Monday, October 15, 2012

On My Hearth: Crockery Cassoulet

This past weekend we were "home" in Pembroke Pines, such a joy to spend time with Kristyn, Jesus, and, of course, my critters! It's also a pleasure to cook in the kitchen here as it's completely equipped with all of the gadgets I've collected over the years.  But the best part about being home? Having someone other than myself and Chip to cook for! I really miss the days when all of my family was under one roof, sitting around the dinner table each night.

Since Sunday is Kristyn and Jesus' only day off from the shop, they catch up on errands, chores, socializing..with a little bit of rest thrown in! I decided to prepare a meal in the slow cooker so they could eat whenever their schedule allowed, so I cracked open my shiny new cookbook, Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker by Robin Robertson.  While I was browsing through the book searching for the perfect recipe, I threw together a little lunch for myself and Kristyn, just some eggplant cutlets I found in the freezer, browned in sauce and served atop penne pasta.

We had most of the ingredients on hand for this Crockery Cassoulet and I thought that along with some nice French bread, it would be the perfect dinner for a rainy Sunday.  Instead of relying on store bought, I dusted off my old bread machine and baked my own! Let me tell you, the scents wafting from my kitchen were amazing!

gathering ingredients..

Crockery Cassoulet

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, minced
2 large carrots, thinly sliced
5 garlic cloves, minced
1-1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 (15-ounce) cans Great Northern or Cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
1/2-cup vegetable broth
1/3 cup white wine
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
2 bay leaves
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup panko or dry bread crumbs
2 purchased vegan sausage links (I used Tofurky vegan kielbasa links), sliced
1/2 to 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish

For the best flavor, heat 1 teaspoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute until softened, about 5 minutes, adding a sprinkling of water, if needed, to keep it from burning.  Add the carrots, garlic, and tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes longer.  

Transfer the onion mixture to the slow cooker.  Add the beans, tomatoes, broth, wine, thyme, marjoram, and bay leaves.  Season to taste with salt and pepper, cover, and cook on Low for 6 to 8 hours. 

While the cassoulet is cooking, lightly toast the panko in a small dry skillet until lightly browned.  Set aside. 

Heat the remaining 1 teaspoon oil in a medium-size skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the sausage and cook until browned on both sides. 

When the cassoulet is ready to serve, remove and discard the bay leaves, and stir in the sausage and liquid smoke.  Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed.  Top with the reserved bread crumbs and the parsley.  Serve hot. 

The verdict: This was a very tasty dish, enjoyed the combination of flavors. The liquid smoke is a must, don't skip this ingredient! Next time I will probably saute the carrots a bit longer as, even after 8 hours of cooking they were a bit crispy.  This could've been the fault of my old slowcooker, though, will try it again with my new model.

Today we say goodbye to South Florida, head back north to Jacksonville for a few days. My new cookbook is coming with me so stay tuned for some more slow cooker recipes!

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