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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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December 29, 2012

Primal Cassoulet

By Worker Bee
38 Comments

Primal CassouletCassoulet is often thought of as a massive undertaking that requires days to cook. It’s also often assumed that cassoulet can’t be made without beans. In this Primal version, neither is true. In a few hours you’ll have one of the meatiest meals imaginable. Incredibly rich and hearty with layers of different flavors, this is a meal not to be missed.

Cassoulet is made with all kinds of meat and can get a little pricey, depending on what you choose. This recipe is mid-range, as it blends pork shoulder and sausage, duck, and bacon. You can go all out and use more duck or even duck confit. You can scale back and add more pork shoulder and no duck at all. Or, you can use lamb if you want.

At this point, if you’re starting to feel like cassoulet is a casual one-pot meal that’s improvised depending on what’s on hand, then that’s good. This is not fancy French food, it’s French comfort food, so there’s no reason to be intimidated…even after you glance below and see how many ingredients and steps are involved.

Don’t sweat it. This is an easy version of cassoulet. All the recipe really involves is buying a bunch of meat and vegetables, chopping them up, browning everything and then simmering for several hours. This is cassoulet for people who don’t have time to spend three days cooking, but still want a big flavor pay-off at the end.

The beans usually found in cassoulet are replaced here with rutabaga, a root vegetable with a sweet, earthy flavor and creamy texture that is surprisingly close to beans. And oh, yeah, about that traditional bread crumb topping….you don’t really need that either. Try finely chopped oven-roasted cauliflower instead to give your cassoulet a toasted, buttery finish.

Servings: Six to eight

Time in the Kitchen: One hour of active cooking time, plus two hours of simmering

Ingredients:

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter (30 ml)
  • 1 pound pork shoulder, lightly seasoned with salt and pepper, cut into 1-inch cubes (450 g) (25 mm)
  • 1 pound of duck legs or breasts (breast works much better for recipe, unless you want to splurge and buy duck confit) (450 g)
  • 8 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste (30 ml)
  • 1 pound pork sausage (sweet Italian works well) cut into 1/2 inch slices (450 g) (12 mm)
  • 1/2 pound pancetta or bacon, cut into small pieces (230 g)
  • 2 cups whole peeled canned tomatoes, broken up with your hands (300 g)
  • 2 to 3 cups chicken stock (500 to 750 ml)
  • 2 rutabagas, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch cubes (12 mm)
  • 1 bay leaf, 4 sprigs of parsley and 4 sprigs of thyme tied together with twine
  • 1/2 a head of cauliflower
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (30 ml)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley (60 ml)
  • Pinch of sea salt

Instructions:

Melt the butter in a Dutch oven or other ovenproof pot (five quart or more) over med heat.

Add the pork and brown on each side, about six minutes total. Remove the pork from the pot.

Add the duck and brown, about eight minutes. Remove from pot.

Browned Meat

When it cools, pull the meat off the bones (if using legs) and shred. If using the breast, simply slice the meat into chunks. The skin can be discarded or left on. It will add flavor to the dish, but also a lot of fat.

Turn the heat up to medium-high under the pot. Add the garlic, onion, celery, carrot and fennel. Cook until lightly browned, about ten minutes.

Add the tomato paste and mix well.

Step 1

Add the sausage and pancetta/bacon to the pot. Cook five minutes until sausage is browned. Add pork and duck back to the pot.

Add the tomatoes and simmer for ten minutes.

Add two cups of stock, the rutabaga, and the bundle of herbs and bring to a boil. Push the rutabaga and meat down with a spoon so they’re mostly under the liquid.

Simmering Cassoulet

Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for one hour.

While the cassoulet is simmering, make the cauliflower topping. Preheat the oven to 400 °F (205 °C). Cut out the inner core of the cauliflower and slice the cauliflower thinly. Toss with olive oil. Lay the cauliflower in one layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake (don’t stir it!) until really brown and crispy around edges, about forty-five minutes.

Take out and set aside. Chop up finely and mix with the parsley and a pinch of sea salt.

Reduce the oven heat to 350 °F (176 °C)

When the cassoulet is done simmering on the stove, remove the bundle of herbs. If you prefer a brothy cassoulet (rather than one with no broth remaining) then add the remaining cup of broth right now.

Put the pot in the oven and bake, uncovered, for roughly one hour and fifteen minutes. There is no need to stir it.

Sprinkle the cauliflower on top of the cassoulet. Place under the broiler for a few minutes to warm the cauliflower and brown the top of the cassoulet.

Serve immediately or over the next few days – it gets even better with time.

Cassoulet

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33 Comments on "Primal Cassoulet"

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Shamra Byrne
3 years 11 months ago

Looks delicious! I love the addition of rutabagas. Root vegetables are my seasonal addiction this winter.

Christa Crawford
3 years 11 months ago

I’m always looking for new ways to cook pork shoulder. I usually stick it in the slow cooker with a dry rub, but this is a great new idea. Thanks!

Alyssa Luck
3 years 11 months ago

I just perfected my recipe for pork shoulder! I always used to do it in the slow cooker, but I’ve discovered that I actually prefer it in the oven. Seems to get more flavorful when cooked at a higher temperature. Anyways, you’ve probably done something very similar to this because it’s not that new or different, but I think the combination of flavors is excellent (: Here’s the link if you want to try it! http://truthbutter.com/herbed-pork-shoulder/

Karen P.
3 years 11 months ago

Awesome! I was just reading the fantastic book The Forgotten Skills of Cooking last night and wondering how I could primalize a cassoulet. Thanks for doing the leg-work!

paleoDentist
3 years 11 months ago

That looks awesome. Can’t wait to try it

Shary
Shary
3 years 11 months ago

The cassoulet sounds terrific. I’ve made it with in the past using my French cookbook, which calls for a variety of meats plus navy beans. Unfortunately beans and I don’t get along, so I didn’t eat very much even though it was delicious. I will try it again using the rutabaga instead.

Paleo Bon Rurgundy
3 years 11 months ago

Mmmm, “paleo-izing” French cuisine. Can MDA tackle macaroons?

qtface
qtface
3 years 11 months ago
ASK & YE SHALL RECEIVE Recipe: Macaroons — GAPS, Paleo, Primal April 3, 2012 · 26 comments 242 158 1592 Macaroons are the most obvious treat for someone who is going grain-free. However, all the recipes I tried have turned out very dry and unappetizing. I’ve finally hit the jackpot with this one! These macaroons turn out moist and tasty every time! Macaroons were originally almond meringue cookies that had a crisp crust and a soft interior. They were made from egg whites and almond paste. The name comes from the Italian maccarone (mah-kah-ROW-nay),the word for pasta/macaroni and dumplings. Some… Read more »
Paleo Bon Rurgundy
3 years 11 months ago

Thank you, I look forward to trying this recipe.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
3 years 11 months ago

Macaroon or Macaron? “Macaroons” are usually made with shredded coconut and are not French (their version of this is called something else). But you’re probably thinking of “macarons”, which are the small, light “cookie” sandwiches and come in an array of pretty colors and flavors. Luckily for you, they are made with all primal ingredients already (except for white sugar, if you’re a purist), as the flour used for them is almond flour and not wheat.

Paleo Bon Rurgundy
3 years 11 months ago

Thank you Elizabeth, I was thinking of the latter. I didn’t realize the spelling difference. Now and then some sugar is okay. As well as a croissant. 🙂

Steve
3 years 11 months ago

Hey Mark

That looks incredible. I am getting more and more into slow cooked casserole type foods these days. Quick to prepare, tender, and easy to digest. Just got my wife a tagine for chrimbo and have eaten the first beef casserole, talk about tender.

Thanks for a great resource, loving it as always.

Michaela
Michaela
3 years 11 months ago

I’ll have to make this for my boyfriend. He loves rutabaga and anything French. I love all of the meats in this. It’s perfect!

onewomanband
3 years 11 months ago

I once spent a couple of days making a Toulouse-style cassoulet. It was worth it, but I think I like this idea better, and not only because it’s primal. Thanks!

Sarah
Sarah
3 years 11 months ago

This looks great. I think I even have most of the meat ingredients in my freezer – might sub bear sausage 🙂

Mark, if you can, could you start working on a primal version of haggis? It’s almost that time of year and I LOVE haggis but the oatmeal in it doesn’t love me. I’m okay with a once-in-a-while cheat but oatmeal causes me actual intestinal pain so it would be awesome to have that lovely, filling, peppery stodge without the pain eight hours later.

Harry Mossman
3 years 11 months ago

Cassoulet has beans. This sounds like a delicious dish but it isn’t cassoulet anymore than cauliflower “rice” is rice. Pffft!

Paleo Bon Rurgundy
3 years 11 months ago

I agree in principle; however, the title is “Primal Cassoulet”. The posting accuracy is legit.

Amy
Amy
3 years 11 months ago

Don’t take cassoulet too seriously. 😉 It’s just French stew and I have no doubt it was originally developed to use a bunch of leftovers. Leaving out the beans would be a perfectly fine (and French) thing to do if they weren’t on hand. After all, this is the cuisine that raised onions, beef bones, and some old cheese and bread to a little slice heaven in a bowl. (Onion soup…*sigh* It’s even good without the crouton.)

Fauna V.
Fauna V.
3 years 11 months ago

I’ve made cassoulets with duck confit, goose confit or rabbit confit plus my homemade duck, goose or lamb sausages. And don’t let making the confit intimidate you. It simply involves cooking meat in fat for twelve hours at a low temperature (180 to 220 degrees). (I use a crock pot.) Goose or duck fat is best, although butter, lard or olive oil can also be used.

Ashlee Anderson
3 years 11 months ago

Looks delicious and with or without beans I really do not think that is matters that much, but if it were me I’d let it sit for a day before eating.

smartsearch
3 years 11 months ago

That’s great article. You know – this is exactly what I was looking for. I shall give you a big thanks for this great piece of information. Keep it up.

jean-yves barralis
jean-yves barralis
3 years 11 months ago

I look quickly at the recipe, and an essentiel ingredient is missing : powder nutmeg.
Breadcrumb is absolutly not necessary for most pepole.

It is typically a French dish that could not be made without the discovery of America (tomatoes, corn to forcefeed the duck, to a certain extend nutmeg).
The american tourist here love it.

A french cook from Toulouse (capitale of the Cassoulet – with Castelnaudary.

Jenny
3 years 11 months ago

That looks uh-may-zing.

juicymoosey
juicymoosey
3 years 11 months ago

This was delicious and popular with the husband as it was basically a one pot meat fest!

Gaby
3 years 11 months ago

This recipe is brilliant, can’t wait to try it!

Dawn
Dawn
3 years 11 months ago

Anyone think I can deer meat to the mix?

Chris
Chris
3 years 11 months ago

I don’t see any reason not to include the venison – it would add a lovely rich gamey flavour. I’m going to make this tomorrow and I’ll reply to say how it goes. I’m tempted to try it in the slow cooker, but I’ll follow the recipe for the first time to see what it comes out like.

Dawn
Dawn
3 years 11 months ago

Thanks Chris! Let me know how it turns out!

Megan
Megan
3 years 11 months ago

Just ate it for dinner.. Yum!! My 2.5 year old even had seconds!

Alice
Alice
3 years 10 months ago

I am currently making this for dinner, and cannot stop tasting it! We made confit duck legs ahead of time, thus defeating the whole “only takes a few hours” perk (ditto an overnight chicken wingtip stock), but I’m sure they’ll be a worthy addition. We are going to crisp them up under the grill and add them at the end, though, rather than having them in the pot throughout.

Perfect thing for a snowy evening!

Debra
Debra
3 years 6 months ago

Do you have the recipe with some leaner meats? Like fish, poultry?

Don
Don
2 years 11 months ago

Have been trying to figure out a way to make a good primal cassoulet. I think I just found it! As much as I enjoy the pictures accompanying the recipes, I am wondering if you could provide a way to print the recipes without pictures? Save a tree, etc.

Steve
Steve
1 year 8 months ago

Amazing recipe! I used a bit too much tomato paste, and I cheated and used panko instead of cauliflower rice at the end because I seriously dislike cauliflower rice, though it probably would have worked here. (I think toasted quinoa, finely chopped hazelnuts, or gluten-free bread crumbs would work just as well.) The rutabaga was brilliant and a perfect substitute for the beans usually found in this dish.

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