This is a recipe that I tried to have ready for Kaytie when she got home from the Coast. (She's been working weekends away from home. It's very lonely here, and I have no excuse not to study. It sucks.) I did not have it ready when she got home. It was ready an hour and a half after she arrived. But it was good.
So, two weeks later, after Kaytie's next weekend on the Coast, I made it again, with a few alterations. This confused Kaytie - "I'm not sure why you'd want to make the same thing twice in a month." Well, I was perfecting it. (By the way, it was not ready on time, either.)
Making this may make you feel like a French chef. Because instead of calling it a casserole, we can call it a cassoulet, which is a nice way of saying white bean stew. Now, traditionally, a cassoulet would use confit. This doesn't, which makes it easier. Anyway, here's a recipe for some fancy pork and beans. It's based on a recipe from Cook's Illustrated.
Pork & White Bean 'Cassoulet'
1 lb dried white beans
2 ribs of celery, cut into 3-inch pieces
1 bay leaf
4-5 sprigs of fresh thyme
2-3 inches of fresh rosemary
1 lb fresh bratwurst
6 oz salt pork
1 lb pork tenderloin, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 medium carrots, diced
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs tomato paste
1/2 c dry white wine
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
4 c chicken broth
1 c cornbread crumbs
1/2 c chopped parsley
salt & pepper
a Dutch oven
Stir 2 1/2 Tbs salt into 10 cups warm water in a large pot. Dump the white beans in. Bring to a boil, and boil for 2 minutes. Cover, and let the beans soak for an hour. Drain & rinse the beans.
Move your oven rack to the bottom third of the oven, and preheat the oven to 300.
Make your bouquet garni: Wrap the celery, bay leaf, thyme, & rosemary in cheesecloth, and tie the bundle closed with string.
In a large saucepan, cover your sausages and salt pork with an inch of cold water. Bring to a boil, and boil for 5 minutes. Drain and let the sausages cool for a minute or two. (Save the salt pork!) Slice the sausage into 1-inch pieces.
In a Dutch oven, over medium-high heat, brown the sausage on all sides in about a Tbs of olive oil. Set the sausage aside.
Brown the pork chunks on all sides. This should take about 5 minutes.
Add the onions & carrots. Stir constantly until the onion is translucent. This will take about 2-3 minutes.
Add the garlic & tomato paste. Stir for about a minute.
Add the sausage, and stir everything together. Add the wine to deglaze the pan. Use a wooden spoon to scrape any crusty bits off the bottom of the pan. Cook for a minute to reduce the wine a little.
Stir in the tomatoes, bouquet garni, and salt pork. Add the white beans and chicken broth. If any of the beans are above the level of the liquid, add a little water.
Increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Cover, and put it in the oven for an hour and a half.
Remove the bouquet garni and salt pork. Season the stew with salt and pepper.
Increase the oven temperature to 350, and bake uncovered for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, mix the cornbread crumbs and parlsey with a couple Tbs of olive oil. Season with a little salt & pepper.
Sprinkle about half a cup of the crumb mixture over the top of the cassoulet. Bake covered for 15 minutes.
Uncover, and bake for 15 more minutes.
Sprinkle the rest of the cumbs over the top, and bake for about 30 minutes, until the crumbs are a golden brown. (If you get impatient, or if your wife gets home earlier than you expected, you can turn on the broiler to brown the crumbs. Just keep an eye on it, so they don't burn.)
Let it rest for 15 minutes, and enjoy.