A CULTURE OF SUSTAINABLE FOOD IN THE SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA
January 1, 2015
Blessed to be a little island floating merrily in the Mediterranean Sea, Corsica reaps all the benefits of its French birthright and its fortuitous proximity to Italy and Spain. Its cuisine bears testament to its enviable geographical location; it is an amalgam of ingredients and styles of French, Italian, and Spanish cooking—undoubtedly three of the finest cuisines in the world.
Our recipe unites the indelible influences of Corsica’s neighboring countries. A classic rustic southern French “cassoulet” is composed of large white beans from Spain and an Italian-style sauce with pork sausages and salami. It’s a hearty, savory dish that is satisfying to its core. It makes for a perfect après-ski, a rustic dinner for two, or an easy dinner party main course, as all the work can be done ahead of time. It can be made up to three days in advance and benefits from at least overnight storage. Serve with green salad, fresh bread and a cheese board, if you’d like.
About the Ingredients
Sausage & Salami
Depending on what kind of fresh sausage and dry salami is used, the cassoulet has boundless different flavor combinations. There are so many fantastic fresh and cured sausage producers out there now raising heritage pigs that are pasture-raised without hormones or antibiotics. We recommend experimenting with natural rustic pork sausages, such as those from Prather Ranch, available for mail order on their website. Belcampo sells a variety of bulk sausages and chorizo on their website, as well. Cured salami, such as the fennel or peppered from Boccalone, are available for online mail order, as are a small selection of fresh sausages. Olli salami is available on their website, but can be widely found at Whole Foods, Amazon, and specialty markets. You can really use any high quality combination of fresh, cured, or smoked sausages without going wrong.
We use giant Spanish butter beans called “Judion” beans, though Gigante or Corona beans also work. Judion beans are very large when cooked, with a mild and creamy flavor similar to cannellini beans. Dry Judion beans can be ordered online from The Spanish Table.
1 pound or 500 gram bag of judion beans
32 ounces chicken broth
32 ounces vegetable broth
2 bay leaves
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, diced
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
¼ cup tomato paste
24 ounces fresh rustic pork sausages, sliced into ½-inch rounds
15-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
1 salami or dried chorizo (~4.5 ounces), diced
3 medium carrots, diced
Soak the beans for 20-24 hours in advance of cooking.
In a large pot, bring both broths and beans to a boil and then immediately reduce to a simmer. Add the bay leaves.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan. Over medium-low heat, cook the onions and garlic in the frying pan, stirring often, until they are soft, 6-8 minutes. Add the tomato paste to the onions and cook for 2 more minutes.
In cast iron pan or dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the fresh sausage rounds to the pan and brown the pieces evenly, tossing occasionally.
While sausages are browning, strain the whole peeled tomatoes, reserving the juice, and cut the tomatoes roughly into large chunks. Add the cut tomatoes and the tomato juice to the pot with the beans. Add the diced salami, diced carrots, the sautéed onion mixture, and the browned sausages to the beans. Stir gently once just to combine. Simmer all the ingredients together, without stirring, just until the beans are tender. Adjust seasoning if necessary (though usually the ingredients have contributed enough salt that no added salt will be needed). If you are planning on reheating, just barely undercook the beans so they will not be overcooked when reheated.
Tempting as it may be to stir the beans at various stages, the less they are disturbed, the better. Beans tend to break apart or loose their outer skin if they are over-stirred.