer french bread. But your mileage may vary and that’s fine.

Prefer bacon? Do it. Hate onions? Skip ‘em, or replace with another veggie.

Oh, and it can all be made in one pot.

It’s truly an amazing dish and so universal. I’ll definitely be making it again soon.

*nom nom noms*

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. breakfast sausage
  • 1 T. oil, depending on how fatty your sausage is
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium green pepper, chopped
  • 1 sourdough boule, roughly torn into pieces
  • 2 c. cheese, plus more for topping (I used Cabot’s Mac & Cheese that’s a mix of Parmesan, Swiss, and cheddar, but whatever works)
  • 12 eggs
  • 3 c. milk
  • 1 ½ t. dried oregano
  • 1 ½ t. dried (or fresh) basil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

The night before you plan to cook the strata, thoroughly cook the sausage (using oil if necessary) in a large Dutch oven over medium heat, adding onions and peppers part-way through so that they are softened.

Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool completely.

Meanwhile, mix together the eggs, milk, herbs and spices, and cheese. Place the torn bread pieces in the Dutch oven with the sausage mix, and stir to combine. Pour the egg mixture over the sausage mixture. It’s OK if it’s a little soupy, as the bread will absorb it over time.

Cover and refrigerate the mixture overnight.

In the morning, heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the Dutch oven, still covered, in the oven and bake the mixture for 45 minutes to an hour until the the eggs are cooked through, adding another half cup or so of cheese to the top about 15 minutes before the dish is complete.

Allow to cool slightly, if possible, and enjoy!

Start St. Pat’s right with beef stew

I admit if I really wanted to do St. Patrick’s Day right I would have made corned beef and cabbage, but beef stew sounded better.

Guinness beef stew ingredients.

I found an ideally titled recipe for Guinness beef stew and thought this would be the perfect time to make it. Then, I looked at the recipe and found its ingredients, aside from the Guinness, to not really be my tastes.

So, I started looking for what would be my tastes and found that I didn’t see a single beef stew recipe that looked up my alley. Then, I just decided to make my own recipe.

The ingredients were all the things I thought would be in my ideal beef stew and then just added Guinness to that.

Mercifully, it worked perfectly. Well, again, to my tastes.

My only mistake was a tad too many potatoes. I wanted to clip up the three large russets we had and uh, that made for a pretty potato-y stew. But there are worse things.

It was time consuming, but that was expected. And it’s not very difficult or active time so that’s OK too. All in all, it’s just a good weekend dish.

Beer and beef, what could be better?!

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

  • 2 lb. beef chunks
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 T. oil
  • 3 small to medium onions, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 can or ½ pint diced tomatoes
  • 1 c. flour
  • 20 oz Guinness
  • 4 c. broth (any will do)
  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • 1 parsnip, chopped
  • 3 medium potatoes, chopped
  • 4 celery, chopped
  • 1 ½ c. frozen peas
  • 1 T. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 t. dried oregano
  • Parsley, chopped

Directions

Heat Dutch oven over medium heat and add 1 to 2 T. oil. Brown beef chunks 5 to 10 minutes, adding salt and pepper as you stir. Add onions and cook another 5 minutes. Add garlic and tomatoes and cook another 1 to 2 minutes.

Add flour and stir it in until mixed 1 to 2 minutes more.

Slowly add Guinness and broth, and cook until boiling. Reduce heat, cover, and cook on the stove top for about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat oven to 325 degrees.

After about 45 minutes, add parsnips, potatoes, carrots, and celery to the Dutch oven. Cover again and cook in the oven for an hour and a half or so.

Add Worcestershire sauce, oregano, parsley, and peas. Cook in the oven for another 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool for 5 to 10 minutes, and enjoy!

Fun times on Fish Fry-day

Lent has begun. Like many lapsed Catholics, I still generally keep track of the beginning of the Lenten season and its many holy days even though I no longer follow those traditions.

Still, this felt like as good a time as any to have a fish fry for those who do go without meat on Fridays during Lent. And anyway, I love fish and chips.

Fish fry ingredients.

I’ve generally avoided making it, though, as I’m bad at deep frying since I so rarely do it, and because I’ve not had good luck at finding a good batter. I’d like to tell you that my attempt this week went off without any hitches and I’ll now be doing Fish Fry-days every week, but dear readers, that was not the case.

The nadir was when I spilled hot oil on my shirt (but avoided burning myself badly!) and dropped a fish fillet on the floor. The peak was high, though. The beer batter was divine, my choice to use Alaskan pollock was a good one, and the fish fry was ultimately a delicious success.

Aside from being generally clumsy, I also, uh, tried to do too much, trying a baked fish recipe and a fried fish one on the same night, each with their own side. And doing all this mid-week after a couple of busy, hectic weeks.

But I’m not giving up.

After all, maybe it just was not my week to try new things (she writes as she just spent an hour and a half walking because she still doesn’t know her way around campus).

Fish Fry-day!!!

Here’s what I did, following a Serious Eats recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. cornstarch
  • 1 (12 oz) can beer (ale or lager, I used Hamm’s because I’m classy)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 to 1 ½ lbs. skinless white fish fillets (like cod, haddock, or pollock)
  • Pepper, to taste
  • About 6 c. canola oil for frying
  • Malt vinegar, for serving (optional)

Directions

Whisk together the flour, cornstarch, beer, egg, and salt in in a medium bowl, and stir until there are no lumps. Cover bowl and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes and up to 3 hours.

Begin to heat the oil in a large Dutch oven to bring temperature to 375 degrees over medium heat.

Pat the fish dry with paper towels and season with pepper, and any additional salt as desired.

Once the batter is ready, drop each fillet into the batter bowl. Once temperature of oil reaches 375 degrees, pick up a fillet with a pair of tongs and carefully place in the hot oil (the recipe recommends holding it in the oil for a few seconds but with my coated Dutch oven, nothing stuck if I didn’t hold it), and repeat with as many fillets will fit without overcrowding.

Cook for about 5 minutes until golden, turning as necessary and adjusting heat as necessary, and then use tongs to remove to paper towels to drain. Repeat the process with remaining fillets as necessary until all are cooked.

Serve with malt vinegar and chips, as desired, and enjoy!

Poland, pickles, perfection

Monday marks my favorite holiday, Casimir Pulaski Day. Growing up in Illinois, we had two unique school holidays, and this was one of them thanks to a large Polish population. The other, of course in the Land of Lincoln, was that we celebrated Lincoln’s birthday specifically not Presidents Day generally.

I have written in the past about how awesome Pulaski was (while making Polish foods) and how he warrants recognition for his role in the Revolutionary War.

Especially in these times, it’s important to remember and recognize that immigrants were playing a role in this country going back to literally its founding.

If you want a refresher about the “Father of the American Cavalry,” check out his Wikipedia page.

To celebrate the man, his contributions, and my own (one-quarter) Polish heritage, I try to find something to make from his home country each Pulaski Day. This year was no exception, and I’m rather proud of this one.

A unique Polish pickle soup to recognize a unique Polish man.

Polish pickle soup (aka zupa ogórkowa) ingredients.

There were several recipes online for zupa ogórkowa, which actually seems to translate as cucumber soup but most called it either sour cucumber or simply pickle soup. None of the recipes perfectly suited what I was picturing so I melded them all together.

I won’t lie, this soup will not be for everyone. But if you like dill pickles, and me and my sweetie do, boy is it great. It also all comes together relatively quickly.

For my tastes and sensibilities, it’s an awesome winter soup, featuring heavily those ingredients that in times past (and in lean times now) that keep well throughout a long winter and are easy enough to come by. We, in fact, had most ingredients on hand except not quite enough of them. And I did get fresh dill but the dried stuff would do just fine.

The results were pure perfection, particularly for this time of year and this holiday.

What lies beneath is an abundance of pickle flavored perfection.

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

  • 4 T. unsalted butter
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2-3 celery ribs, chopped
  • 2-3 medium carrots, chopped
  • 4 T. all-purpose flour
  • 6 c. broth (chicken or vegetable)
  • 1 T. dried oregano
  • 2 t. dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 medium russet potatoes, chopped
  • 1 c. pickle juice
  • 1 c. dill pickles, grated
  • Dill, chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Sour cream, for serving (optional)

Directions

Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, and celery and saute for 5 to 10 minutes and vegetables are softened.

Add the flour slowly and stir until combined. Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Add the thyme, oregano, and bay leaves. Then, stir in the broth.

Bring mixture to a boil, and then add the potatoes. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 20 to 25 minutes until the potatoes are just softened.

Add the pickle juice, pickles, salt and pepper to taste, and cook another 5 minutes, covered.

Stir in the dill, and adjust seasonings as necessary.

Serve with sour cream and any additional dill as desired, and enjoy!

Get full ahead of Fat Tuesday

Lent is coming. If you practice that sort of thing.

I don’t, but at this time of year, this relapsed Catholic still can’t help but think of the many holidays and sacrifices (that I’m not making) ahead. But mostly, I think of the Mardi Gras celebrations to come in New Orleans.

Then, I think of the the cajun food that I can enjoy.

Most years, when it’s still cold and miserable in Iowa, I make a hearty gumbo. But I wanted to try something different this year. So, I asked Mom for her popular jambalaya recipe.

Jambalaya ingredients

I can see why it’s so beloved amongst her friend group — it is literally full to the brim with meats and flavors. But like with the cassoulet I made earlier this year, I could not rationalize eating 6 pounds of meat, so I cut some back from her recipe (that seems to come from the USA Cookbook).

The ingredients I used were the same, but my amounts varied quite a bit, except in the rice to broth amounts so I could ensure I didn’t end up with jambalaya soup or dried rice.

It worked out perfectly, even though I made it on a weeknight. There was relatively little swearing, and I’m looking forward to the leftovers as it was still filled to the brim.

Hopefully, the Dutch oven will be empty before Fat Tuesday, which is March 5 this year. (Note: This is a joke. I would not keep food around that long.)

Brimful of jambalaya in the Dutch oven. Nom noms.

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

  • ½ c. vegetable oil
  • 1 lb. andouille sausage, cut into ½ inch slices
  • 1 lb. chicken breast, cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 3 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (I used more)
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped (I used one red and one green)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 t. dried basil (I used more)
  • ¼ t. cayenne (ha, I used way more, try 2 t.)
  • 2 c. long grain rice
  • 4 ½ c. chicken or vegetable broth, preferably homemade
  • 1 (14 oz.) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
  • 1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • ¾ c. chopped fresh parsley, preferably flat-leaf
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium to medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook until browned, about 10 minutes. Use slotted spoon to remove and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate or bowl. Add the chicken pieces, and cook until just cooked through, about 5 to 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove and transfer to the same plate or bowl as the sausage.

Add the onions to the to the Dutch oven, and cook until softened and translucent, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add in the garlic, celery, bell peppers, bay leaves, cayenne, and basil. Cook for another 5 minutes.

Add the (uncooked rice) and cook, stirring for about 5 minutes. Add the broth, tomato sauce, tomato paste, and add back in the meat. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and then cook covered for about 20 to 25 minutes, until most of the liquid has been absorbed.

Add in the shrimp, and parsley, and cook, covered, for another 5 or so minutes, until the shrimp is cooked through. Adjust the seasons, as necessary, and enjoy!

One more one-pot pasta dish

Wine and pasta are such a perfect pairing that it’s worth doing twice.

We’re replacing white with red, sticking with spaghetti, and focusing on red meat. That’s right, it’s time for spaghetti bolognese.

Spaghetti bolognese ingredients (except I really used my own broth instead of bouillon).

I adapted a recipe from “Cook It In Your Dutch Oven,” though — like the scampi — most recipes I found were pretty similar. What I liked about this one is that it added additional vegetables than just tomatoes; what I didn’t like is that it had the vegetable puree mostly replace tomatoes. Call me traditional but it’s not bolognese without an abundance of tomatoes.

So, instead of pureeing, I just diced the vegetables, cooked them longer, and had a chunkier sauce. Because of that, I also decided to use crushed tomatoes instead of tomato sauce so it was all chunky. I kept in the 3 T. of tomato paste too but I’m not sure it’s necessary. I just needed it for another recipe anyway so I kept it in.

I also used all broth instead of a mixture of water and broth, and replaced beef with buffalo.

I think all the changes worked. It made a hearty, heavy meal feel healthier, and all tasted great. My only small complaint is that this supposed weeknight meal took longer with cutting all the vegetables (rather than pureeing), and also isn’t *that* short even without it. Still worth it, though, and made for days of yummy leftovers.

Nom nom nom.

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. ground buffalo, or any ground meat
  • 6 oz. pancetta, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 1 celery rib, diced
  • 1 T. unsalted butter
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 (14 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
  • 3 T. tomato paste, optional
  • 1 c. dry red wine
  • 5 c. broth (I used homemade chicken vegetable broth but any will do)
  • ½ c. grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving (I used more)
  • 1 lb. spaghetti, uncooked
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

Heat butter and oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and the onion, carrot, and celery. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes until the vegetables have softened.

Add the ground meat and tomato paste, if using, and cook until the meat is just cooked through, about another 8 to 10 minutes.

Stir in the diced tomatoes and the wine, and cook for about 5 minutes to reduce the liquid total by about half, stirring occasionally. Add broth and Parmesan, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook the sauce mixture for 20 minutes to let the flavors combine.

Increase the heat, and bring the sauce to a boil. Gently add in the pasta, and return to a simmer. Cook covered or partially covered — depending on how thick you like your sauce — for another 10 to 15 minutes until the pasta is cooked to desired tendency. Add more broth if necessary. Season with additional salt and pepper, if desired. Serve and add extra Parmesan, if desired, and enjoy!

Sumptuous shrimp scampi to share with your sweetheart

I have a thing about Valentine’s Day, and well, really, most dates in general: I don’t like them. I don’t like to dress up; I don’t like the fancy-pants restaurants you’re *supposed* to go to for special occasions; and mostly, I don’t like the pressure to have a romantic evening.

If they’re your thing, more power to you; make the reservations, and have a good time.

I was lucky, then, to find a partner who feels the same way I do. A restaurant that requires us to feel like we don’t belong is not a restaurant we’re going to, no matter the rave reviews. Advance planning, likewise, isn’t really our thing.

Instead, I usually try to find something special but simple to make for dinner — and yet, I also don’t feel pressured to do so, if I feel lazy or if take-out beckons. In past years, I’ve celebrated the holiday with peanut stew. This year, I found something even simpler and yet also fancier: shrimp scampi.

Shrimp scampi ingredients. They didn’t all fit but they would have if I didn’t buy large quantities of wine and olive oil.

I’d never made it before, and honestly, hadn’t gotten it in restaurants because it’s usually too pricey to justify what it is. But after tasting it, I can see why it’s a go-to fancy dinner order. It’s damn delicious.

It’s also still too easy to make at home to justify the upcharge for having it made for me. There’s few ingredients, and it’s even a one-pot meal. In all, it’s about a half-hour of work. It’s the perfect stay-at-home dinner date whether you have a special Valentine or not.

SHRAMMPIES!!!!

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. angel hair pasta or similar (I used spaghetti because I wanted whole wheat and I couldn’t find it in angel hair)
  • 1 ½ lb. peeled and deveined uncooked shrimp
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • ½ c. dry white wine (and, let’s be honest, more to serve in a glass on the side)
  • 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • ¼ t. red pepper flakes (I used more but we like a little more kick to our food)
  • 3 T. unsalted butter, cold and cut into smallish cubes
  • ¼ c. coarsely chopped parsley, flat-leaf preferred
  • Juice from ½ lemon

Directions

Bring water to a boil in a large Dutch oven. Add the pasta, cooking to al dente according to package instructions (between 7 and 12 minutes, depending on pasta type). Reserve ½ c. of cooking water, and then drain the pasta and set aside.

Meanwhile, pat the shrimp dry and season both sides with salt and pepper, to taste. In the same large Dutch oven where you cooked your pasta, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and cook for about 1 minute. Flip, and then add the wine, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Cook until the shrimp are just opaque and the wine has reduced by half, about 2 to 3 more minutes.

Remove the Dutch oven from heat, add the butter cubes, and stir until melted. Add the pasta, parsley, and lemon juice. Toss until combined, adding reserved pasta water by the tablespoon, until a sauce forms that coats the pasta. (Don’t worry if you don’t use all the water.) Serve immediately, and enjoy!

Cassoulet casserole!

This week’s recipe is another that has been on my list for years. I almost made it during my casserole year, but ended up *shrug emoji.*

This year, however, after reading that cassoulet is the ultimate Dutch oven dish, I figured I had to try it, and try it early this year.

Cassoulet ingredients.
Cassoulet ingredients.

Another hold up in my mission was, well, the ingredients in cassoulet. Not only are many of them hard to find, and therefore, not all that cheap, those ingredients are also extremely fatty meats that are not all that appetizing.

To make up for this fact, I mercifully found a vegetarian cassoulet. Only that seemed pretty boring.

So, I did what anybody — well, one other notable foodie at least — would do, I reverse engineered the vegetarian cassoulet to add the amounts and types of meats I wanted. I settled on pancetta and andouille sausage.

For the vegetarians, these can easily be skipped and my assumption that it would be boring was wrong. For the meat eaters, feel free to add duck fat, duck legs, salt pork, pork shoulder, chicken thighs, or any of the variety of meats that appear in the multitude of recipes for this French classic.

I did what tasted best to me, and dear reader, it was amazing.

I won’t lie, it’s time consuming, and the recipe can be tweaked in hundreds of ways to suit one’s tastes, but I can definitely see why cassoulet has the reputation it does, especially in a Dutch oven.

This cassoulet only gets better with the addition of garlicky bread crumbs (not pictured).

Here’s what I did, adapting the Epicurious vegetarian recipe:

Ingredients

For the cassoulet

  • 8 oz. pancetta
  • 3 medium leeks, white and pale green parts, sliced
  • 4 medium carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 celery ribs, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped (I used more)
  • 1 T. dried thyme
  • 2 parsley sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ⅛ t. ground cloves
  • 12 to 16 oz. andouille sausage, sliced
  • 16 oz. dried cannellini or great northern beans, soaked overnight
  • 1 quart broth, vegetable or chicken

For topping

  • 4 c. fresh bread crumbs from a baguette (about 1 baguette) (I actually did this and it was much better, and the bread can be days old as well; just tear bread into chunks and blend well for about a minute)
  • ⅓ c. olive oil
  • 1 T. chopped garlic (I didn’t measure)
  • ¼ c. chopped parsley (I used about half a bunch)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

For the cassoulet

Fry up the pancetta in a large Dutch oven. Once mostly cooked, add in the leeks, carrots, celery, garlic, and herbs and spices, and cook stirring occasionally for about 15 minutes until the vegetables are softened and lightly golden.

Add the beans, and broth, and bring to a boil. Cook partially covered, for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the sausage after about 30 minutes, and continue to cook for another 15 to 30 minutes, until beans are fully cooked through.

For the topping

Meanwhile, while the cassoulet cooks, make the garlicky bread crumbs. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, toss the bread crumbs with oil, garlic, and salt and pepper, until the crumbs are coated. Spread on a sheet pan and cook for about 12 to 15 minutes, stirring halfway through, until the mixture is crisp and golden. Cool the crumbs in the pan, and then return the bread crumb mixture to the medium bowl and stir in the parsley.

To finish

Mash some of the beans in the pot with a potato masher to thicken the broth. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Just before serving, sprinkle the cassoulet with the bread crumbs, and enjoy!