so, i set out to put together a worcester-centric food blog, only to make my first post from the wilds of rural new jersey. yes, there are wilds in dirty jerz. like wild wood, and swedesboro *shudder*. i’m not saying i’d never go to swedesboro, but i would NEVER go to swedesboro. have you seen those people?!? but it’s the day after chistmas, my birthday. yes, my birthday is the day after christmas, and yes it blows. i’ve never had a friends party (too close to the holiday), never got to bring cupcakes into school when i was little (school is out of session) never get to go out to a bar with anyone (nothing is open), etc, etc, blahblahblah. not that i’m complaining of course. i mean, i get to spend every birthday at my parent’s house, with my family, in the wilds of rural new jersey…EVERY. BIRTHDAY. EVERY. but, i digress. so, since i’m stuck in the middle of nowhere for the day, i’ve started a most enjoyable tradition: i cook the eff out of something and drink bourbon. and for the last two years, that’s been working out pretty well. i’m all about the pork. sausage, is god’s gift to me – a peace offering for being born the day after his frakking son. and one of my favorite dishes with sausage is cassoulet. i’ve sort of forgotten the first recipe i found and used for cassoulet (i don’t really ever use a recipe), so i just winged it again. plus, this allows for an ever-evolving dish, which is awesome. my mom had some great thick cut slab bacon from the local farmers market and some really nice pork sausages to start with. sauteed that up in the le creuset,
removed the bacon when browned (don’t drain!!) and let the sausages go at a medium flame. add some mirepoix, sweat, then added stock, wine, water just to cover the pork shoulders and let that simmer away for a while. i cheat and use canned white beans, but there are plenty of peeps who think the dried produce a better final product. i guess it has something to do with the dried bean soaking in ALL THE FAT that this dish has. if you have the time, sure, soak some cannelloni overnight and incorporate. didn’t have duck legs (well, i could get them, but at $35 for the entire duck…meh) so i used chicken thighs. browned and reserved for the final pot. some say there should be no tomato in this dish at all, but i always throw in a bit of tomato paste, just to thicken and give it a nice reddish hue. so, basically, once all your meats are browned, toss them into the stock mix and let that simmer for 2 hours at about 250 (times and temps are not fixed due to amount of bourbon consumption at this point). once everything gets in the le creuset dutch oven and braises for a couple of hours, pull it and top with a mix of breadcrumbs and shredded parmesan cheese. you want a nice, thick crust on this so put an ample amount. throw it back in the oven and hit high on the broiler. keep an eye on it because you don’t want to burn all that parmesan goodness, but you want it to crisp up. at this point, it’s either gonna’ rock or it’s gonna’ be crap. hope it’s not crap. and if it is, you can’t really blame me, now can you? merry christmas and happy effing birthday.