coco73 (coco73) wrote in vegancooking,

Vegan Cassoulet

A French cassoulet is a lovely, smokey bean stew traditionally made with pork, but I have found a beautiful vegan recipe.

I should start by saying that the original recipe I found on flickr was so poorly written that it bordered on gibberish. It had little in the way of measurements, so I have improvised here with the proportions. I recommend going with your gut.

This recipe looks more complicated and time consuming than it actually is. True, it does take three days of preparation, but the tasks in those three days are quick and simple, and I promise you that the rewards are worth the effort. This is a nice cold weather dish and makes lovely leftovers for the next day's lunch, too.

This is quite a big recipe, but it makes enough to freeze several meals worth. It made the large casserole dish in the picture, PLUS four 750 gram yogurt containers full. Just ladle it into meal-sized containers before the baking step.

3 or so cups of dried white beans (a regular sized mixing bowl full)
2 or 3 red, yellow or orange peppers
6-10 sun dried tomatoes
2 small onions, or one large
15 ounce can of chopped tomatoes
2-3 cups of vegetable broth or stock
1 cup of dry white wine, or vermouth
4-5 cloves of garlic
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar (Golden if you have it, but regular is fine too)
Bay Leaves
1 package of smoked tempeh
Liquid smoke (optional)
Vegan sausages (optional)

A large oven proof soup pot,or a pot and a casserole dish.

Day 1
Soak about white beans in enough cold water to cover them, plus a couple of inches.
Roast peppers until skin is charred.
Once peppers have roasted, place them in a covered bowl to sweat.
After sufficiently sweating, for an hour or so, carefully slide/peel off the skin. DO NOT rinse the peppers in water. Only use your fingers or a paper towel to remove charred skin.
Once skin has been removed as well as you can, chop the peppers into a small/medium dice. Into the bowl the peppers sweated in, place the sundried tomatoes (depending on your taste) and cover with the roasted, chopped peppers. Squeeze skins and tops of the peppers into the bowl or jar so that the tomatoes may soak up a bit of the smoky flavour.
To this mixture, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a healthy pinch of rosemary. Cover this concoction and let sit over night.

Day 2

Drain beans then add fresh water, to a few inches over beans. Add a few bay leaves a splash of oil to control foaming over.
NEVER ADD SALT, as beans will not cook and soften properly with salt.
Bring to a boil and turn down heat.
Slowly simmer until almost tender, but not soft. Beans should have a bit of bite left to them. It’s important not to overcook them, as they will go through 2 more stages of cooking.
It’s recommended at this stage that you drain the beans, but save the cooking liquid. It’s not a bad idea, but not entirely necessary. If you forget/don’t have room for the liquid in your fridge, you can always blend a bit of the beans in a food processor to get the same effect.

While beans are cooking, sautée smoked tempeh in a bit of olive oil.

Remove from pan when browned and set aside.

In the same pan add olive oil and a chopped onion and slowly sautée until soft and translucent
Add a few minced cloves of garlic some rosemary and thyme and a bay leaf and parsley

Add 1 cup dry (not sweet) white wine or some dry vermouth and allow it to cook down until almost evaporated.
Add a good splash of GOLDEN balsamic vinegar (regular is fine)
Cook down until it’s almost like syrup

Add the tempeh back to pan and coat with this mixture.
Slowly add one cup of broth, and allow it cook down a bit.

Add one 15 oz can of diced tomatoes and stir.

At this point, add the roasted pepper/sundried tomato, olive oil mixture that was sitting over night. Make sure to chop the sundried tomatoes.

Taste the mixture now and see what needs to be adjusted. A traditional cassoulet will have a nice smoky flavour, while being tangy and zesty. If the smoke flavour isn’t quite there, add a couple of drops of liquid smoke, but do so carefully. We’re not looking for a BBQ flavour.

When you’re happy with the taste, mix the cooked beans into this concoction, then add two more cups of broth to deglaze the pan. Taste again and make necessary adjustments with seasonings.
Gently mix it all together and simmer 10-15 minutes to meld flavors.

Take the pot off the heat and once cooled a bit, but the pot into your fridge to let the soup sit over night.

In a medium sized bowl, mix together about 1 cup of breadcrumbs and a tablespoon or so of olive oil. You can add the chopped parsley if using, and place the bowl in the fridge to sit over night , as well.

Day 3
The Crust
Traditionally, a French Cassoulet has quite a thick crust of breadcrumbs, made my breaking the previous crust, then basting with the sauce inside, covering with more breadcrumbs and repeating this step 7 times. It’s a bit much.

A crust isn’t essential to this dish, but it is very nice and makes it a bit more authentic. Sometimes I make this recipe with dumplings instead of a breadcrumb crust and it’s just as nice, but very filling.

If you decide you want to use one of these methods, please keep in mind that they will absorb a shocking amount of the sauce, so make sure that the dish is very liquid-y before you put the topping on.

This is where some people get anxious about the dish and where the reserved bean liquid comes in.
The cassoulet should look like a thin, soup when it goes into the oven. It will seem like there is too much liquid and that you will just end up with soup and not the beautiful, thick stew intended. Don’t worry – the crust or dumplings will absorb the excess liquid and the dish will be gorgeous.

And so…if it seems like your cassoulet is already quite thick before going into the oven, add enough of the cooking liquid from the beans to make it sufficiently soupy.

Bake the dish at 250-300 for about an hour before you add the crumbs.
The beans should be nicely soft and the sauce should have thickened a bit at this point.
Add more water if it dries out to keep it wet.

Top with the crumb mixture or your dumpling recipe; cover and bake for 3-5 minutes Uncover raise heat and brown crumbs.

If you are using the sausages, brown them and add just before you put the breadcrumbs on top.

Once the crumbs are browned/dumplings are set, remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes.

Serve with a crunchy green salad!

x-posted to vegrecipes
Tags: main dishes-stews
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