Country Pork Cassoulet

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The traditional French Cassoulet is usually a 2 day cooking affair that originated in the south of France, containing meat (typically pork sausages, goose, duck and sometimes mutton), pork skin and white beans. This simplified dish comes together in a few hours, most of which is time spent simmering in the oven while its delicious smells permeate your kitchen. Don’t skimp on the fresh thyme, it adds the decidedly French flavor to this hearty dish.  Like most slow simmered meals, it tastes better the second day, and absolutely begs for a crusty baguette to soak up all those tasty juices.  Add a green salad sprinkled with jewel colored dried cranberries, and you have a hearty winter comfort food meal fit for company.  This dish is the perfect excuse to haul out the heavy Le Creuset cast iron pot sitting in your cupboard.  If you’re lucky, you inherited your mother’s orange one from years ago! Be sure to ask our friendly deli staff to thick-cut the smoked bacon for you.

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Note: Since the bacon and sausage are both salty pieces of meat, taste and add salt in small amounts.

Ingredients

2 pounds boneless pork butt, cut into large chunks, approx. 2 inches
2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced, plus 1 whole clove
2 whole sprigs fresh thyme, plus 2 tablespoons thyme leaves
5-6 slices thick cut Lepp’s double smoked  bacon, cut into ½ -inch pieces
¼ ring Lepp’s Farmer Sausage (or any other smoked sausage), cut into ½ inch pieces
1 large stalk celery, chopped
1/2 medium carrot, peeled and chopped

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 litre of Lepp’s Chicken Broth (found in our freezer section)
1 cup white wine
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with their juices
2 bay leaves
2 (14-ounce) cans white beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup coarse bread crumbs (you can use fresh or panko)
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Method
    1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
    2. Place the pork butt chunks in a heavy pot such as your beautiful Le Creuset, with half the onion, half the minced garlic, and the thyme sprigs.  Cover with a lid or foil and bake for 1 -1 ½  hours.
    3. Discard the thyme sprigs and turn the oven temperature down to 300 degrees.
    1. Meanwhile, in a deep frying pan,  add the bacon.
    2. After the bacon starts to brown a bit and release some of the fat, add the celery, carrot, salt, pepper, thyme leaves, farmer sausage, and the remaining onion and garlic (minced and whole) and cook until vegetables have softened, about 5 more minutes.
    3. Add the broth, wine, tomatoes, bay leaves, and beans and bring to a simmer.  Make sure to stir up all the tasty brown bits from the bottom of the pan and then add everything to the cooked meat in the pot.
    4. In a small bowl, mix the olive oil, bread crumbs, and parsley.
    5. Sprinkle the bread-crumb mixture over the Cassoulet and bake for 1 ½  hours, uncovered, occasionally pressing the bread crumbs into the cassoulet to thicken it.