|Each cassole is made by hand.|
I already owned one that holds cassoulet for six, and another that feeds four. What I wanted was an even larger dish, and I left with one large enough for ten servings. There it's stayed in the cupboard above the stove until a couple of weeks ago when I promised to inaugurate it at a lunch for four friends visiting from the US.
|That's a standard size colander which gives you some idea of the size of the cassole.|
We set the date and time. Saturday at 1 p.m. Lunch because cassoulet is a very heavy dish to eat at night.
Thursday, I took the 500 gram hunk of couenne out of the fridge. Pork skin with a thick layer of fat. Feeling like Hannibal Lecter, I cut this into strips, rolled and tied them neatly, and simmered them until they were pliable. I simmered a fresh pork hock in another pot until I could stick a fork in it, then skinned and boned it.
|Le bouquet garni et le head of garlic.|
|Pork and vegetables.|
A couple more hours in the oven. By now it was 2 p.m. and we were just getting into our first course, a light salad of greens, chopped green onion, cubed apple and hazelnuts.
|Bubbling away in the oven. The cassole and contents were almost too heavy for the wire rack which fell off its moorings seconds after I'd taken the cassoulet out of the oven.|
The cassoulet was spendiferous if I do say so myself (and everyone else said so too). The best one I've made so far. Next time, I wouldn't change a thing, except to invite a couple more people over and add in two more duck legs. As it is, there's a cassoulet "base" of beautifully seasoned beans waiting in the freezer to use as the foundation for a winter soup--or another batch of cassoulet.
You want to know what else we had? Cheeses, grapes and figs, and then a small attack on a box of Ladurée macarons that someone had brought us from Paris. And a great deal of big red wines.
|Lovely Ladurée macarons. Two dozen, each one different and a little sheet of paper to tell you which was which. We ticked them off as we ate them.|