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Introduction & method

There are three main variations on cassoulet - the one from Toulouse uses mutton, the Castelnaudary one includes confit duck legs and pork, the Carcassonne one has poultry such as goose and partridges. This recipe is based on the middle one but with chicken instead of duck. It's a proper winter warmer and you can make it in a slow cooker.

Cassoulet Recipe

Notes on Ingredients

I'm using chicken because at the time of writing, duck legs were hard to find. For the beans, pretty much any white bean will do (except butter beans). It really is best to use dried beans for this because they will absorb flavour. Canned beans would probably disintegrate in the long cooking time. Toulouse sausage is the preferred option, but uncured, unsmoked garlicky sausage is a good substitute. It's best if you use home-made chicken stock that wobbles like a jelly when cold - if you haven't got that, use stock cubes and add a sachet or two of gelatine.


Soak the beans overnight in salted water. Chop the carrot, celery and one of the onions into large chunks. Finely dice the other onion. Cut the pork belly into bite-sized chunks.

Cook the Beans

Drain the beans and place them in a large pot or pressure cooker. Pour in the chicken stock and add the coarsely chopped vegetables and bay leaves. Add extra water if needed to bring the level above the beans. Bring to the boil. If using a normal pot, simmer with a lid on for one hour. If using a pressure cooker, bring it up to pressure and cook for 20 minutes.

Cook the Meat

While the beans are cooking, heat the duck fat In a heavy-bottomed pot until smoking, then add the pork belly pieces, fat side down. Cook them for 5 minutes then turn them over and keep cooking until all sides are well-browned. Remove the pork. If your chicken legs are in one piece, cut them into drumsticks and thighs and season with ground black pepper. Put them in the pan and cook them until they are browned all over. Remove from pan. Add the sausages and chopped onion and cook for 5-10 minutes until browned. Turn off the heat.

Cook the Cassoulet

When the beans are ready, use tongs to fish out the veggies and bay leaves. Now we need to combine all of the ingredients in a casserole-type vessel to finish cooking. Or you could use a slow cooker/crockpot to save energy. Scrape the onions, duck fat and burnt crunchy bits into this vessel. Pour the beans over, mix in the belly pork chunks and arrange the sausages and chicken pieces on top. Season the stock with salt and pepper if required. If the liquid level doesn't cover everything, add more water. Now this all needs to cook very gently, uncovered, in a low oven (about 150° C / 302° F) for about 4 hours.

About the Crust

As it slowly cooks and water evaporates, a crust should form on the top. To make this develop, you should make a small opening at the side of the crust and pour in more water or stock to keep the level topped up. Purists reckon you need to do this 7 times to get a worthy crust. Non-purists will probably get bored and sprinkle breadcrumbs on top. And you might struggle with a slow cooker because the surface area for evaporation is small compared to the depth.

The video above is from the Keef Cooks YouTube channel. Click here to see the video recipe of Cassoulet on YouTube.


Ingredients & Info

 250 grams cannellini or haricot beans
 2 chicken legs
 4 Toulouse sausages
 300 grams sliced pork belly
 1 litre chicken stock
 1 sachet powdered gelatine (optional)
 2 medium onions
 1 carrot
 1 stick celery
 half a head of garlic
 2 bay leaves
  salt and ground black pepper
 2 tbsp breadcrumbs (optional)


Duck fat for sautéeing.

US Customary/Imperial

Serves 4 -6
Prep time: 20 minutes.
Bean soaking time: 8 hours.
Cooking time: 6 hours.
Total time: 14 hours 20 minutes.