Until a year ago I couldn’t tell you the difference between a Chevrolet and a cassoulet, but after my last two visits to Trealy Farm in Wales I am all about the cassoulet. If you didn’t guess a cassoulet is very closely related to what Americans call casseroles, at least in name. The latter are usually baked in an oven, and in my limited experience the former are done on a stove top. Both are designed to be made in a single cooking dish, which makes them ideal for busy people.
This specific recipe is based on a dish I had at Trealy Farm in March 2015, and I modified it only a bit. A little web research indicates that there are many sausage and chickpea cassoulets out there, so please feel free to experiment. Personally I plan to add some mushrooms to my next one based on this recipe on Soup Club.
The recipe below took me all of 30 minutes from start to finish so it really is an ideal mid-week quick supper.
1 lb pork sausage links
15 ounce can of chickpeas
1 large yellow onion diced
3/4 cup whole milk or cream
Small bunch of kale, stalks removed and rough chopped
1 1/4 cup (uncooked) brown basmati rice
salt & pepper
2 Tbsp canola oil
I really do think the rice cooker is one of the most important pieces of equipment in a kitchen. It makes it nearly impossible to over or under cook rice, plus the the rice can be made ahead of time and the machine will keep it warm without allowing it to become sticky and or gluey. This is why this step in the recipe is first. I prefer brown rice for the added nutritional benefits, but any rice will do. However if you use brown rice it will take longer to cook, so plan accordingly. In our rice cooker, brown rice takes 2 hours. If you want to have this dish during the work week, consider programming your rice cooker to start before you get home so it is ready when you get home.
Select a large frying pan, and heat the oil in it. Fry the sausages in the oil until cooked through. One really can use any sausage they want, but a pork-based one will give up some of the oils needed to help make the creamy sauce. The first time I made this dish I chose an Italian style lamb and pork sausage from a local farm, Tamarack Vermont Sheep Farm.
Once cooked through, remove the sausages and add the diced onions to the hot pan. Sauté the onions and then add the chickpeas. Cut the sausages into chunks and then return them to the pan before adding the kale. Reduce the heat to low, and cover the dish to allow the kale to wilt.
At this point the rice is ready, and the dish can sit until you are ready to serve. When you are ready to serve, simply stir in the milk or cream to make the sauce. Ladle the cassoulet over a serving of rice in a bowl and enjoy.
Remember that this is a starting point for a very flexible dish. If you have a red pepper in the house, chop it up and add it. If you have mushrooms slice them up and add them!