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Roundabout San Diego

with Beverley and Alex

Shortcut Pork Cassoulet
It's Christmas Eve and we all spent the day preparing for tomorrow's dinner. Before Janet and Klaus arrived I had made a 'To-do-list' for everyone. We had to run to the store for last minute items but generally it was a relaxing day at home chopping, slicing, and dicing for various recipes for our big Christmas Day dinner. We also had last minute presents to wrap and I had an early huge surprise. Around 4pm this afternoon Alex sent me to my room saying he had something he had to do but didn't want me to see. I was all excited thinking he and his Dad were putting together a bicycle for me which I had been asking for for a while.

It turns out that Alex had repaired some of the brick work in our fireplace and had a chimney sweep come in and fix our chimney for us and he surprised me with a roaring fire in the grate. We have lived in this house for over 4 years and one of the reasons we wanted it was because it had a working fireplace. Now at last it is really is working. Well, it actually smoked the house out a bit but we soon got over that after the windows were opened. We had to rearrange the fire a bit to make sure the smoke went up the chimney and not into the living room.

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Anyway, with the warm glow of the fire, the tree with all it's lights in the front bay window it is definitely beginning to look like Christmas. We sat around drinking the eggnog that Janet had made using an old family recipe, and admired the flames for a while before I started putting dinner on the table.

Tonight's dinner was cooked 2 days ago before Janet and Klaus arrived. Just under half is already in the freezer for some future meal for us. Meantime, the cassoulet had sat for a couple of days and the flavor improved considerably. This is a perfect dinner for a cold winter's night. It's unfortunate that San Diego doesn't get many cold nights and tonight was no exception - especially with the fire going. Anyway, it was Christmas, it was winter, and we imagined the cold. I did make a couple of changes to the recipe - I took half of the pork and substituted with boneless, skinless, chicken thighs cut into chunks. I also omitted the directions in the last paragraph. I served this meal with a salad and a baguette for sopping up the sauce and it was fabulous.

Shortcut Pork Cassoulet

Ingredients

1 pound dried Great Northern beans
5 bacon slices, coarsely chopped
1 3 1/2-pound boneless pork shoulder, trimmed of excess fat, cut into 1- to 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 pound kielbasa, cut into 3/4-inch-thick slices
2 1/2 cups chopped onions
1 cup sliced celery
1 cup sliced peeled carrots
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon dried thyme
2 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
1 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups coarse fresh breadcrumbs made from French bread
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
Chopped fresh parsley

Preparation

Place beans in large saucepan. Add enough cold water to cover by 3 inches. Bring to boil. Remove from heat. Cover and soak beans 1 hour. Drain.
Return beans to pan. Add enough cold water to cover beans by 3 inches. Bring to boil. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat until beans are almost tender, about 30 minutes. Drain.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 300°F. Cook bacon in heavy large ovenproof pot over medium heat until crisp, about 8 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to large bowl. Discard all but 2 tablespoons drippings from pot. Increase heat to medium-high. Working in batches, cook pork shoulder and kielbasa in pot until brown, about 8 minutes per batch. Using slotted spoon, transfer pork and kielbasa to bowl with bacon.

Add onions, celery and carrots to pot. Sauté until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and thyme; sauté 1 minute. Mix in broth, tomatoes with juices and tomato paste; bring to boil. Stir in meats from bowl, then drained beans. Return to boil. Cover pot. Transfer to oven; bake until pork is tender, about 1 hour. Maintain oven temperature.

Using slotted spoon, transfer 1 cup beans and vegetables from pot to processor and purée. Return purée to pot. Stir in wine. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Refrigerate uncovered until cool, then cover and refrigerate. Bring cassoulet to simmer before continuing.)

Smooth top of cassoulet. Mix breadcrumbs, Parmesan and oil in bowl. Sprinkle half of crumb mixture over cassoulet. Arrange bell pepper atop crumb mixture. Sprinkle with remaining crumb mixture. Bake cassoulet uncovered until pork and beans are very tender and topping is golden and crisp, about 45 minutes.
Garnish cassoulet with parsley.

Serving size 8 - 10.
Posted by Beverley on Sun Dec 24, 2006
Categories: Recipes

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