New Hampshire “Cassoulet”
By Charlie Burke
Cassoulet originated in Languedoc in southern France, and in that region, where is remains a popular and
iconic dish, it always includes dried beans, confit (goose meat preserved in goose fat) and traditional
herbs and flavoring.
Elsewhere, the term is loosely applied to dried bean casseroles with ingredients varying by locale and
usually containing meat or sausage. In central New Hampshire, then, high quality smoked bacon and
sausage from the local smokehouse, dried navy beans and our own garlic and dried sage made a natural
2 pounds dried beans, rinsed (soaked overnight if not from the most recent harvest)
3 pounds pork sausage (or a mix of sausage, pork butt or ham), cut into ½” cubes
6 large garlic cloves, peeled
¼ lb smoked bacon, chopped
1 medium onion
2 carrots, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons dried sage or 1 ½ tablespoons chopped fresh
½ cup dry red or white wine
Extra virgin olive oil – ¼ cup, plus extra for sautéing and for final assembly
2 cups chicken stock or chicken bouillon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup fresh bread crumbs
Drain the beans and put them into a heavy pot. Add the garlic cloves, bay leaves, sage and ¼ cup olive
oil. Add water to just cover, bring to a boil over medium high heat, and then adjust the heat so that the
water is at a simmer. Add water as needed to keep beans barely covered. Cook until the beans are just
soft enough to mash under a knife; do not over-cook. Remove the beans from the heat.
While the beans are cooking, in a sauté pan, cook the sausage or mix of meats until it is well browned.
Remove the sausage and rendered fat to a plate and add the bacon to the sauté pan over medium heat.
When the bacon begins to color, add the chopped onion, carrot and celery and cook, stirring until the
vegetables are soft. Add the wine and cook until the wine has nearly evaporated. Mix the sautéed bacon
and vegetables into the beans, adding salt and pepper to taste.
Place the bean mixture into an oiled shallow terracotta casserole or other shallow baking dish and
sufficient stock to bring the level of liquid to just below the surface. Press the sausage or meat mixture
down into the beans and pour the rendered fat over the top of the beans. The surface should glisten from
the fat; if not, add additional olive oil so that the beans on the surface are moistened (The dish can be
prepared to this point and refrigerated for up to 48 hours. Bring to room temperature before proceeding).
Heat the oven to 400 degrees, sprinkle the surface of the cassoulet with the bread crumbs and bake until
the liquid is bubbling and the surface is browned – approximately 45 minutes.
Served with a robust red wine, along with a green salad and crusty bread, this is a great rustic meal for
your family or for entertaining. Leftovers make flavorful sides for meat or fatty fish, such as swordfish,
which can actually be broiled atop the cassoulet, providing a crusty base upon which to serve the
About the author: An organic farmer and avid cook, writer Charlie Burke is the vice president of the New Hampshire
Farmer's Market Association, president of the NH Farm to Restaurant Connection and helps run the Sanbornton
(NH) Farmers' Market. Along with his wife, Joanne, Charlie grows certified organic herbs, greens and berries at
Weather Hill Farm in Sanbornton, NH.
Photo: © BrokenSphere / Wikimedia Commons