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A cassoulet to celebrate the new wine ... not too seriously.

A cassoulet to celebrate the new wince...not too seriously The third Thursday of November will once again be a day of good-homored high jinks in the world of wine. that's the day the French government releases the beaujolais nouveau. This triggers a flurry among oenophiles who want the frist samples of these wines--which are only a month or so from the vine.

Now American vintners have jumped into the act, bottling their own versions for early release. No matter the nationality, there is good reason for the wine world's yearly anticipation. This is a chance to preview the quality of beaujolais wines of the same vintage that will be stored for aging. And the young wines have a fresh, fruity character with an appeal of its own. One sip, however, tells you beaujolais nouveau isn't for serious discussion. Alain Beraud, deputy director of the Union Professionnelle des Vins du Beaujolais in France, explains, "It's a wine for friendship and festivity."

So we propose that you gather a couple of dozen friends and built an informal wine tasting-dinner around a selection of domestic and imported beaujolais nouveau (expect to pay $5 to $8 a bottle) and a grand cassoulet.

Dinner with new wine

Pacific Cassoulet Orange Slaw with Balsamic Vinegar Baguettes butter Basket of Apples Cambozola Cheese Beaujolais Nouveau, Domestic and French

The wine may take no time to reach the glass, but making the cassoulet takes some engineering that can be worked out in steps over 2 or more days. Mostly, the cassoulet activities take place on their own in the oven or a simmering pot, needing little more than an occasional check.

Pacific Cassoulet

2 pounds Great Northern beans 4 to 5 pounds lamb shanks, cracked 1 pound bone-in pork shoulder or butt 1 duck (4 to 5 lb.), thawed if frozen 1-1/2 pounds sliced bacon 2 large onions, coarsely chopped 3 medium-size firm-ripe tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped 2 large green bell peppers, cored, seeded, and coarsely chopped 4 quarts regular-strength chicken broth 1 cup canned tomato puree 2 large carrots, peeled 2 tablespoons chopped parsley 1 teaspoon dry thyme leaves 1/2 teaspoon dry rosemary leaves 1 dry bay leaf 10 cloves garlic, cut in half 1 bottle (750 ml.) beaujolais nouveau or dry white wine 1-1/2 pounds garlic or Polish sausage Bread crumbs (directions follow)

Sort beans for debris, then rinse and place in an 8- to 10-quarte pan; cover with 4 quarts water. Either bring to a boil, let stand 1 hour, and drain, or let beans stand in cold water overnight, then drain.

Meanwhile, cut lamb and pork off bones and into 2- to 3-inch chuncks; reserve bones. Cut up duck; add neck; reserve giblets for other uses.

Line the bottom of 2 roasting pans, each about 2-1/2 inches deep and 12 by 16 inches, with bacon. Evenly divide lamb, pork, bones, duck (skin up), onions, tomatoes, and bell peppers over the bacon. Bake in a 450 [degrees] oven until duck skin and meats are lightly browned, about 30 minutes. After 15 minutes, turn meat in the melting fat to coat, then exchange pan positions.

On a 15-inch square of cheesecloth, lay roasted duck back (broken in half) and neck; tie surely to enclose.

Add to drained beans 3-1/2 quarts broth, the duck in cheesecloth, duck wings, lamb and pork bones, tomato puree, carrots, parsley, thyme, rosemary, bay leaf, and garlic. Cover and bring to a boil on high heat, then simmer slowly until beans are very tender to bite, 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 hours. If liquid evaporates, exposing beans or bones before beans are cooked, add water to cover by at least 1/2 inch.

As beans cook, put contents of roasting pans in 1 pan. Add wine and remaining 2 cups broth. Cover tightly with foil. Bake in a 450 [degrees] oven until meat pulls apart easily, to to 3-1/2 hours.

About 20 minutes before the meat is done, add the sausage to roasting pan and cover tightly. When all the meats are cooked, use a slotted spoon to transfer contents of pan to a large bow; set aside. Reserve pan with juices.

When beans are cooked, remove from heat. With a slotted spoon, lift out cheese-cloth bag and bones and set aside to cool. Pull any meat off bones and put scraps in a bowl with baked meats; discard skin and bones. Chop carrots and add to meats. Partially cover meat bowl with a lid and tip bowl to drain accumulated juices into roasting pan holding reserved meat juices.

Set a colander into the roasting pan. Pour beans into colander, draining liquid into meat juices. Pour beans into a bowl. Cover and chill meat and beans separately.

Also cover and chill liquid in roasting pan until fat hardens, at least 8 hours or until next day. (to speed process, you can skim liquid fat from broth and proceed, but you will not get rid of as much fat.)

Lift hardened fat from roasting pan and discard. Place pan over high heat; when liquid is melted, measure. You need 4 cups. If you have more, boil and stir until reduced to 4 cups; if you have less, add water. Save liquid.

In the roasting pan or a same-size casserole, arrange half the beans in an even layer. Top with meats (except sausages), then top with remaining beans, then reduced juices. Nestle sausages into beans; if made ahead, cover and chill up until next day. Sprinkle with bread crumbs. Bake, uncovered, in a 350 [degrees] oven until mixture is hot in center and crumbs are brown, 1 to 1-1/2 hours. Serves 20 to 24.

Per serving: 504 cal.; 31 g protein; 29 g carbo.; 29 g fat; 84 mg chol.; 442 mg sodium.

Bread crumbs. Mix 1-1/2 cups unseasoned fine dry bread crumbs with 1/3 cup minced parsley and 1 clove minced garlic.

Orange Slaw with Balsamic Vinegar

About 3 pounds Savoy cabbage, rinsed and finely shredded 4 medium-size oranges 1/2 cup each balsamic vinegar and olive oil 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed Salt and pepper

Place cabbage in a large bowl. With a knife, cut peel off oranges. Hold 1 orange at a time over bow, and cut fruit segments from membrane into bowl. Squeeze juice from membrane into bowl; discard membrane.

Mix together vinegar, oil, and garlic. If made ahead, cover and chill salad and dressing separately up to 4 hours. Mix dressing with salad and add salt and pepper to taste. Makes about 6 quarts, 20 to 24 servings.

Per servings: 68 cal.; 1.3 g protein; 6.6 g carbo.; 4.6 g fat; 0 mg chol.; 16 mg sodium.
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Title Annotation:recipes
Date:Nov 1, 1989
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