French Bean Cassoulet with Potato Polenta

French Bean Cassoulet

Traditionally a meat and bean dish, the heartiness of this dish means you don’t really miss the meat.

Serves 6

Cassoulet
2 med leeks (white and pale green parts only), halved and cut into half moons (subst: diced fennel which adds another flavour dimension)
2 med carrots, halved lengthwise and cut into 1” pieces
3 celery ribs, cut into 1” pieces
4 garlic cloves, chopped
¼ c. olive oil
4 thyme sprigs
2 parsley sprigs
2 tsp savoury (fresh if you can find it, dried if you can’t)
1 bay leaf
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp all spice
2 c. cooked flageolet beans (subst: navy or canellini beans)
1 can organic diced tomatoes
1 Tbls soy sauce
½ c. white wine
1 Lt veg stock
Salt and pepper to taste

Garlic crumbs
2 cups coarse fresh bread crumbs from a baguette or organic sourdough*
¼ c. olive oil
1 Tbls garlic, chopped
¼
c. chopped parsley

Potato Polenta
500g floury potatoes
150ml milk (subs: soy milk)/stock or half half
125g fine polenta
30g butter (subs: non hydrogenated margarine)
375ml water
salt and pepper

  1. Make the cassoulet: Heat oven to 180°C.
  2. In a sturdy earthenware pot (with well fitting lid), saute leeks, carrots, celery, and garlic in oil with herbs, bay leaf, cloves, allspice and 1 tsp salt and pepper to taste over medium heat. Stir occasionally, until softened, about 15 minutes.
  3. Stir in beans, stock, tomatoes, wine and soy sauce.
  4. Bring to a simmer and cook partially covered for 10 mins stirring occasionally.
  5. Discard herb sprigs and bay leaf and transfer beans to a cast iron pot. Fit lid and bake for 1 hr.
  6. Meanwhile make garlic crumbs: Toss bread crumbs with oil, garlic, parsley and ¼ teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a bowl until well coated
  7. Make the potato polenta: Boil the potatoes until soft. Once cooked, strain, reserving 1 c. of cooking liquid (set aside). Put the stock/milk on to heat till just under boiling.
  8. Meanwhile mash the potatoes – I push them through a fine mesh sieve with the back of a spoon to get a nice fluffy consistency, or you could use a stick blender. Add hot stock/milk, salt and pepper.
  9. Meanwhile bring water and remaining potato water to the boil and slowly add polenta stirring constantly. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring frequently.
  10. Once cooked add the butter and fold through and blend the polenta with the potatoes
  11. Remove lid from cassoulet and sprinkle with ½ crumb mixture and bake at 200°C for 15 mins until golden.
  12. Remove and break crust and stir into cassoulet. Top with remaining crumb mixture and return to oven and bake a further 15 mins until second crust has formed.
  13. Serve piping hot straight from the oven

French Bean Cassoulet with Potato Polenta

* To make breadcrumbs: put stale bread in food processor and process until desired consistency (may take a minute or so). Place in oven at 100°C for 10 minutes to dry out. Adjust time to more or less – you don’t want them to retain any moisture or brown.

Adapted from Gourmet.com

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