Boerewors Cassoulet: A French approach to beans and sausage in South Africa.
- 1 cutting board
- 1 knife
- 1 wooden spoon
- 1 pot
- 1 colander
- 1 bowl that fits under the colander
- 1 shallow oven-safe pan (this can also be a potjie or cast iron pan)
- 1 yellow onions quartered
- 1/2 bulb garlic peeled and left whole
- 1 cup dried great northern beans
- 2 bay leaves
- 10 sprigs rosemary whole approximately
- 25 sprigs thyme whole approximately
- 4 cups chicken or veg stock
- 1 tbsp salt
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 yellow onions sliced
- 1/2 bulb garlic minced
- 1 kilo Boerewors
- 1 tbsp rosemary minced
- 1 tbsp thyme minced
- 2 carrots cubed
- salt and pepper to taste
Preparation for great northern beans
- Soak beans in cold water overnight.
- Drain and rinse.
- Add beans and aromatics: 1 onion quartered, 4 cloves whole garlic, bay leaves, 2 whole sprigs rosemary, 5 whole sprigs thyme, salt, and water to a boil in a large pot.
- Reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered for 45 minutes to 2 hours until beans are cooked through.
- Drain and KEEP the bean liquid, and discard the aromatics.
- Pre-heat oven to 200?
- Heat olive oil in pan over medium-high heat.
- Add sliced onions and saute until they are browned and starting to get caramelized- roughly 25 minutes.
- Add minced garlic and cook for 1 minute.
- Add boerewors into pan and brown on all sides.
- Add the cooked beans, minced rosemary, minced thyme, cubed carrots, salt, and pepper. Pour enough bean liquid to come to the top of the pan without covering the beans and sausage.
- Remove from stove and place in the pre-heated oven.
- Bake covered for 25 minutes.
- Season to taste and serve with crusty bread.
- Cook beans as above in potjie or cast iron pot over the fire.
- Drag out the hot coals from the fire and set your potjie on top.
- Follow the remaining instructions.
- Close the lid to your potjie to allow the liquids to circulate and let rest over hot coals for roughly 25 minutes.
The Inspiration for Boerewors Cassoulet
This boerewors cassoulet is a classic French recipe featuring local South African sausages. This hearty white bean and sausage stew is comforting and easy to cook with make-ahead ingredients. Traditional cassoulet comprises of beans and meat and utilizes the local meats available including goose, pork, lamb, or mutton. This also changes depending on where in France you are.
Throughout southern Africa, Boerewors, Afrikaans for “farmer’s sausage” is a staple meat choice and readily available. The sausage rests atop the beans and juices rather than swimming in sauce. Serve with a crusty baguette or sourdough to soak up the flavorful liquid and pair it with a generous glass of local Shiraz.
Thyme, rosemary, bay leaf, and garlic are cornerstone aromatics in French cooking and flavor both the bean stock and the cassoulet itself. Boerewors is often beef, pork, and/or lamb and seasoned with herbs and clove, allspice, coriander, and nutmeg, giving this dish a little more complexity. It is common to find boerewors seasoned with dhania (coriander) and chili, while this is also a delicious style of sausage it doesn’t balance as well with the thyme and rosemary.
Shallow cast iron or earthenware casserole dishes are preferred when baking a Cassoulet. While traveling I have to use what’s on hand- in this case an oven-proof skillet. You can adapt this recipe to cooking in a potjie or a cast iron pot over the fire. This recipe has minimal refrigerated ingredients (the carrots and boerewors) and incorporates a lot of pantry ingredients such as dried beans, herbs, and staple foods (onion and garlic) making it ideal when packing a cooler box.
Notes About Traditional Cassoulet
Traditional cassoulet involves a lot of time in preparation – cooking off the beans and meats ahead of time and baking them off. Layer the beans and meats and bake in stages. Pour the bean liquid on top and as it bakes, it forms a crust on top. Crack the crust and add more bean liquid. This method is repeated several times until you are left with is a thick crust and a rich bean and meat mixture hidden underneath. If you are feeling ambititous and want to watch the master of French cooking here is Julia Child making cassoulet.
I have downsized most of my belongings since I started traveling full time six years ago, but I have always kept my cookbooks in my mom’s house. I asked her to send me this page while I was writting this post as an homage to the original chef that made French cooking accessible to all- Julia Child.
The more you know, the more you can create. There’s no end to imagination in the kitchen.Julia Child
**I never have this much time, kitchen utilities, or in South Africa, electricity, to do all of these steps so I have adapated this into a much quicker meal.
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