Ever since our trip to Carcassonne a few years back, I have been obsessed with cassoulet. Like many great French dishes, cassoulet has its history as a peasant food. Today it has seen a resurgence in haute cuisine especially in the US.
First, let’s talk about Carcassonne. It is like a medieval fairy tale castle. In fact, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves was filmed here. Pro-tip: stay in town so you can stay longer and avoid the crowds. The buses get there during normal tour times, and once they left we had the whole ramparts to ourselves just strolling the well lit walls.
Cassoulet is typically made with several meats: duck, sausage, goose, pork are the usual suspects combined with white beans and served in a heavy pot called a cassoule hence the name. It is savory goodness.
Recently I had cassoulet at Artisans in Houston and came away impressed. It is a modern take on the classic dish using lentils as the base instead of beans. It also has a southern flair in the meat selection. Pork belly and bone marrow were added to the traditional duck and house-made sausage choices making for a delicious meat-fest. I highly recommend going to Artisans for a classic French dining experience anyway, but I was especially impressed with Chef Fox’s take on my favorite French staple. C’était très bien!!
A few weeks later, we were in Chicago at The Publican. It’s a multi-year James Beard award winner and I saw this:
Cassoulet and heavy metal. Are you kidding me! That’s like a Tom Brady to Randy Moss dream combo! Sad to say I won’t be able to get back up there any time soon. If you are in the area: allez-y!
Moral of the story: try cassoulet!