Succulent Spring Feast
The French have a way of making even the most bourgeois meal sound glamorous—take cassoulet for instance. A rich casserole named for the earthenware dish in which it’s cooked—cassole—it typically includes white beans and meat. Slow-cooking is essential, as allowing the liquid to boil can cause the beans to burst and lose their skins.
This version from Grand Circle Cruise Line executive chef Christian Seegatz uses spring lamb as a centerpiece, making it particularly timely for Easter at the end of this month. Though this dish has peasant origins, today you’ll find it in everywhere from grocery stores to the chicest of French restaurants—and you may just try it aboard the M/V Arethusa on our Rivieras: France, Italy & the Isles Small Ship Cruise Tour.
Sail with us in the Rivieras and you may try one of the local specialties, lamb cassoulet.
1 1/2 lbs. boneless lamb
2 slices bacon, diced
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 sprigs parsley, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 c. white beans (uncooked, cannellini or great northern)
4 oz. tomatoes, diced
1 tsp. thyme
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. tomato paste
1 c. white wine
1 1/2 cup broth (beef or chicken) or water
1/4 tsp. cracked pepper
Salt, to taste
1 baguette, sliced
1/4 c. butter (opt. with chopped rosemary)
- Soak the white beans in enough water to cover them overnight in a pot with a lid. Keep the liquid to use in case the cassoulet gets dry during the cooking process.
- Cut the lamb into 1-inch cubes, and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- In an oven-safe large pan, sauté the bacon until it renders fat to cook with, then add the lamb, turning the meat to brown it on all sides. Add the carrots, garlic, and onion and sauté until the onions are translucent, then add the beans, diced tomatoes, thyme, bay leaf, tomato paste, salt, and pepper. Stir the mixture, then fill your pot with white wine and broth, scraping the pan to loosen brown bits. Bring to a boil, then remove from stovetop.
- Transfer to the oven and cook, covered, for one hour at 350 degrees, and then uncovered for another hour. During the final minutes of cooking time, slice the baguette and brush slices with butter (adding rosemary if desired for an herb butter), then toast in the oven alongside the cassoulet for 8 minutes.
- Before serving, sprinkle chopped parsley on top of the cassoulet. Serve with baguette slices.