Posted by Katerina - October 23, 2004 03:46 PM

I saw this on TV today. The instructions look long, but from what they did, it didn't look all that difficult. Apparently "real" Cassoulet takes days to make. It left my mouth watering though! I hope to try this sometime.

Simplified Cassoulet with Pork & Kielbasa

Serves 8

This dish can be made without brining the chicken, but we recommend that you do so. To ensure the most time-efficient preparation of the cassoulet, while the chicken is brining and the beans are simmering, prepare the remaining ingredients. If you can't find a boneless blade-end pork loin roast, a boneless Boston butt makes a fine substitute. Additional salt is not necessary because the brined chicken adds a good deal of it. If you skip the brining step, add salt to taste before serving.

Chicken
cup salt
1 cup sugar
10 bone-in skinless chicken thighs (about 3 pounds), excess fat removed

Beans
1 pound dried flageolet or great Northern beans, picked over and rinsed
1 medium onion, peeled and left whole
1 medium head garlic, outer papery skin removed and top inch sliced off
1 teaspoon salt
teaspoon ground black pepper

6 ounces (6 slices) bacon, chopped medium
1 pound boneless blade-end pork loin roast, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 small onion, chopped fine
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 large sprig fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
teaspoon ground cloves
Ground black pepper
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cups dry white wine
pound kielbasa, halved lengthwise and cut into -inch slices

Croutons
6 slices good-quality white sandwich bread, cut into -inch dice (about 3 cups)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1. For the chicken: In a gallon-size zipper-lock plastic bag, dissolve the salt and sugar in 1 quart cold water. Add the chicken, pressing out as much air as possible; seal and refrigerate until fully seasoned, about 1 hour. Remove the chicken from the brine, rinse thoroughly under cold water, and pat dry with paper towels. Refrigerate until ready to use.

2. For the beans: Bring the beans, whole onion, garlic head, salt, pepper, and 8 cups water to a boil in a stockpot or Dutch oven over high heat. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer until the beans are almost fully tender, 1 to 1 hours. Drain the beans and discard the onion and garlic.

3. While the beans are cooking, fry the bacon in a Dutch oven over medium heat until just beginning to crisp and most of the fat has rendered, 5 to 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, add half of the bacon to the pot with the beans; transfer the remaining bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside. Increase the heat to medium-high; when the bacon fat is shimmering, add half of the chicken thighs, fleshy-side down; cook until lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes.

Using tongs, turn the chicken pieces and cook until lightly browned on the second side, 3 to 4 minutes longer. Transfer the chicken to a large plate; repeat with the remaining thighs and set aside. Drain off all but 2 tablespoons fat from the pot. Return the pot to medium heat; add the pork pieces and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the minced garlic, tomatoes, tomato paste, thyme, bay leaf, cloves, and pepper to taste; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the chicken broth and wine, scraping the browned bits off the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon.

Submerge the chicken in the pot, adding any accumulated juices. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer about 40 minutes. Remove the cover and continue to simmer until the chicken and pork are fully tender, 20 to 30 minutes more. Using tongs and a slotted spoon, remove and discard the chicken skin.

4. For the croutons: While the chicken is simmering, adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Mix the bread crumbs and butter in a small baking dish. Bake, tossing occasionally, until light golden brown and crisp, 8 to 12 minutes. Cool to room temperature; set aside.

5. Gently stir the kielbasa, drained beans, and reserved bacon into the pot with the chicken and pork; remove and discard the thyme and bay leaf and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the croutons evenly over the surface and bake, uncovered, until the flavors have melded and the croutons are deep golden brown, about 15 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes, and serve.