“French” Baked Beans

We got a bunch of Toulouse sausage from M.F. Dulock as part of our reward for supporting their Indigogo campaign. Now are sausages processed? Sure, but Dulock is a traditional tail-to-snout butcher. You can see the animal the cuts come from, and I trust the sausage as much as if I had bought the meat and made it myself.

A traditional dish to make with Toulouse sausage is cassoulet. Cassoulet uses fava beans, about fifteen different types of meat (pork, sausage, lamb, goose, and what have you), and takes something like three days to cook.

Not in this house. I have a job to go to.

So I took a couple of cassoulet recipes (Julia Child’s from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1 and the one from The Professional Chef), pared them down to the basic essentials, and made what I like to call “French Baked Beans.” Sort of a cassoulet-ette.

And I’m sorry for the lack of photography. I don’t know what I was thinking.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. dry Great Northern or Navy Beans
  • 2 qt. chicken stock
  • 1/4 lb. bacon, diced
  • 2 large Toulouse (or other garlic) sausages
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 large tomato, seeded and juiced
  • bouquet of thyme and parsley
  • breadcrumbs
  • parsley
  • salt

I actually used cannellini beans, but they cooked pretty fast. I think the Great Northern or Navy beans should hold up a lot better over the full cooking time.

I left the skin on the tomato, but most civilized people would probably peel it.

Procedure

  1. Cover the dry beans with chicken stock, bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 30 minutes.
  2. Render the bacon. Reserve bacon grease in the pan.
  3. Add cooked bacon to the beans and cook an additional 30 minutes.
  4. Add whole sausages to the beans and cook an additional 30 minutes.
  5. Saute the onions, garlic, and tomato in the same pan as the bacon until the onions are translucent and the tomato has cooked down.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  7. Add onion, garlic, tomato and bouquet to the beans and cook an additional 30-40 minutes or until the beans are done.
  8. Remove the sausages, cut off the casings, and chop the meat inside into 1-inch pieces.
  9. Add everything to an appropriately sized casserole dish. Top with a mixture of breadcrumbs and chopped parsley.
  10. Bake for 1 hour. Periodically, break the crust with the back of a spoon, pushing it into the beans.

I meant to add celery with the onions, garlic, and tomato, but forgot. That would probably be pretty nice.

The 30 minutes between additions to the beans makes this pretty easy to pull off over a couple of relaxing hours in the kitchen. It yielded us about three days of dinners, which was awesome. I’d certainly make this again.