Centennial Celebrations!

When I posted last week’s article about the Canal du Midi, WordPress told me – much to my amazement – that I had published my 99th post!  Which makes this the 100th post on this blog – and a centenary calls for a celebration!!

But first of all, my thanks to everyone who has been reading, liking and commenting, to my partner for his unwavering support, and to Annie for her dedicated proof-reading!!  It’s been highly enjoyable for me and I hope you’ve enjoyed it too!  I love reading your comments and if there’s anything you would like me to write about then please let me know!

Now, how about celebrating with some Cassoulet??  It’s a typical winter dish from the Languedoc, and it is very special!  According to some sources, making a “proper” Cassoulet takes three days, and I can well believe it.  We’ll have our Cassoulet at  L’Auberge de l’Ecole in Saint Jean de Minervois – Brigitte makes her Cassoulet the way her grandmother taught her, and it is delicious, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it!

L’Auberge de l’Ecole is in the former schoolhouse of St Jean de Minervois, and we’ll find the menu written on an old blackboard, which can be tilted in the direction of our table.  The fireplace at the other end of the room is great for cooking a steak or lamb chop on, and the fire is always a cheery sight on a cool day!

Before we start our meal, here is Brigitte’s recipe for Cassoulet:  she starts by soaking the beans in water overnight, with a pinch of baking soda.  The following day she rinses the beans well, brings a pot of water to a boil and adds the beans.  She then lets the water come to a boil again, drains the beans; brings fresh water to a boil and adds the beans again; she repeats this once more, then simmers the beans until tender.

Brigitte also makes her own confit de canard, pieces of duck simmered slowly in duck fat.  It is an interesting process, but unless you can buy fat ducks readily it’s best to buy your confit ready-made, in a tin.

Once the beans are cooked and the confit ready, Brigitte assembles the Cassoulet:  in a large casserole she slowly cooks chopped onions in duck fat until they are golden but not browned.  To the onion she adds some tomato paste, garlic, herbes de provence, lardons (diced streaky bacon) and the cooked beans.  Brigitte then seasons this and leaves it to simmer until the beans are impregnated with the flavours;  halfway through the cooking time she adds the pieces of confit – as the confit is already cooked she doesn’t want it to get cooked to the point of disintegrating. Before serving, she puts the Cassoulet in a nice gratin dish, sprinkles it with breadcrumbs and grills it until the top is crisp and golden.

So there you have it – this is Brigitte’s recipe!  One thing Brigitte seems to have left out is the sausage!! I know that whenever I have her Cassoulet, there is always a nice piece of Toulouse sausage in it, in addition to the confit.

But now you’ve been salivating long enough – it’s time to sit down and eat – à table!!  What shall we have as a starter before our Cassoulet?  How about some starters to share?  A platter of boudin noir (black pudding) with apples, and some foie gras (this one made with duck liver) – both very delicious!

P1050208

P1050209

And now for the Cassoulet – one dish per person!!

P1050215

Will you have room for dessert?  In case you do here is some home-made pear tart.

P1050219

If you had eaten all that food you would certainly not want anything for dinner tonight, but seeing that this has been a virtual lunch you might be more hungry than ever?!  All the same, I hope you’ve enjoyed our little celebration!!  Thanks for coming along and à bientôt, I hope.

If you’d like to spend more time in St Jean de Minervois have a look at www.midihideaways.com/anciencafe

Advertisements

19 thoughts on “Centennial Celebrations!

  1. Andreas, congratulations on attaining your first century of blogs. I hope there are many more to come as your writing not only reminds me of all the great things we have done in your part of the world, but it also shares with us so many more things that we can do on our next visit.

    But now, after reading your blog and thinking I would have chosen exactly what you did from the menu, I am salivating prodigiously and think it’s time for lunch – unfortunately just a sandwich.

    Best wishes and keep up the good work. Keith

    Like

  2. Wow #100 – Congrats, Andreas!!! Your blog always makes us homesick for France! a
    And cassoulet my favorite dish so in my book you could not have pick a better topic for #100. 🙂 Keep it going……

    Like

  3. Huge congrats Andreas, it’s always a great read. A job well done but far from complete. 3 months tomorrow before we leave Oz for Saint Chinian and looking forward to catching up with you both.

    Like

  4. No better subject than Cassoulet for a centennial celebration! I’ve only made it once but it did take three days. In Castelnaudary, we couldn’t finish it and the restaurant said take it home and bring the plate back when you can – we did. Thanks for your blogs Andreas, always reminds me of good times!

    Like

  5. Congratulations too from me. Your conscriptions, pictures and stories are always a joy to receive. I am down in the Herault only half the year: however through your accounts I am never away. Many many thanks – and sorry for being late to the party!

    Like

Did you enjoy this post? Let me know what you think

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s