We’ve talked in the past about how each culture has its own version of stews and the basic similarities – and differences – between them based on their cultures and the areas in which they lived. This, of course, affected what foodstuff were available to them.

Other ‘casseroles’ as we refer to them, are the same. My paternal grandmother made something we called “a dish”. It was very similar to the ‘cholent’ that was made by many Eastern European – especially Jewish – women made every week. Her ‘dish’ had potatoes in it while the cholent usually did not. It had beans, chicken, onion, some garlic and carrots. And it was Wonderful! Yes, Wonderful with a capital W! My mother never made it – so it was one of those special things I had at Grandma Bossel’s that I couldn’t get anywhere else! And no, I’ve never tried to duplicate it. Maybe someday, if my Aunt Pauline (of Pauline’s Marinated Salmon fame) will help!

Anyway, I digress, as usual! One of the most famous ‘casseroles’ of all was one of the French peasant and it was called Cassoulet and it too had chicken and onion and garlic and beans and of course (being French), various herbs. It was made in a special pot which was more narrow at the bottom, had sloping sides (as in the photo) to a wide top.

The recipe I am giving you for a hearty Cassoulet is an easy one and is perfect for a cold winter meal – or a windy evening one.

Bon Appetit! Or as my Grandmother would say: Ess Ess (eat…eat!)

Hearty Cassoulet

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • 1/2 lb. smoked turkey sausage, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 3 cans Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained (15 oz. each)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 4 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme leaves
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

In a Dutch oven heat oil over medium high heat. Add onion and cook about 5 minutes until onion softens. Add in chicken, sausage and garlic and stir; let cook about another 5 minutes or until both chicken and sausage have browned, stirring occasionally.

Stir in beans, water, tomato paste, thyme and black pepper. Be sure everything is mixed well. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 15 minutes or until mixture is bubbly.

Serves 6


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