The word “cassoulet” in the title of a recipe might evoke an image of a complex, multistep recipe that requires many hours of work. Some cassoulets can even take days to prepare; however, a cassoulet need not be that complicated. In the end, it’s basically just a bean casserole.
The classic dish from the south of France is named for the deep, round earthenware pot called a cassole in which it is baked. The combination of ingredients such as duck confit, cured meats and the beans are first cooked separately then combined in the cassole. This process makes cassoulet a great make-ahead dish.
Not long ago, a well-traveled client requested I prepare an authentic cassoulet. Most of the ingredients had to be ordered from specialty suppliers, and all came with hefty price tags. This easy chicken cassoulet uses budget-friendly chicken thighs and ingredients found in any area grocery store. You may already have many of these ingredients on hand.
Herbes de Provence is a dried herb blend of thyme, savory, marjoram, rosemary and lavender. While you can make your own, Penzeys sells a great blend (which is what I use).
Tarbais beans are traditional in cassoulet but aren’t easily found in this area. Cannellini (white kidney beans) or Great Northern beans work just as well.
Although this version is significantly lower in fat and calories than the original, it is still a hearty, filling dish. All that’s needed on the side is a green salad and crusty bread.
— cooking spray
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil plus 2 teaspoons
— salt and black pepper
3 boneless skinless chicken thighs (3/4 pound)
½ medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
1 stalk celery, finely chopped (about ½ cup)
1 medium carrot, finely chopped (about ½ cup)
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup dry white wine
1 8-inch piece turkey or pork kielbasa, diced (about 1 cup)
1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
1 can (8-ounces) tomato sauce
¾ cup chicken broth
1 can (15-ounce) cannellini or Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
½ cup fresh breadcrumbs
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a small casserole dish with cooking spray and set aside.
Heat butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat. Season chicken thighs with salt and black pepper. Cook chicken thighs 3 to 4 minutes per side or until browned and cooked through. Transfer to a plate; reserve fat.
Reduce heat to medium-low. Cook onion, celery and carrot in the drippings for 5 to 7 minutes or until very soft. Add the wine, bring to a boil and cook until almost evaporated. Add garlic and kielbasa and cook 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in herbes de Provence, tomato sauce, chicken broth, beans and parsley. Bring to a simmer.
Place half of the bean mixture in the bottom of the prepared casserole dish. Coarsely chop the chicken thighs and place over bean mixture. Pour remaining bean mixture over the chicken thighs.
Combine breadcrumbs with remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil and sprinkle over the top of the cassoulet.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbling, heated through and breadcrumbs are lightly browned. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.