Ramblings About Wine & Food From the Heart of Decatur, GA
October 19, 2009
Thomas Keller's Cassoulet & 2001 Vieux Donjon Chateauneuf-du-Pape
Cassoulet is a peasant dish that origniated in the south of France. You can think of Cassoulet as a fancy way of describing pork-n-beans. Traditionally, Cassoulet is made with various combinations of duck confit, goose, pork sausage, pork, pork skin, bacon, garlic, onions, and lotsa white beans. The key to Cassoulet is cooking it long and low over the course of an afternoon (or two). There are numerous recipes for Cassoulet, some more complicated than others. It's not uncommon for Cassoulet to be a two or three day process (see Julia's or Bourdain's Les Halles' Cassoulet if you really want to spend three days on your Cassoulet).
I like Thomas Keller's "easy" Cassoulet recipe. You start by rendering lardons, then browning pork shoulder in the fat. Remove the pork, sautee onions in the renderings and then deglaze with white wine. Once the wine is reduced by half add white beans (canned work here), chicken stock, a head of garlic, and some crushed tomatoes. Return the pork shoulder to the pot, and let it go for about 8 hours at 200 degrees. After 8 hours or so, you'll have a pot of gooey goodness with pork that just falls apart and creamy beans. Stir in some toasted panko and parsley, a little parmesan, top with baguette slices and it's the best damn thing you could eat on a cold Sunday night.
One of my favorite wines with Cassoulet is Chateauneuf-du-Pape. I also love CdP in the fall, it's like a warm blanket, it makes me think of home and cold nights by a raging fire.
2001 Vieux Donjon Chateauneuf du Pape
The wine, from a .375, showed a soaring nose of iodine, pine, abd wet leaves. Palate features red fuit, spice, white pepper, and garrigue. Tightens slightly with air. Still formidable tannins on the backside. Shows like a youngster still, but a delight, and so bloody good with the Cassoulet. Yum.