This recipe was born of heavy snowfall and a refusal to leave the house for any reason, grocery shopping included. Even though this is nowhere near a traditional cassoulet, I was happy enough with the results to make it the same way again. Flageolet beans are easily found at Rancho Gordo, but feel free to substitute the more readily available Great Northern beans. —Minimally Invasive
bacon slices, chopped
lamb shoulder, cubed
beef shin bone, or 3-4 large soup bones
salt & pepper
medium onions, diced
large carrot, diced
celery stalks, diced
fennel bulb, chopped
large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
Herbsaint, Pastis, or other anise-flavored alcohol
Rinse beans and pick through them, making sure to remove any small stones that may be mixed in. Place them in a large bowl cover with lots of water and soak overnight.
The next day, preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Drain beans in colander and set aside.
Season the lamb shoulder and shin bone/soup bones well with salt and pepper. Heat a 5 1/2- or 6-quart heavy pot over medium heat. [Enameled cast iron is perfect for this.] Add chopped bacon and cook until much of the fat has rendered. Remove bacon from pot with slotted spoon and add a little oil to the pot if the bottom looks a little dry.
Brown lamb and shin bone in batches, making sure not to crowd the pan. Set browned meat aside on a plate. Add onion, carrot, celery and fennel bulb to the pot, stirring until vegetables begin to soften, then mix in garlic and anchovy paste, cooking until fragrant. Deglaze with Herbsaint and cook until there’s no more liquid in the bottom of the pot. Add beans, tomatoes and herbs, stirring to distribute, then add stock or water to cover by about 3 inches.
Bring liquid to a boil, then cover pot with a layer foil before covering tightly with lid. Place in oven and braise for 7-8 hours, checking level of liquid every 3 hours or so to make sure things aren’t getting too dry in there. When beans are creamy and have absorbed much of the liquid, they’re done. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed.
You can continue from there, but this is even better if you cool it to room temperature and set it in the fridge overnight. When you’re ready to serve, toss breadcrumbs with a little olive oil to moisten, spread over cassoulet (I do this in small portions instead of to the whole pot at once), and bake in a 350 degree oven until browned and crunchy.