About Me

I have been cooking my way through life for over 50 years, beginning with mud pies as a child. I've turned a corner now and feel a Renaissance in my life. Recipes and Random Thoughts is my personal spin in a blog about how to prepare good food and how it prepares you for life. I want to share with you, honest to goodness food punctuated with perspective from the special memories and moments that have marked my journey.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Chicken Cassoulet

The picture of Sara Moulton standing next to Julia Child surprised me.  Julia was a tall woman and Sara, quite short, in fact, Sara doesn't even come up to Julia's shoulder.  In spite of their difference in height, the two worked shoulder to shoulder and are regarded in the culinary world equally tall, really tall. They worked together on many culinary media projects.  Sara worked as a behind the scenes staffer for one of Julia Child's TV programs which later helped propel her to a her own highly successful series of programs.

I caught an old episode of Sara reminiscing about her days of working with Julia Child while she whipped up this shorter version of a cassoulet.  I've shied away from the dish because it's suppose to take days of simmering to achieve the layers of flavor. Just too much time for even a slow cook like me but this shorter version is a pleasing, hearty meal on any weeknight.  A classic staple dish in southwestern France, it's a nice addition to my "spring chicken" repertoire.  Serve with green beans, a simple salad and crusty bread.

2 tbls olive oil
8 bone-in chicken thighs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 medium onion
1 tbls fresh rosemary leaves
1 tbls fresh thyme
4 garlic cloves
15 oz. can cannelini beans
1/2 lb. kielbasa
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock
2 tbls Dijon mustard
1 cup panko bread crumbs

Heat 1 tbls olive oil over medium high heat in a large skillet. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and brown chicken, skin side down, for 3-4 mins. Turn and cook 2-3 mins.  Remove chicken and drain all but 1 tbls fat.  Reduce heat to medium.

In the mean time, drain and rinse the beans, then mash half of them. This will give a creamy texture to the dish.

Add finely chopped onion (1 cup) and cook until soft. Add finely chopped rosemary and thyme ( 1 1/2 half teaspoons each) and minced garlic, cook  1-2 mins.  Add the wine and deglaze the pan. 

Return the chicken to the pan with accumulated juices.  Add the chicken stock, beans, kielbasa, Dijon mustard and mix  Bring to a simmer, cover and cook 15 minutes.

Mix the panko bread crumbs with the remaining olive oil.  Heat the broiler to high.  Adjust the seasoning, sprinkle with the bread crumbs and run 4 inches under the broiler.  Watch carefully, it's less than a minute!
When lightly browned remove immediately.  Don't forget the handle is hot!

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