The slow cooker makes this Weeknight Cassoulet with Sausage, Bacon, Beans and White Wine delicious and easy. Affiliate links have been used to link to items I am discussing.
I know it is not exactly the time of year to be excited about stick to your ribs food, but frankly I could eat slow cooker bean dishes pretty much any time of year. And now that the sun is back (happiness!) I am back to running behind with dishes. In other words this is from all the way back when I had that week from hell and was cooking like crazy for the teachers! Heck you can–and should–pin it for next fall if you are pickier than I am about when to eat hearty slow cooker dishes.
I served this dish to the teachers without mushrooms, because I was afraid that maybe they were an ingredient that too many might not like (even if I think those people are crazy). But for us I added mushrooms–and people, if you like mushrooms, do not leave them out. They are outstanding in this dish, whether they are traditional or not.
This Weeknight Cassoulet started with a dish in Quick Slow Cooking (Williams-Sonoma), by Kim Laidlaw, which I picked up in Costco recently. What a find! We loved this dish, and we also loved a New Orleans style Red Beans and Sausage dish that I made from it (and also served to the teachers–my slow cooker got a workout that week!). The premise behind the book, which has a somewhat confusing title, is that they have streamlined the prep part of cooking in the slow cooker. I don’t know if I necessarily found that to be true–and to be fair, I turned this into a dried bean recipe because I vastly prefer the flavor–but I have found it to be a treasure trove of ideas for the slow cooker, many internationally inspired. In this specific recipe, I thought the flavor from the Dijon mustard with coriander and cloves was especially genius. It is definitely not the prettiest dish, but mushrooms plus white beans pretty much equals grey, unfortunately. But such a yummy grey! I have no idea what a French housewife would think of my parsley and mushrooms, but I make no claim that this is a traditional cassoulet.
- 1 lb dried white beans
- 1 med-large onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 T extra virgin olive oil
- 1 lb sliced bacon
- 1 lb cooked smoked sausage, cut into rounds, like kielbasa; I used a smoked chicken sausage
- 1 med-large onion, chopped
- 4-6 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 smaller or 1 large carrot, diced
- 16-20 oz sliced crimini mushrooms
- 1/4 cup AP flour
- 2 heaping T Dijon mustard
- 1 cup white wine of choice, plus more for deglazing, I used a vinho verde
- 2 T dark brown sugar
- 1/2 t ground coriander
- 1/4 t ground cloves
- salt and black pepper to taste
- 1-2 T white balsamic vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
- chopped parsley for garnish
Soak the dried beans overnight.
The next morning, bring the beans with the onion and garlic to a boil on the stovetop (if your slow cooker insert is cooktop safe, use that). Once they have boiled for 5 minutes, transfer either the cooktop safe pot to the slow cooker base or pour them into your slow cooker insert. Add the olive oil and enough water (if needed) to cover by 2 inches. Cook for 3-6 hours on low or 2-4 hours on high (how long they will take depends on the age of the beans), until mostly tender.
Near the end of the beans' cooking time, begin the cassoulet: cook the bacon in a large, heavy skillet until crispy. Move it around so that it does not burn. Remove the bacon and drain on paper towels before crumbling and setting aside.
Pour off all but a few tablespoons of the bacon grease (reserve that grease). Now add the sausage and brown it in the skillet. Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon and set aside. Once again pour off excess grease if you need to (I did not), leaving about 2 tablespoons of fat.
Add the onions to the pan with a pinch of salt. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and carrot and cook until the onions are starting to brown a little, about another 5-10 minutes.
Add the mushrooms with a pinch of salt and stir to incorporate. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until the mushrooms have begun to release their water.
If at any point you need to deglaze the pan because the vegetables are sticking, do so with a splash of wine.
Stir together the flour and mustard, and then whisk that into the pan. Add a little more bacon grease if the pan is too dry for the flour. Stir constantly and cook for 1 minute, until the flour is completely incorporated. Stir in the sugar, coriander and cloves, along with a few grinds of black pepper and another pinch of salt.
Slowly pour in the wine, while stirring to incorporate--it should blend in nicely with the flour, much like in a roux, and should not be lumpy. When it is nicely blended, turn up the heat to bring to a boil. Let the wine briskly simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated.
Taste the beans--if they are mostly cooked, add a teaspoon of salt, and then scrape the cooked mirepoix (onion, carrot, garlic) mixture into the beans. Be sure to get all the delicious flavor from the bottom of the pan--use a splash of wine if needed. Stir the sausage into the slow cooker insert as well. Also stir in 2/3 of the bacon--reserve the rest for crumbling on top as a garnish.
Cook on low for an additional 3 hours, or high for 90 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon of the vinegar and taste for more vinegar or additional salt or pepper. Serve in bowls with crumbled bacon and chopped parsley on top. Bread to mop up the sauce is also welcomed.