The most famous dish from Gascony is without doubt is cassoulet given its name from the dish that it is cooked & served in, Cassol d’Issel an earthenware pot from the town of Issel near Castlenaudary.
Everywhere you go in this region of France seems to have its own variance on the recipe for Cassoulet, originally from the town of Castelnaudary in the Languedoc Roussillon. Castlnaudary holds a Cassoulet fete in august every year where people are inducted into “Le Grand Confrerie du Cassoulet de Castlenaudary ” the brotherhood of Castlenaudary’s cassoulet.
The origins of the dish date back to 1355 originally called “estofat” was served to defenders of the town during a siege in this year. However there is still a lot debate in France about wether the Cassoulet comes from Carcassonne, Toulouse or Castlenaudary & each of these places has it’s own version of this dish with different ingredients & wether it should be topped with chapeleur ( breadcrumbs ). I favour the Castlenaudry cassoulet not topped with chapeleur.
Cassoulet de Caslenaudary
500g Haricot blanc dried
4 x 80g Toulouse Sausage
300g Pork belly skin removed
2 Confit duck legs
4 Cloves of garlic
3 litres Chicken or pork stock
1 tblsp Tomato paste
2 tblsp Duck fat
The night before soak the haricot blanc in cold water.
The next day degrease the confit duck in a large frying pan & remove, reserve for later, add the duck fat to the pan & brown the sausages then place in a cassole, cut the pork belly into for equal pieces, brown in the duck fat, add tomato paste & add all to the cassole, squash garlic cloves & place in cassole with haricot blanc, pour over the stock & mix up.
Cook in an oven preheated to 130 c for 2 hours, place the confit duck legs on top skin side up & cook for a further 30 minutes.
The cassoulet should have a nice crust on top, serve with crusty bread.