Southwest France proclaims itself as the family home of cassoulet, even if the towns bicker over who thought of it first like relatives at Christmas.
Toulouse, Carcassonne and Castelnaudray. Each want the credit for this hearty dish, only agreeing on one thing: that the recipe sprang from fighting off the English.
(For years rosbif monarchs ruled Bordeaux; King John even established St Émilion’s wine trade)
Before kissing their husbands goodbye, wives delved deep into their larders and threw every good thing they had into one single pot.
Toulouse Sausage, confit of duck, white beans, goose fat, pork slices. Occasionally lamb, of course wine.
It’s a shame, according to the legend, that cassoulet takes so long to cook. Most traditional recipes quote between 12 and 14 hours. You rather imagine that the impatient English army would have reheated their pot noodle and attacked by then.
Today, you can easily buy cassoulet pre-prepared in glass jars. Don’t be put off by the beige view of squashed animal parts and stewing beans – it still tastes delicious and reheats easily on the stove. Be warned though, consuming cassoulet can fill you with an overwhelming urge to – well, fall asleep on the sofa rather than dash off and fight anyone.
Top Photo courtesy of Jonathan Caves.