Cassoulet

 
Published9/9/2009 12:01 AM

1 pound dried white beans

6 sprigs fresh thyme

 

4 bay leaves

8 black peppercorns

10 garlic cloves; 6 whole, 4 crushed

6 sprigs parsley

2 smoked ham hocks

1 pound uncooked garlic sausage, sliced in half-inch pieces

2 pounds lamb shoulder, cut in medium cubes

Salt and pepper

2-4 ounces olive oil

2 medium onions, diced

2 medium leeks, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 cup beef broth

Soak beans overnight in cold water.

Next day, tie the thyme, bay leaves, peppercorns, whole garlic cloves and parsley in a cheesecloth bundle. Drain beans; place in pot with 2 quarts cold water, the herb and garlic bundle and the ham hocks. Simmer the beans for 90 minutes or until almost cooked. Add the sausage, simmering until both are fully cooked, about 45 minutes.

Season the lamb with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a deep, heavy, ovenproof pan and brown the lamb. Add crushed garlic, onion and leeks to the pan and brown for 10 to 15 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook until it is incorporated into the lamb. Add the stock and bring to a simmer, covering and braising until the lamb is tender, about 45-60 minutes.

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Heat oven to 325 degrees.

Discard the herb bundle. Remove meat from ham hock, adding to the beans in bite-size pieces with the sausage. Add bean mixture to lamb with a slotted spoon. Add bean liquid as necessary; the dish should have the consistency of a rich stew. If you need still more liquid add more beef broth. Bake until hot and bubbly, about 60 minutes. Serve with crusty bread.

Serves four to six.

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