Last night I noticed my jar of herbes de provence in the spice rack. I bought these herbs solely to make cassoulet after receiving “Julie & Julia” and Mastering the Art of French Cooking by the lovely Julia Child as a gift from my mother-in-law. I read the cookbook as if it was the most riveting spy novel ever written. I fell even more in love with food with every chapter.
The original recipe involves many steps, loads of preparation, and something I have very little of: time. I would literally have to hire a babysitter and work in the kitchen all day to follow everything Julia et ses compagnes say in the book. It’s a task reserved for a holiday dinner, where babysitters are abound and generally will take the baby before I have to ask someone for help. (Thanks grandma and grandpa!)
I’ve played with a few of the key ingredients to concoct a simple lighter version of cassoulet. Herbes de provence of course play the herb role here.
- 3 slices bacon
- half of a large white onion, diced
- one clove garlic, minced
- one carrot, diced
- one 15 oz can northern beans, drained
- half of a red bell pepper
- two Roma tomatoes, diced
- tablespoon herbes de provence
- sea salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- roasted chicken, divide into portions, remove fat and skin
Cut the bacon into 1/4 inch pieces and spread out in a cold pan. Turn on the heat to a medium-low, just to get the fat to render out of the bacon. Remove any bits of bacon which start to get crispy. Add the onion and sauté for two minutes. Add the garlic and carrot, sprinkle the herbs, salt and pepper and stir. When the garlic is soft, about one minute, add the tomatoes and beans. Stir to begin deglazing the pan with the juice of the tomatoes, turn up the heat to medium-high and pour in the stock scraping any brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.
I cut the veggies in a small dice so that they melt away when simmered. The beans are left intact, and the chicken pieces should be heated through.
My son loves beans, all I have to say is come have some “beans” and he gobbles up his bowl of cassoulet and asks for seconds. This is why I love food and sharing with my family!