I made a new cassoulet this past weekend. The recipe came via email from Williams-Sonoma, a not so veiled attempt to push a new slow cooker. The dish sounded tasty. We were having friends over. I had to try it.
First of all, as this recipe calls for 12 cups of cooked beans, this slow cooker, besides being expensive, must double as a foot bath for an entire football team. Who, but those lucky enough to have a pan for finishing their maple syrup inside, has a vessel big enough to hold 12 cups of cooked beans in addition to other ingredients? I cooked one bags worth -- just about 8 cups and called it done.
Since we aren't lucky enough to belong to a collective in which we share chickens, pigs, root vegetables and honey, I had to get my pork (on sale) at the market. I think it was the sale that truly pushed me into trying this dish. It was a nice enough shoulder for $1.79 a pound and I did use the full 4 pounds; despite cutting it tight on the beans. And for the chorizo, I hate to say it, but I forgot to pick some up... so I tossed in a few Italian sausage... Does this make me a bad person?
Moving on, I skipped the bacon grease step, using olive oil instead -- with a pat or two of butter. And when I reached for the wine I had to settle for a Merlot, as we were out of white.
Then of course, I adapted the cooking instructions for using a conventional stove rather than an olympic pool-sized slow cooker. Really, where would you store something that big? This might be something a kin to that old adage: If you can afford the Jaguar then you don't have to worry about paying for its repairs. Likewise: If you can afford this slow cooker then you have the house with the space to store this constant temperature bath that doubles for a slow cooker.
When it was all done, minus the sea salt garnish, I realized this is just a fancy Pork and Beans. Could this be a recipe takeoff from the traditional dusty cowboy concoction? I wondered. It was good; very good. And it was better the next day. Last night, despite being on a diet I found myself returning for seconds...
With eight cups of beans, we will be enjoying this dish for a few nights.