Have you tried a French Cassoulet? If you already have, then you already know that the rich, meaty and flavorful taste of this dish is quite addictive. It is worth sharing with your friends and loved ones.
If you are hosting a cassoulet party, you may be wondering what to serve with cassoulet. Well, this article can help you with that. Aside from giving you side dish ideas for your cassoulet dinner, we will also provide you with some fantastic tips on how to prepare your cassoulet dish.
If you are ready, then let us get started!
What is a Cassoulet?
Before we explore the different side dishes that go well with a cassoulet, let us first take a closer look at the classic version of this dish—what is it and what it is made of.
Cassoulet is a dish that originated from the south of France, not the United States. It is a casserole or classic French stew that contains meat and white beans that are slowly cooked and simmered in a rich and flavorful tomato gravy. This hearty dish is definitely a labor of love! You can use different types of meat for this recipe. Some of the most popular options that you have for a delicious cassoulet are duck meat, pork sausage, thick-cut bacon, garlic sausage, toulouse sausage (or really any kind of sausage), pork fat, a meat meld, skinless chicken thighs, and chicken breast. Add a breadcrumb topping and you’re good to go!
The name of the dish is derived from its traditional cooking vessel—the cassole. This is a thick and deep round pot with slanting sides that are made of earthenware. If you don’t have an earthenware pot, you can use a regular pot or baking dish.
How to Perfectly Cook Cassoulet
Considering that the origin of this dish dates a few decades back, it can be quite intimidating for us to try and achieve its authentic taste now. After all, it is a complex dish. But of course, this is nothing that lots of tips and guidance can’t fix. Thanks to the Guardian, we have discovered the anatomy of the perfect Cassoulet recipe.
French cassoulet with bean and meats
Let us start with the beans. The type of beans that you use can make or break your Cassoulet recipe. To make a great Cassoulet, the beans should be tender and have absorbed all the flavors and aromas of the other ingredients in the dish. However, they should not fall apart.
For optimum softness, you can go for haricots de Soissons, but they are a bit difficult to find. If you can’t find them, you can go for dried haricots, but you should soak them overnight so you can achieve the tenderness that you want without overcooking them.
On the other hand, the meat content of the dish must be divided into three categories—meat needed to season the beans (combination of salted meats like bacon, pancetta, and pork rind), the bulk (pork ribs, pork belly, or lamb), and lastly, the stars of the dish (confit and sausage).
For flavorings and seasonings, you can use parsley, thyme, garlic cloves, fresh rosemary and bay leaves. The only vegetable you would need for this dish would be tomatoes for the tomato pure. If you wish to take your cassoulet into a whole new level, you can top it with bread crumbs. The addition of this topping allows you to achieve a well-made cassoulet crust that you can only achieve using an oven.
What to Serve with Cassoulet
What side dishes can you pair with cassoulet? The truth is, cassoulet already gives you a full packed flavor—it is meaty, rich, thick and flavorful—everything that you would ever ask for. Since it contains lots of meat, it will not make sense for you to add more fats from a cheesy or buttery side dish. Since the beans are already filling, a carbohydrate-rich side dish like fries and breads may already seem too much. However, you can pair it with a French baguette or any other type of French bread! A loaf of crusty bread pairs well with almost everything. This dish is also one that gets better and better so you can eat it the next day. Just store it in a large bowl or airtight container for the best results.
Some dishes do not need side dishes, and frankly, the cassoulet dish is one of them. So instead of looking for side dishes, what we recommend is to think of appetizers, desserts, and drinks! To help you with that, here are some of our recommendations:
If you have noticed, the cassoulet recipe only has one element missing— vegetables. Since this is the case, the best thing that you can do is to jumpstart your cassoulet dinner with a hearty simple green vegetable salad as your appetizer.
Our best recommendation is to go for a green salad with vinaigrette. You may want to try this arugula salad recipe if you wish to keep things simple and fuss-free.
After a really filling meal, you would surely want to relax your taste buds and tummy, of course. But the best way to end your heart Cassoulet dinner is a refreshing yet light dessert. If you have a large dutch oven, you could make a pineapple upside down cake or a fruit cobbler.
It would be best for you to try something fruity, like these pineapple desserts. This fruit contains enzymes that can help you digestive the meaty goodness of your Cassoulet. Oh, and let us also not forget about the fact that it is incredibly refreshing too!
You may not need any side dishes to complete your Cassoulet dinner, but no Cassoulet party will ever be complete without wine. In fact, it would be impossible for you to eat dinner without drinking wine if you are in France.
If you are having a small Cassoulet dinner with your family, a bottle of red wine or white whine will do. But if you are hosting a Cassoulet party, you may want to bring in a few bottles of wine. Some amazing wine pairing options that you have for a Cassoulet dish are—Marcillac, Madiran, Cahors, Cotes du Rhone Villages, Hearty Languedoc reds, and other Malbecs.
To know more about cassoulet and wine pairing, please watch this video:
Perfecting a traditional dish like the French Cassoulet can be quite challenging but with the right types of ingredients—it is possible! But if you are planning to host a cassoulet party, your biggest question would be—what to serve with cassoulet?
This is a difficult question to answer considering that cassoulet is already jam-packed with rich flavors so pairing it with other dishes may already be a bit too much. Instead of side dishes, you can complete with your cassoulet party with appetizers, desserts, and drinks that we have mentioned above.
Do you have more ideas on what to serve with cassoulet? If you do, please share them with us below!