Monday, 30 September 2013

Cassoulet (vegan mofo 2013 XXII)

A French friend of mine was complaining about the weird food he'd been given when on a language exchange in England. "What type of thing?", I asked. "They eat cassoulet for breakfast", he replied. Presumably he was talking about those tinned Heinz baked beans with sausages. Not quite cassoulet, but hey.

Cassoulet is quite possibly France's best one-pot meal. They love it so much that there's even a Fellowship of the Cassoulet: a guild of folk who take cassoulet so seriously that they dress in funny clothes and parade around shouting about how much they love the stuff. Ahh, France.

The traditional version(s) of this dish include(s) lots and lots of different meats: sausages, pork belly, confit duck, chicken carcasses and more. This vegan version has three different meaty-type things, as well as lots of vegetables and mushrooms (plus a couple of secret ingredients) to add depth of flavour.

Vegan cassoulet recipe

250g dry white beans, soaked overnight (at least 12 hours)
3 smoked vegan sausages
3 other vegan sausages of your choosing
2 generous handfuls large TVP chunks
2 carrots, diced
1 leek, washed and sliced into 1cm rounds
4-6 fredh mushrooms
8 slices/pieces dried cèpe/porcini mushrooms
500g passata/sieved tomatoes
3 cloves garlic (peeled and left whole)
5 Tbsp olive oil
3 bay leaves
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp marjoram
1 pinch powdered sage
1/2 tsp Marmite
1 Tbsp Bisto powder
1.5 litres water
Salt & pepper

  1. Heat the oil in a big fat pot. When hot, tip in the sausages whole. If you have nice big fat American sausages, a) halve them lengthways and b) send me some. Now tip in the prepared carrots, leek, and fresh mushrooms. Cook on high until slightly browned.
  2. Once everything in the pan is golden, remove the sausages. Now pour in the water and scrape to remove any tasty bits stuck to the bottom. Drain the beans from their soaking water, rinse, and add to the pot. Drop in the TVP chunks, garlic, dried mushrooms, and herbs and bring to a boil.
  3. Allow to boil for 5 minutes, then lower the heat to a very gentle simmer and cover the pot. Cook for an hour and a half to two hours, stirring gently every 20 minutes or so. When the beans are tender, stir in the Bisto and Marmite.
  4. If the cassoulet still looks too saucy, cook on high without the lid to reduce, until the sauce is rich and thick but not dry. Return the sausages to the pot to heat through.
  5. Serves six, with good crusty bread for dipping. Verdict from Omni: "top drawer! Helen, this is a triumph".

Vegan mofo 2013: over and out! It's been fun!

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