Cassoulet Which Is The Classic Bean Dish In A French Country Food

You must know that there's no dish more famous, loved, or debated than cassoulet in France's Southwest. With the ultimate combination of salt pork with beans, it's considered one of the true classic dishes of French countryside cooking. Even today, people argue about what makes a real cassoulet. When most people visit France, they might come back with photos or maybe a fancy pot. Some might even sneak back cheese or sausages in their bags. What do I wanna explore here? Well, recipes. A friend told me this after I gave him my own cassoulet recipe.

Watch This Video To Get The Recipe

It is a special dish from my family that I just have to make every year, usually in the winter when it's really cold and I need something cozy. It's a big, warm food. According to Julia Child, it is simple food for everyday people but like a fancy treat for food lovers, perfect for someone who's been working hard in the cold.

People think Cassoulet might have started with the Moors, but no one's really sure. It's named after the "cassole," which is a type of pot where it's traditionally cooked. There's a huge debate about which components we should use in a true cassoulet, just like there is with bouillabaisse. Some people might get upset because I use kidney beans which come in the white color. But even if traditionalists don't like it, you should make it in a way that works for you.

A Verse to Cassoulet

I'm sitting silently at my dad's old dinner table, looking closely at its well-worn surface. I think about all the family stories hidden in the marks and scratches on it. Imagine the stories it could tell if it could talk.

In the middle of the table sits an old clay pot that's a bit cracked, on a metal stand. It's bubbling away with duck confit, lamb ribs, cannellini beans, and pork shoulder, all topped with a crispy layer of breadcrumbs soaked in preserved duck fat. This pot feels like it brings people together, much like the film ‘Red Violin’.

I keep thinking about how many times it's been used for cooking, especially since it had been made back then 80 years ago in Toulouse by potters. I’m really hungry. But it's more than just hunger. There's a deep emptiness as I have to wait for my family to come and eat. Breaking the crusty top, steam filled with the aroma of salt pork billows up. I hope somehow the smell reaches my dad, wherever he is now. Feeling this happy fills me with pure joy.

3 Acts of Cassoulet

You can find everything you need for a pleasing cassoulet at most supermarkets. Some people believe you need special tarbais beans. However, white color kidney beans are the best for me. They refer to three classic cassoulets originating from Carcassone, Toulouse, and Castelnaudary. The one from Castelnaudary is the simplest. The remaining beans, ham, pork and sausages can be used in the preparation. My recipe is less tedious but extraordinary, like the French cassoulets.

Making cassoulet involves three main steps: 

  1. Cooking the beans

  2. Making a lamb stew

  3. Preparing the confit

Each step requires some prep but there’s a lot of downtime for slow cooking in between, so it’s best to start a day ahead. This definitive dish benefits from not rushing it.

Remember, cooking cassoulet is easy but takes patience. Think of it like a fun cooking adventure.


This is a classic French peasant dish consisting of mixed meat and beans.

Cooking the Beans

  • 1 pound dried white beans

  • 1 whole onion that has been peeled and studded with six whole cloves

  • 2 strips bacon (or a 6-ounce piece of pork belly meat)

  • 2 carrots peeled

  • 2 ribs celery

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1 sprig of fresh thyme

  • Chilled water

Lamb Stew

  • 2 ounces of animal fat (choose from goose, duck, pork) Salt, pepper and Herbes de Provence (my favorite herb blend)

  • 1. 5 lb lamb shoulder - trimmed of excess fat, diced into 2" pieces

  • 1. 5 lb country style pork ribs or pork shoulder - trimmed of excess fat, cut into 2" chunks

  • 2 sweet onions - finely diced

  • 3 garlic cloves - roughly mashed

  • 1 lb ripe tomatoes - chopped

  • 1 cup plain white wine

  • 1-quart broth (chicken, duck, pork, or goose)

Confit and Sausages

  • Cook four duck legs in the style of duck confit (click here if you need a recipe or buy them ready-made)

  • One lb. fresh pork sausages and/or One lb. kielbasa, see notes

  • Four oz. breadcrumbs or panko

  • For cooking the beans - First, soak beans overnight with plenty of chilled water in a large bowl covering them entirely.

  • Next, drain soaked beans then put them into a large pot with whole onion; bacon; carrots; celery tops tied together, and herbs. Add water until it rises above by about two inches when the pan is full. Boil rapidly over high heat.

  • Now lower the heat to low, cover, and let them simmer until beans become tender (usually, it takes one to two hours).

  • In a large bowl, place the fine mesh strainer over it.

  • Drain them off into the strainer lined with cheesecloth or a clean kitchen towel (save liquid).

More Guide

Lamb stew can easily be made if you follow these steps, first process the meat well with salt, freshly ground black pepper, and some herbs. Then, add some fat in a big pot and heat them until it's really hot. Cook it by stirring occasionally in turns until they're nicely browned all over, which should take around ten minutes for each side. Put the cooked meat aside.

Next, add garlic sausage and chopped onions and cook them well and you will see that they have been soft. It will usually take around 5 minutes. Then, add tomatoes and again cook it for another 5 minutes. Put the meat back in the pot. Now, add white wine broth and leave everything to boil. Lower the heat now and cover the pot. Let it steam for two hours now. Next, remove the lamb meat and set it aside. Make sure to save the cooking liquid in the pot.

Preheat the oven to 400°F!

In a similar baking dish, half fill it with beans. Place pork, lamb, duck, and sausage on top, and then cover with remaining beans. Pour over saved cooking liquid so that it just covers them. If, at any stage during cooking in a Dutch oven, the beans begin to look dry, add more of this liquid. Scatter half the breadcrumbs over the beans and bake for 2 hours. Afterward, sprinkle the rest of the breadcrumbs on top and continue baking for over 20 minutes or until bubbly and brown.

Serve it right from the cooking pot, making sure everyone gets a bit of taste in everything.

Important Note:

For the best beans for making cassoulet - look for a small California company which is named "Rancho Gordo". But the probability is that you can't find their beans in your local store. In this way, you can buy your beans directly from the company online if you want to get quality.

If you're using uncooked pork sausages, simply put them into the beans that are softly boiling for the final ten minutes of their cooking period; this will precook them a bit.