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JULIA CHILD: Baked beans!
But these are not Boston baked beans.
These are beans with a French accent.
This is cassoulet.
We're doing it today on The French Chef.
♪ ♪ Welcome to The French Chef.
I'm Julia Child.
Today we are doing one of the most famous French bean recipes, cassoulet.
It's a whole dinner in one great big casserole with beans and meat, and it's, I think, probably one of the most famous dishes that... that the French have in the bean realm, and I think you'll enjoy doing it.
It has quite a lot of things that go into it.
The main ingredient, of course, is the beans, so we'll get right to them.
And in the French recipe, they use a rather large white bean like this.
This one's about half an inch long, and these are imported Italian cannellinis, which I bought at my supermarket in the Italian section, but you can use any kind of dry white beans you like.
Here is the pea bean, or white navy.
You see that's quite a bit smaller.
And then here is the Boston... the Boston baked bean type of bean, which is called the small California white, and any of these come in boxes now, and they all have the name of what type of a bean they are.
So you can use a large one or a small one.
It doesn't make any difference, but the important thing is that you get beans that are not too old, because if they've been around in your cupboard for a year or two, you can't cook them so that they will soften up at all.
And in the old days, of course, you had to soak beans overnight before you cooked them, but now, thanks to the United States Department of Agriculture, they've worked out a method of quick soaking, which works out extremely well.
You take your beans, and you drop them in a large kettle of rapidly boiling water, and you use... For one cup of beans, you use four cups of water.
And this is a two-pound package here, and there are about five cups of beans, so you would have five quarts of water.
Bring it up to the rapid boil, put the beans in, and then boil it for exactly two minutes, and then let them sit in the water for exactly one hour, and then you're ready to cook them.
And this is a very good system.
I'll go over it again.
You drop your beans into rapidly-boiling water, let it boil for two minutes, then let them soak for one hour, and you're ready to cook them.
And I'll show you why it's necessary to soak them, because they swell.
Now these... See, this is the...
These two beans are just the same, but the soaked ones you see are much bigger, and the unsoaked ones are smaller.
And one cup of beans will soak up to be about two and a half cups.
And now these beans have been already soaked for an hour, and we're now ready to go.
So I'm going to get rid of these beans, and then we'll start the flavoring of them when they're ready to cook.
And now, when you boil your beans, you always want to put some kind of delicious flavoring in them, and I'm going to do exactly what you would do in the French recipe.
And you always would have a big piece of bacon, and this is fresh, unsmoked bacon, and it usually is called "pork belly."
And if you can't find it in your grocery store, you can ask them to order it, but you don't have to have the fresh belly.
You can use a piece of salted pork belly or lean salt pork, and it also has the rind on it here.
I've got the rind here that I've taken off of this bacon.
But when you're... And you have to... Also want to have the rind because that acts very much like gelatin, and when it cooks with the beans, it sort of thickens up the bean juice and gives it a lovely sort of body to it.
But before you use the rind, whether it's a salt rind or a fresh one, you have to blanch it to freshen it up and soften it.
And so, you take your rind, and you drop it into a quart of cold water, bring it up to the boil and let it boil for one minute, then you drain it out, and you do the same thing again.
In other words, you blanch it twice.
And you see this is the raw, unblanched rind, and it's sort of really like leather.
But after you've blanched it, it softens up like this.
You can see that's really quite soft and nice.
And you can either... Then, you can drop it into your bean pot.
Just roll it up and tie a string around it and drop it into the bean pot, or else you can do what some of the French people do, which is rather fun.
You take some big shears, and you just cut.
Cut it into a strip.
I blanched this... yesterday, and I think I probably should have left it in cold water, because if you've just blanched it, it's much easier to cut than this.
Then you cut it into strips, and then cut the strips into little dice like that.
Then you would drop that into a... a pan of water, and then you'd simmer it for about 30 minutes, and that will soften it up even more, like this, and then you'd add this and the water right into your bean pot.
I think pork rind is used a lot more in Europe than it is here, but it's a very essential flavoring and consistency-maker in Europe.
And then your bacon.
If you're using salt pork, you'd blanch that along with your pork rind to get a little bit of the extra salt out of it.
And if you're using fresh pork belly, you would just drop it into the pot as is.
And if you don't want to use bacon, or you can't find the fresh one, you could use also a fresh pork butt.
That is sort of a combination of fat and lean that you get up in the shoulder, and that is also extremely good to use with it.
You get flavor by using, uh... by using some of these pork products, and also, a little fat along with the beans gives them a much lovelier consistency, but you can leave out the pork or the bacon if you want, if you're, say, on a fat-free diet.
But do use the pork rind because that's very important.
And then we want salt to go in.
I thought you'd like to see this kosher salt which is sort of a granulated rock salt, and this they use an awful lot in France.
It is a... they call it "sel gris," or "gray salt," and what's nice about using it is that you can just pick it up in your fingers.
When you can get used to seeing how much...
There's one tablespoon.
Get used to seeing how much one tablespoon is in your hand, and then you don't have to measure all the time.
So there's one tablespoon, and that also goes into the pot along with our beans.
And if you're using salt pork, you would use... You wouldn't salt till the beans had cooked for a little while, and the salt had come out of the pork.
And then we're going to have onions in, and I thought I'd show you a quick way to slice onions, because I think the quicker you can do these ordinary things, the more pleasant cooking becomes.
Now there's a peeled onion, and you cut it in half at the stem end like that so that all your little onion leaves are running up and down this way.
And then you put the cut half down on a board, and you cut off about two or three slices on each end that way.
Then you just slice right down.
You see the reason that we cut off those two little pits at the end is so that the onion slices just come apart very easily.
So they all go into the pot.
We're going to have...
I have here two pounds of beans, which is five cups.
And I have five quarts of water, and these two pounds of beans are going to swell up when they cook to... Gosh, I can't remember.
I think that's 14 cups.
That's five cups is going to swell to 14, so that...
They swell about three times.
So I have about a cup and a half of onions in there.
And then we have to have an herb bouquet.
We've made so many of these, I won't have to make it again.
I've got in here six parsley sprigs, and two bay leaves, and three or four cloves of garlic, and a half a teaspoon of thyme.
And you always wrap it up in something so that you can easily remove all of the herbs without, uh... without having them float around.
The one thing I've forgotten to say, ever, is that there's a great difference in bay leaves.
Now this bay leaf is the American or domestic one, and you see that's a great big bay leaf with a fairly serrated edge, and it has quite a strong and pungent taste.
And if you find that you don't like the taste of bay leaves, it may be that you've always been using domestic ones, and the taste is too strong for you.
But you can get imported bay leaf.
See how you can see the difference.
The imported one is usually quite a bit smaller, and it doesn't have the serrated edge, and its taste is much more subtle.
And you can... All of the big spice houses put out imported bay leaves, and you just ask your grocery store to get them for you, and I think you'll find that the flavor is much nicer, and it's also more French.
So now we have...
In with our beans, we have our pork rind, we have our bacon, we have our onions, and then this is to come up to the simmer, and then simmer very slowly for about an hour and a half.
And no matter what size of bean you take, if it's a reasonably fresh bean that hasn't sat around for a long time, and if you buy them in the grocery store and then use them within two or three months, they'll always be fresh enough.
It shouldn't take more than an hour and a half of a very slow simmering.
And you simmer them uncovered, and when it finally comes up to the simmer, you'll find that there's a little bit of scum, and you just skim that off.
And you don't cover it at all.
But as you're simmering, you may find that the beans have swelled, and you don't have enough water, so you'll add a little bit more water so that the beans are always covered.
And also, keep them in their water until you're ready to use them.
And you can cook the beans, heavens, a day or two ahead as long as you just leave them in their water, and cook...
This way, you can use them for... just as a vegetable, or let them cool off, and you... And here they are cooked.
And these are awfully good just drained and used as a salad.
You can mix... you can mix chopped raw onion in them, and... and then a French dressing, and they make an extremely good salad with green peppers and tomatoes.
So I think that's one of the good things about this cassoulet recipe, because we're not only learning how to do the French baked beans, but how to do beans in general, because they're one of our... one of our very good vegetables.
They're filled with proteins and vitamins.
And two pounds only cost about 45 cents.
And now, we're going to go into the... what else goes into the cassoulet.
And cassoulet is one of those French recipes that there's so much argument about it, that if you want to get into a real fight with a Frenchman, you give him your version of a cassoulet, and if he doesn't agree with you, you can fight all night about it, because the cassoulet originated in Toulouse or in Castelnaudary.
Nobody is quite sure exactly where it did originate, and the people in Toulouse always say that it must have preserved goose in it, or it's not a real cassoulet.
And the people in Castelnaudary, which is not very far from Toulouse, all say that... Well, not all of them, because they don't agree, either.
Some of them say that it has only pork and lamb in it, and other ones say that it has to have goose in it, also.
But the important thing is that when you get all of your cassoulet assembled that it have a delicious flavor.
And what we're going to use is braised lamb, along with pork and sausages.
And... you'll see it makes a very full and complete dinner.
Or the main thing is that... and reason that I like to use the braised lamb is that, by braising it, you have some perfectly delicious juices.
And so, this is a shoulder of lamb, and it's been boned and cut into about two-inch pieces.
And be sure that when you get your lamb that you ask your butcher to take all of the extra fat off of it, and there's often some little fat in between the layers, and be sure that it's all taken off.
And then we're gonna brown the lamb first.
We've done so much browning that I'm just gonna do a token for you.
You can brown it in cooking oil or in goose fat, if you happen to have any.
And as always with browning any kind of meat or chicken, remember that you dry your meat off.
You get your fat or oil very hot.
And then you don't... and you don't crowd your pan.
So if you've done those three things, you'll have no trouble in browning your meat.
And then along with your lamb, you want to be sure to ask your butcher to give you the bones from the lamb also, because they're gonna go into the braise, and they make the sauce even more delicious.
And these bones, you can either brown in a frying pan-- I just stuck these in a 450-degree oven and shook this pie plate around every, oh, seven or eight minutes, and they browned in about 20 minutes.
And then we're gonna have, also, some more onions.
And in here, we have some browned onions.
I have two cups of browned onions in here.
You don't have to use as many pots as I have.
I wanted... to show you how everything went.
The onions go...
I mean, the bones go right in with the browned onions.
And then for the browning of the lamb, you just keep turning it.
You see, that's browning nicely.
I'm using one of these no-stick pans, so make sure that you always use a wooden spoon, 'cause you don't want metal to touch it, or you may take off some of the... some of the covering.
Now, when your lamb is nicely browned, and if you're doing a lot of it, you'd have to do it in five or...
I mean, in two or three groups.
You just add your lamb to your... to your onions, and you pour out the fat.
Then if I weren't using a no-stick pan, there'd be some nice brown coagulated juices.
And say that you're not using a no-stick pan and you have some brown juices, you'd then pour in some stock or wine and scrape it up, again, with a wooden spoon.
You always use wooden for scraping this kind of thing in any kind of a pan just 'cause it scrapes better.
And pour that into your... lamb and your bones.
And we're gonna add to this, 'cause I want quite a bit of juices.
I'm gonna put in two cups of dry white wine, or dry white vermouth, it doesn't make any difference.
That makes just about half a bottle.
That really makes quite a bit.
But we want to have delicious sauce, and of course most of it all boils off.
And then we want a third of a cup of tomato paste.
That's just ordinary Italian-type tomato paste.
And then we want, also, some more bay leaves.
And I have one French one and one American one.
That's hands across the sea.
So I have one of each.
And then we want, also, some beef stock, or any kind of good brown stock, or canned beef bouillon you can use.
And this is four cups.
So we want quite a lot of... of stock, 'cause we're gonna need it for flavoring our beans at the end.
And then we need some more salt.
I'm gonna use some more of this kosher salt, see, just with my hands.
Then that's to come up to the simmer, and then it's just simmer very quietly for an hour and a half.
And I use-- I'm making quite a large recipe, because you might as well if you're gonna make a cassoulet.
So I have-- with my five cups of beans, I have about two and a half pounds of boned lamb.
So we're gonna have plenty.
And then when that comes up to the simmer, you cover it and just let it cook slowly until it is-- for an hour and a half.
And you can cook that either in the oven or you can cook it on the stove.
It doesn't make any difference as long as it cooks slowly.
And I have some here that I cooked last night.
And one thing about this recipe that I like very much is that you can cook everything way ahead of time.
So, I cooked this last night and then I let it cool and then I put it in the refrigerator.
And then this morning, all the fat had congealed on the top, so it was very easy to skim the fat off.
And I also took the bones out, too.
So now it is all ready to use, and the meat is cooked.
And then be sure that you taste the sauce very carefully, 'cause it should be perfectly flavored and just enough salt and everything else in it.
Then... Heavens, I forgot to add the rest of that lamb which I'd already browned, so I'm gonna put it in here.
When I was saying I was doing you a token, I'd forgotten that I didn't add it all.
And now we've got the lamb done and we're ready to assemble our casserole.
Where's my casserole?
I guess I must have put it under here.
Well, I'll get all of these things assembled, and then we'll find it.
Now, along with our lamb, we're gonna have roast pork.
And this is a boned loin of pork which has been tied and roasted and then it was cut into half-inch slices.
You don't have to use pork if you don't want.
You could use braised turkey, or you could cut up some goose in serving pieces and brown that and cook it about two-thirds and then use that.
And then we also-- Now, here is the bacon that we had cooked in our beans, and that's all been cooked.
And I've also sliced that into about quarter-inch pieces.
And then I have some sausage cakes, and you can either use bought sausage cakes or you can use a piece of-- or you can use that long Polish sausage and cook it for half an hour with your beans and then slice it.
And these are homemade sausage cakes.
And they're very easy to do and awfully nice.
You take two cups of lean pork and one-half to two-third cups of pork fat, and then you season it with salt and pepper and a little pinch of allspice and probably some ground bay leaf and other herbs, and you can even beat in three or four tablespoons of cognac.
And it makes a lovely homemade sausage and very much like the French ones.
And now... Oh, I was looking all over for that.
And there is our casserole.
And then we have our cooked beans.
Now, you see, with all of these things, these could all be cooked ahead.
I did these all last night.
You could do them-- I mean, not all last night.
I did all of them last night.
But you could do them ahead of time, if you wanted to.
Though it seems like a lot of things that are going in, the fact is that you can do it very leisurely.
So, here's our casserole, and we put a layer of beans in the bottom.
Then we put in some of the lamb.
Then we put in a few sausage cakes.
I could do that with a spoon, too.
We want to end up with sausage cakes, so I don't want to use them all now.
Then we put in a little bit of our bacon.
You see, the bacon, by cooking for an hour and a half with the beans, has rendered most of its fat.
And so what you really have is a consistency.
And this is our pork.
And then we just continue with another layer of beans.
And if you have each one of these elements deliciously flavored, the whole, when it then cooks together, it's just awfully good eating.
As you can see, it's not a reducing meal.
There was more lamb.
Now I'll put in some more bacon.
And then I'm gonna end this with some sausage cakes.
Now, this casserole is rather typical of the French type that they use just in a glazed earthenware casserole.
And some people say that the name "cassoulet" came from old French, "cassole," instead of "casserole," and then a town near Castelnaudary called Iselle.
I don't know how you get "cassoulet" out of "cassole l'Iselle," but some people say you do.
And then we end with sausage cakes.
I've got a lot more here than we're-- that's gonna fill this casserole.
You can make it in two or three casseroles if you're having a big party.
Well, I might as well put all of the sausages on here, 'cause they're so good, being homemade.
Then we just pour the... pour these lamb braising juices over it.
I've got a cover here.
Now, you can see why I added so much juice to the braising of the lamb, because we want all these lovely tasting and smelling juices in with our beans.
And then we have bread crumbs.
And these bread crumbs are mixed with parsley.
It's about half and half.
You want to have a fairly generous layer on top, because they're gonna cook down in with the beans.
Then they'll also thicken the juices a little bit.
And... And if you find, while your casserole is cooking, that your juices have thickened up a little bit too much, then you can always add some of your bean cooking juices.
Now, that goes into about a 400-degree oven until it comes up to the simmer, and then you turn the oven down to 350 and let it cook for about an hour.
Now, if you were using one of these cast-iron casseroles here that I had the lamb in, you'd bring it to the simmer on top of a stove, and then you... (clears throat) and then it wouldn't need to cook for more than about 40 minutes.
And you'll notice here, we have this crust which has formed on the top with the bread crumbs.
Now, when that's in the oven and in about 15 or 20 minutes after it's begun bubbling, you take the back of your spoon and just break the crust down into the beans.
Then in about ten or 15 minutes more, it will form again and then you break that down again into the beans.
Some people say that you can break it down seven times, and that's what you need to make a great cassoulet.
But I think three or four times is plenty, and then you always leave the crust on for serving.
So we're now gonna serve it and see how it looks.
You can use any size of casserole that you want.
This one is a high one.
I thought you'd enjoy seeing how they both look.
Now I'm gonna serve it.
And this, of course, is a very hearty dish, and you don't need much else with it.
But you should have a very mild first course, such as oysters or a clear soup or a jellied soup, and then just a salad along with it.
Now, there we have our-- we have our various meats and our beans, and I think, with it, a salad like chicory with a garlic dressing.
And go very light on the vinegar or lemon juice, 'cause you don't want to spoil the taste of your wine.
And as a wine, there is-- as in the recipe for cassoulet-- all kinds of arguments on whether it should be white or red or rosé.
So you can serve anything you'd like.
I'm serving sort of a dry, fairly strong rosé with this, which will go extremely well.
And as you...
This is not a quick recipe to do.
We've managed to do it in 25 minutes.
But as you can see, it'll take a little bit more time than that, but all the work you put into it is very well worthwhile.
So that is all for today on The French Chef.
This is Julia Child.
Captioned by Media Access Group at WGBH access.wgbh.org ♪ ♪