Lentil Cassoulet and a Giveaway

January 7th, 2010

It doesn’t seem possible but my blog is one year old tomorrow! Last January I started writing it after spending a year reading other people’s food blogs. I decided that I wanted to be a part of this supportive community of fellow foodies. I haven’t been disappointed. You have all been fun to get to know and I can’t imagine my life without this connection. Even my very first post received a comment from my long ago cooking teacher and inspiration, Irena Chalmers. What a boost that was to my morale. My dear son, Michael, also supported my first efforts and my daughter-in-law Kristen has become a contributor to this space, as she is also an excellent cook.

Another one of my inspirations has always been Julia Child who started the cooking revolution and sparked my interest from the very beginning. So in honor of my bloggiversary I made her Lentilles garnies; lentilles en cassoulet, found in From Julia Child’s Kitchen.

This dish is brilliant. Cassoulets usually take hours to cook and involve many cuts of meat and layering of flavors. This dish can be done in much less time. I used only sausages in the dish. Also, lentils cook much faster than dried white beans. The recipe is brilliant because she extracted so much flavor from it by mellowing it in wine and a mirepoix of vegetables and a reduction of the meat juices. It was hardy and filling on a cold blustery day. David, my in house supporter, fixed his sourdough baguettes on the hearth grill to go along with it.
LENTIL CASSOULET (From Julia Child’s Kitchen)

Given a preliminary blanching, a simmering with wine and seasonings, then a topping of pork or sausages, lentils make a wonderful main dish. Serve with French bread, a green salad, and a strong young red wine such as Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone, or Mountain Red
2 cups of washed lentils ( I used a 1 1b. bag )
6 cups water
2 1/2 to 3 lbs. meat cut into serving chunks: homemade or Italian or Polish sausages and /or pork shoulder butt, ham, country spareribs, or lamb shoulder. ( I used a combination of sausages )
About 2/3 cup mirepoix (1/2 cup each finely diced carrot, onion, and celery cooked until tender in 3 Tbs butter or oil), in a medium saucepan
3 Tb butter
1/2 cup red or white wine ( I used red )
1 1/2 cups ham stock or beef broth ( I used beef broth )
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp thyme or oregano
Salt and pepper
3 Tb minced shallots or scallions
3 Tb minced parsley
1/4 cup fresh white bread crumbs ( I used Panko crumbs )
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place the washed lentils in a 3 quart saucepan, and add the water and bring to just below the simmer. Maintain at just below the simmer for 30 minutes, adding a little boiling water if necessary, until lentils are barely tender. Meanwhile, dry the chunks of meat in paper towels, spread in a roasting pan, and brown in the upper middle level of preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, turning the meat and basting occasionally with accumulated fat and juices in the pan. Prepare the mirepoix also, and when done, blend in the flour, cook slowly, stirring, for 2 minutes, and remove from heat; beat in the wine, then the stock and simmer 5 minutes, add the herbs to this sauce, and correct seasonings.
Choose a baking dish such as a 9″ by 12″ oval 2″ deep, and butter it lightly. Fold the lentils and sauce together, and spread in the baking dish. Arrange the browned meat on top, pushing the pieces into the lentils. Pour fat from roasting pan into a small bowl, and deglaze pan with a little wine or broth (pour in the liquid, set over heat, and scrape coagulated meat juices into liquid with a wooden spoon, boiling rapidly until liquid is syrupy); pour over the meat. Season meat lightly with salt and pepper; sprinkle the shallots or scallions, parsley, and bread crumbs over all. Baste with 2 spoonfuls of fat reserved from the roasting pan.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake for about 40 minutes until sauce is thick and bubbling hot, and crumbs are nicely browned.

Now for the giveaway. Because I appreciate all of you so much. I am giving one lucky winner a copy of My Life in France by Julia Child with Alex Prud’homme.

This was the book that was consulted for Julia’s part of the movie “Julie and Julia” and chronicles Julia’s life from the time she arrived in France and had her first food epiphany over Sole Meuniere.
All you have to do to win is leave a comment telling me what your food epiphany was or what your favorite food is. I will select a winner the old fashioned way by putting all of your names in a hat and announce the winner on Monday Jan. 11th. You have until midnight Sunday Jan. 10th to enter.
Good luck and thank you. I wish I could give every one of you a book. Just know that I appreciate all of you and couldn’t do what I love so much without you.

40 responses to “Lentil Cassoulet and a Giveaway”

  1. Congrats on a year of blogging! I’ve enjoyed visting you!

  2. Oh, that recipe sounds wonderful, especially in this cold weather we are having. It is suppose to snow again today. Are you still here or back in Florida?

    Happy Blog Anniversary! I am so glad we met, both through blogging and in person. I hope that next summer when you are here we are able to spend a little more time together. Hopefully all of my remodeling will be done by then!

    It seems I am always having food epithanies! Just this past December for dessert I was served some wonderful English Stilton with a vintage Port….I though I had died and gone to heaven!

  3. JoAnn says:

    Happy Anniversary on your blog! I’ve enjoyed your recipes very much.

    My favorite food, huh? Garlic stuffed tenderloin ranks right up there, with a good glass of wine, of course.

    I recently watched Julia & Julie and absolutely loved it! I really want to get her cookbook. I hope there are some things in there I can make, but if not, I’m sure I’ll learn a lot just from reading it. Your book giveaway would be a nice addition also.

  4. ARLENE says:

    Happy Blogaversary and what a sensuous dish this is. I love the ideas of lentils instead of cannellini. I’d love to win a copy of Julia’s book. My food epiphany would have to be when I discovered the pleasures of “roasting mozzarella” on a fork over my mom’s gas stove. Messy, yes. Incredible, oh, so!

  5. Anncoo says:

    Happy Blog Anniversary! Love all your posts!

  6. Lyla says:

    My mother and I had a very difficult, painful relationship at the end of her life. However, besides her great zest for living and love of reading, she left me her fabulous vegetable soup. When I cook it on cold winter days, I have the best of my mother wafting through my kitchen. The soup has erased the bad times and kept close all that was good about my mother.

  7. My favorite food, right now, is traditional potato soup. It reminds me of the long winters growing up. Thanks for the give away!!!

  8. This looks like a terrific recipe. I love that it’s pretty much a meal in one.
    What a great giveaway! My food epiphany was eating organic dry farmed tomatoes from the San Francisco farmer’s market. I didn’t know fresh produce could be so sweet, delicious and perfect in its natural form. Now I spend most of my days seeking the best ingredients possible.

  9. Mary says:

    Happy, almost, Bloggiversary. I had forgotten about this recipe until this minute. I’ll have to revisit it. Because I was raised surrounded by good cooks, it really is hard to identify an epiphany. I guess I’ll go with French Onion soup. If ever you’ve tasted the real thing it’s hard to take what’s called onion soup in most restaurants.

  10. Oh Penny, I was thinking the other day that it must be just about a year since you began writing your wonderful posts. Congratulations, and many more posts and years to come. I’ve already told you, I believe, how you put me to shame — i’m lucky if I post every couple of weeks. And you’ve done absolute wonders in networking. Perhaps I’ll make that my new years resolution… You are an inspiration!

  11. Barbara says:

    Delicious cassoulet! I’ve always used lamb in combination with other meats. It’s such a hearty dish…and smells divine while cooking! Have not seen her recipe and will copy it now.
    I just finished reading the giveaway book! I loved it and was surprised at the number of things they got wrong in the movie. Such as where and how they lived when they first got to France and no mention in the book about bridge or making hats. I also gives you another side of Julia.

  12. Karen says:

    Happy Blogoversary! This cassoulet screams comfort food!

  13. Susan says:

    pblog anniversary. I quietly passed mine in October. I love the cassoulet with lentils. Lentils are a very favorite food of mine, but a good Caesar salad and fresh crackling bread has to be on the top of my list of favorites. I would love to read this book. I also need to rent the movie since I missed it when it came out. Have always loved Julia! In fact, just this past weekend, we watched PBS Jacque and Julia. So much fun to watch and hear then canter back and forth.

  14. Happy anniversary. I am rarely humbled when flouting around looking in on others efforts, but you are obviously a cut above. i so appreciate your blog. I am challenged when i visit, which i really appreciate.

    My epiphany… I spent $250 for a meal for just my wife and I, and left hungry. I decided it would take time, but eventually, I could do that better and cheaper.

  15. I love Italian food. The thing I will gravitate toawrds is veggie rotolo or shells stuffed with spinach and ricotta cheese with marinara sauce.
    msgb245 at gmail dot com

  16. Rosabela says:

    Happy bloggiversary!! It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year already. Time flies when you’re having fun. 😉

    Your cassoulet looks and sounds perfect for the cold winter day! I love Julia Child but I admit that I haven’t tried any of her recipes yet. I want to get two of her cookbooks but if I buy another cookbook my husband won’t be too happy about it (but I can always look online hehehe).

    I can’t really think of a food epiphany but I can tell you that my favourite food is the Bavarian Leberkäse. I can’t get enough of it.

    If my name gets drawn (which is not likely to happen – I never win at anything LOL) would you ship to Germany? If not, it didn’t hurt to ask. 🙂

    Congrats again and thank YOU for sharing your wonderful recipes and expertise.

  17. mindy says:

    i love french onion soup especially in the winter thanks minsthins at optonline dot net

  18. Penny says:

    Rosabela, I would send you anything! Yes, if you win, the book will come to you.

  19. cdziuba says:

    I absolutely love rustic pizza, ddep dish pizza, authentic Italian pizza, basically all types of pizza. cdziuba@aol.com

  20. Farmgirl Cyn says:

    I do love reading your blog, but please leave my name out of the drawing….I already own the book, and it was SO very interesting!

  21. Mary says:

    I love food period but I’m finding as I get older, I enjoy more meals made from scratch and not just the quick fix.


  22. Penny, I love this type of meal ~ the flavors meld together, so well and this recipe is one of my favorites.

    As for my favorite food: the incredible edible egg! Poached, scrambled, fried or hard-boiled ~ it is always a great, easy “go-to” food. Thanks for your generous giveaway.

  23. alexandrea says:

    I’d love to read this!!! My food epiphany was that at the age of 16, nobody was going to cook dinner for me and that top ramen was amazingly versatile.
    I went on to culinary school and had many more, but that was a life changing time for me food wise!

  24. Happy Blogaversary! The dish looks delicious! My favorite food epiphany was dating in college and being taken out to a nice restaurant. It was a far cry from the Elk’s lodge Friday night meal out I grew up on! 🙂

    I would love to win the book; it is on my wish list.

  25. LittleEagle says:

    My finest meal was at Prime Steakhouse in the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. On our honeymoon we treated ourselves to Kobe beef and a very fine bottle of wine.

  26. Happy blog anniversary/birthday. Do you realize how many blogs don’t make it to the one year mark? A fitting and lovely giveaway. I’ve so enjoyed getting to know you and I love all of your recipes.

    A lentil cassoulet sounds wonderful for our cold weather, even here in Florida. Leave it to Julia to come up with it.

    My best meal was each year on my birthday we went to the Warwick Club in Houston, Texas overlooking the Mecom fountains. It was when things were prepared table-side and I always ordered a Caesar salad (so much fun to watch them carefully add the eggs, anchovies, romaine) and a dry martini up. Then I had whatever veal dish they were featuring for the evening – had to be veal – usually Veal Marsala. We always ended the evening at the intimate piano bar with a brandy and then I floated down in the glass elevator overlooking Rice University on the way down to the car. A nod from my husband and magically our car appeared and I was whisked home.

  27. Rosabela says:

    Thanks, Penny!

  28. Delicious! And I love the rack in the hearth, awesome!
    I have this book so don’t worry about me..
    Happy blogoversary!

  29. Katy ~ says:

    Don’t you just love Julia? And this recipe sounds dee-lish. So nourishing and filling.

    My epiphany? That food doesn’t have to be complicated to be GOOD!!

  30. Bonnie M. says:

    My favorite food? This is going to sound goofy but the macaroni and cheese that my friend makes. It’s not just any old mac and cheese, she makes it from scratch and puts some sort of miracle ingredients in it and the results are amazing. 🙂

  31. Jessica says:

    My favorite food has been and always will be spaghetti. I know it’s nothing fancy, but I love it!

    sundaygirl at gmail dot com

  32. Just found your blog via Cote de Texas. I just discovered lentils, if you can believe that (I’m 43!). But, I just tried to emulate a wonderful lentil soup I had on New Years Eve and it didn’t quite make the cut, but it was still yummy and I had it for days! I’m on a mission now to find a better lentil soup recipe (I got mine out of a soup cookbook I have). If you know of a good recipe, let me know (without red meat preferably). My favorite food is shrimp. I love it…by itself with cocktail sauce, in sautees, in creamy sauces, you name it! I love it. Happy New Year!

  33. Happy Bloggiversary! You are awesome, Penny – an inspiration to us all!

  34. Mia J. says:

    Happy Blogiversary! The food I like is calamari with a unique dipping sauce.

  35. katiez says:

    Am I too late? I always seem to be too late….
    I love the lentil cassoulet. I picked up some nice, fat Toulouse sausages I can use in this. It looks and sounds delicious.
    Food epiphany? When I was in college my girlfriend and I use to clean the house for two guys every Sunday in exchange for a good meal – which we had to also cook (Hmmmmm) Anyway, one week it was Cornish Game Hens, which small-town me had never seen before. A cook was born.

  36. katiez says:

    Forgot – Happy Blogaversary

  37. kakihara says:

    Happy Blogaversary!! I just watched that movie last night it was ok but the parts about Julia Child were amazing they left me wanting to know so much more about her–I have always wanted to read this book–I’m just easily sidetracked. Thanks for the chance to win a classic.

  38. Sook says:

    Happy Anniversary on your blog! The meal looks hearty and delicious, too.

  39. Happy Anniversary on your blog!

    My favorite meal is the «Pâté chinois». So gooood and simple to cook!

  40. Holly says:

    As a young girl I made a whole from scratch meal, instead of the usual cookies I was used to making. What a great feeling of satisfaction it gave me! I fell so in love with experimenting with different recipes that is still with me today. (I’m 76)

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