RGE RD whole hog cassoulet

Warm up with a hot and bubbly cassoulet made with nose-to-tail pig parts

There are many steps to this classic dish, but the reward is oh so rewarding.

2 lb pork belly, rind off
1/2 cup mirepoix, mixture of diced carrots, onions and celery
1 cup dried great Northern beans, soaked and drained
2 ham hocks
4 cups water
4 cups chicken stock
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 cloves garlic, one clove chopped
1/3 lb bacon, diced medium
1/4 cup carrot, diced small
1/4 cup onion, diced small
1 cup peeled whole tomatoes
12 pork jowl sausage
1 pork heart, optional
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tbsp canola oil

In a braising pan over medium heat, sear pork belly while rendering some fat. Remove, set aside.

Preheat over to 325 F.

In rendered fat remaining in braising plan, sauté mirepoix until browned. Add beans, pork belly and ham hocks back into pan with mirepoix. Pour water and enough chicken stock into pan to cover 3/4 of the belly, add in 1 sprig of fresh thyme and 1 (unchopped) clove of garlic. Once liquid reaches a simmer, cover and finish braising for 2 hours or until tender.

Once tender, remove and cool. Increase oven heat to 500 F. Cut pork belly into 6 equal square pieces. Pull meat off ham hocks and discard skin and bones. Reserve meat from ham hocks.

Strain and reserve beans and liquid, discard mirepoix and thyme stem.

Add bacon to pot and begin to render, then turn up heat and saute small diced carrot, onion and chopped garlic. Return beans to the pan with 2 cups of liquid/chicken stock and tomatoes. Bring to a simmer. Add ham hock meat and continue to cook until beans are soft and liquid has thickened.

In separate pan, brown the top of pork belly, and remove. Brown the sausages, remove, then sear pork heart, if using.

Season bean mixture with salt and pepper to taste (add more stock if necessary). Nestle pork belly and pork jowl sausages in beans, bake for 15-20 minutes or until sausages are fully cooked. Remove, add thinly sliced pork heart to cassoulet and bake another 3 minutes. Sprinkle the top with chopped fresh parsley and canola oil.

6 servings