Well friends, I’m starting off the year with a post that does not check anything off of my 2015 to-do’s (see here, here and here) – but the stomach wants what the stomach wants. I first had a cassoulet when my great friends Justin & Jim had us over for dinner recently. I was hooked immediately. Great flavors, one pot, and perfect to warm you up on a cold winter day. This also seems like the perfect dish to make in my french cottage, which currently only exists in my mind, but I’ll get there someday and you’re all invited.
4-6 chicken legs
1 tbs extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
freshly ground pepper
1/2 lb sweet Italian sausage (I chose to use Kielbasa instead)
1 finely chopped onion
1 medium fennel bulb—halved, cored and cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 carrots, chopped
4 minced garlic cloves
2 tsp minced rosemary
2 tsp minced thyme
2 tsp ground fennel
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
One 15-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
3 tbs butter
1/2 cup panko
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
First up, preheat the oven to 450°. Then on a rimmed baking sheet, brush the chicken legs with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until browned and cooked through. Be sure to leave the oven on.
In a large, deep dutch oven, heat one tbs of olive oil and add the sausage to cook over moderately high heat. Add the onion, fennel and carrot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, rosemary, thyme and ground fennel and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Stir in the stock and beans and bring to a boil.
Nestle the chicken legs in the stew and add the 3 tbs of butter to the pot (just toss it in there – really, don’t skip this step). Next, sprinkle the cheese and panko evenly on top. Bake the cassoulet in the upper third of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until bubbling and the topping is crisp. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving. I got this recipe from Curtis Stone, but tweaked a couple of things here and there. Make a big ole’ pot of this and impress your friends!