It's a little funny that I started this blog or even a Soup Club to begin with, considering a good 80% of my cooking is more oven friendly than stovetop friendly. And if we're being really specific, it's actually very toaster oven friendly (maybe one day I'll write a post about how I cook almost everything in our toaster oven, and how I'd probably never cook if we didn't own one). Generally speaking, I find stovetop cooking to require copious amounts of labor, and if there's one thing I don't like, guys, it's labor. Jokes aside, I always worked in kitchens where there was typically plenty of oven space, but you had to fight the hard fight to have access to even one burner on the stove. This taught me to utilize and sharpen my oven-cooking skills and to also learn some really great tricks and hacks along the way. Bet you didn't know that you can cook the most perfect and fluffy rice if you don't own a rice cooker by just baking it in your oven, did you? That, too, is a post for another time.
And so all this brings me to The Cassoulet. Simply put, a cassoulet is a stew that starts off on the stove, but spends most of its cooking time in the oven. It's a genius meal if you're having guests over to eat because you don't have to spend the first half of their visit slaving away in the kitchen. It's traditionally a rustic dish, so taking it straight from your oven to table to serve in its pot is highly encouraged. Just add a crusty loaf of bread, and you'll have a feast that is sure to impress and satisfy just about anyone.
Cassoulets are definitely one of those dishes that you can "make your own". I always use sausage in mine because my family never seems to tire of sausage, and it's just about the easiest meat to prepare (see above regarding labor). As for legume and veg, I'll add whatever I happen to have stocked. If you kept the measurements relatively the same, you could easily switch out the ingredients in this recipe and have it turn out just as delightful.
Sausage + Chickpea Cassoulet
4 sweet italian sausages
3-4 slices of thick-cut bacon, chopped into about 1/2 in. pieces
1 c. sliced trumpet mushrooms
1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, sliced
2 large cloves of garlic, sliced
1-1 1/2 c. of chickpeas, cooked and rinsed
3/4 c. of tomato sauce
splash of white wine
handful of chopped parsley
salt + pepper
Real quick. I was thinking of writing a post about my absolute favorite soup pot, but I din't have much to say besides the fact that it's my absolute favorite. I will add, however, that for a cassoulet, the right pot makes all the difference in the world. I know All-Clad isn't exactly the most affordable in the cookware world, but there are few things more invaluable in any kitchen than a quality sturdy stockpot that is oven safe. If shelling out 100 bucks for one pot seems unreasonable to you, and I fully understand if it does, lots of companies like Williams-Sonoma and Sur La Table make great stockpots under their own label for a fraction of the price.
Preheat your oven to 325º. Brown your sausages in some olive oil on on all sides and set aside. In the same pot, start to cook your bacon. Before fully browned, add your mushrooms, onion, and bell pepper, and sauté for a couple minutes on medium heat. Add your garlic and sauté for about another minute. Throw in the chickpeas, browned sausages, wine, and tomato sauce, and pour in enough chicken stock to almost cover all of your ingredients. Season the cassoulet and sprinkle your chopped parsley on top. Bring to a simmer, cover your pot, and then stick it in your oven to slow cook for an hour. It will be HOT when you pull it out of the oven, so let it rest for a good 10-15 minuted before serving.