More time. Cassoulet is one of those dishes that doesn't respond especially well to 21st-century quickifying. It tasted almost twice as good this morning as it did last night.

More fat. I went light on the duck fat because some eG reports I'd read said that merguez gave off a bunch of fat (not duck fat of course that would be weird) when used in cassoulet. That didn't seem to be the case.

More salt. I was somehow afraid that my various salty meats would render things, eh...too salty. They didn't. We were still salting at the table, which I dislike doing.

More meat. The duck pretty much disintegrated, this was the one thing that Dean & DeLuca's recipe got right (they favor the Carcassone version over the Toulouse version), basically that duck is kind of wasted here: go with a lamb ragout instead as the other meat. Next time I will. If I did put some quackery in there, I'd leave it on the bone.

More juice
. Yeah...the beans + meat had all this extra liquid until I took a nap before dinner and then they sucked it all up while I slept. Slept through my alarm, in fact, and woke up 15 minutes before guests and Mara arrived. Lucky for me I'd done almost everything before closing The Eye. But in its just-awoken state The Eye didn't realize the crucial liquid loss, did it. Bad Eye.

Better juice
. Yes, my quick lamb stock didn't do the trick. Looks like I'll be making the real thing next time. This time I had to resort to the Secret Ingredients (my dad works there), which worked out fine.

Better beans
. I just used "white beans", which were fine, but I'd like to see what difference is made by upgrading to Corona or Tarbais.

Bread crumbs=good
. This was something that Dean & DeLuca got totally wrong...they said to skip the breadcrumbs. I didn't, I made my own and buttered them, they were one of the highlights from a taste, texture, and contrast perspective.

Green salad=good
. The only accompaniment was a Caesar-ish salad, red wine, and crusty bread, and that was perfect. Camembert with Calvados for dessert.

Pre-dinner munch
. I'd love to find something light that people could put their tooth on beforehand that won't fill them up. Olives are obvious...anything clean-tasting and vegetable-oriented would work fine...I'll keep an eye (but not The Eye) out.
I think that's it. No pictures this time after all...we'll call this a fact-finding mission. I learned a lot, and I'm glad to have gotten my first one out of the way. I think by doing the quick 'n' lazy version first, I really understand what elements would benefit most from a slower approach. By taking the more traditional route, cooking everything in one pot (vs. cooking all meats separately, separate stocks, etc.), what you end up with is essentially "just beans 'n' meat." Rarely a bad thing, but yes I can see how this could become more excellent.


Nina said...

i love those beans. With lamb stew on a very cold winter day.. yumm...

Mark, you get get pandanus leaves from the big chinese/asiamn supermarket in duivendrecht. that place has everything asian/tropical you can imagine of!

Let me know if need directions (i.e more details) I'll drop you a mail if necessary!


MEM said...

Lamb stew is exactly what this version needed...the merguez and duck weren't enough meat, resulting in overbeaniness. Next time I will do the standard lamb ragout as well and skip the duck i think.

thanks for the duivendrecht tip...Mara goes down there once a week or so. Do you remember the name of it? Feel free to send email to mark at wittereus dot net if that's smarter/easier. Thanks, Nina!