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Cassoulet isn’t a spur of the moment thing but a labour of love. There are several steps involved and you can’t really cut corners. And unlike most of the recipes I’ve posted here, cassoulet isn’t light either. The classic version is a real pork and duck fat fest, coming up with a satisfying vegan interpretation was a little challenging but I’m quite pleased with the result. Here’s a very flavourful, winter, stick-to-your-bones sort of dish and a delicious one at that too.

So if you feel so inclined, this is how I did it.

The finished cassoulet being served.

Step 1 make the

Tempeh bacon

Ingredients

  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) maple sugar
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) smoked salt
  • 30 ml (1 tbsp) smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1.25 ml (1/4 tsp) cayenne pepper
  • 16 oz (2 packages) tempeh, thinly sliced
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) canola oil

In a large dinner plate, combine the maple sugar, smoked salt, paprika and cayenne pepper. lightly brush the tempeh with oil and dredge the slices one by one, stack them on a separate plate. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

The next day,  smoke the bacon for 30 minutes before you bake it. (Optional. To improve the smoky flavour. This step requires a special smoker)

Lay the tempeh slice in a single layer on an oiled baking sheet. Bake at 150°C  (300°F) for an hour or until crispy, turning once. Remove from oven and reserve. (Note: You cannot eat all of this before in goes into the cassoulet).

making the tempeh bacon

 

Step 2 make the

Roasted Tomato Confit

Ingredients

  • 6 plum tomatoes
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) extra-virgin olive oil
  • coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) fresh thyme, minced
  • 2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) sugar

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 100°C (215°F). Halve tomatoes lengthwise and place, cut-side up, on an oiled baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt, pepper, sugar and thyme. Roast until tomatoes are golden brown and semi-dried, about 4 hours. Let stand until cool and reserve.

making the roasted tomato confit

Step 3 make the

Smoked tofu confit

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp smoked salt
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 sprigs thyme
  • coarsely ground black pepper
  • 225 gr (8 oz) smoked tofu, cut into bite size
  • 500 ml (2 cups) vegetable oil (approximately)

Preheat the oven to 100°C (215°F). Arrange the tofu in a single layer in a baking dish. Season with salt, garlic, thyme and pepper. Cover with oil and cook for 2 hours. Remove from oven and reserve.

smoked tofu confit

For the cassoulet

Ingredients

  • 225 gr (8 oz) smoked tofu confit
  • 225 gr (8oz) tempeh bacon
  • 450 gr (1 lb) dried Tarbais or cannellini beans, picked over and rinsed
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) olive oil (I used oil left over from the tofu confit)
  • 6 roasted tomatoes confit
  • 2 carrots, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium onions, finely diced
  • 3 small celery ribs, finely diced
  • 1 head of garlic, unpeeled and left whole
  • 30 gr (1 oz) dried porcinni mushrooms
  • 2 L (8 1/2 cups) strong mushroom stock
  • 1 bouquet garni: 6 parsley sprigs, 4 thyme sprigs and 2 bay leaves, tied with string
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) smoked Spanish paprika
  • 120 ml (1/2 cup) cup fresh bread crumbs

Soak the beans over night.

Drain the beans and put them in a large saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil over moderate heat. Simmer for 30 minutes, or until the beans are done but still firm. Drain.

In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the oil. Add the carrots, celery and onions, cook over moderate heat stirring occasionally, until the onion is golden, about 7 minutes.Add the head of garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the broth, dried porcini mushrooms, bouquet garni and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

 

the cassoulet ready to go into the oven

 

Remove from heat. Pick out the head of garlic and reserve. Discard the bouquet garni.
Preheat the oven to 165°C (325°F). Transfer the liquid mixture, the beans, tomatoes and tofu to a large earthenware casserole. Squeeze out the cooked garlic cloves and stir the paste into the ragout. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bake the cassoulet for 1 hour.

Gently stir in the skin that has formed on the cassoulet. Add the tempeh bacon and top with bread crumbs, sprinkle with smoked paprika. Bake the cassoulet for 1 hour longer, until it is richly browned on the surface. Remove from oven and rest for at least 20 minutes before serving.

Serves 8

 

Wine pairing suggestion

In Toulouse, where Casoulet originates, the locals pour hearty, tannic reds to accompany cassoulet. But has this version isnt as fatty and contains no meat I would suggest you go with a lighter red such a Cinsault/Grenache/Carignane blend from the Languedoc-Roussillon region or more for a more unusual combination, try a lush and smokey german riesling. Its high acidity and touch of residual sugar will pair well with this rich tomatoey dish.

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