Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Cassoulet, Lake Style!

My friend Lake and I invented this dish together as a joke. We were playing a game of diplomacy, and I was France. The only French food I could think of to bring to snack on during this 8-hour game was brie... Hardly substantial! And not vegan, so Lake couldn't even have any :( So I suggested to Lake that we make a cassoulet, which is a French peasant stew made of duck, sausage, bacon, and beans. Seeing as three out of the four main ingredients were most decidedly non-vegan, it should have been a funny joke that ended there. But alas, I piqued Lake's curiosity, and he took my joke as a challenge. We ended up making cassoulet for the party by subbing vegan ingredients that he generally had on hand anyways! After a few tweaks, he optimized the recipe and posted it on his blog! It was his Mesomorph-Optimized Vegan Cassoulet Recipe that we used as the main dish for our 2010 Holiday Dinner.

I've re-typed the recipe here for easier scale-up & scale-down. For the holiday dinner, we increased the proportions by 50% and had plenty of leftovers! Clearly, this is a very large recipe, as it yields 22 servings!

Lake's Mesomorph-Optimized Vegan Cassoulet
2 carrots, sliced
1 can diced tomatoes (28 oz)
8 tablespoons avocado oil
4 boxes Lifelight Smart Bacon, with strips pre-separated and cut into 1-inch squares
4 cups diced onions
2 cans imitation duck (20oz total), w/liquid reserved
2 cans imitation chicken or 1.25 packages chicken-style seitan (20oz total), w/liquid reserved
6 cans cannellini beans (90oz total), drained
8 links Field Roast Italian Sausages, cut in half lengthwise, then in 1-in chunks
215 grams breadcrumbs
spices to taste; suggestion is a blend of equal parts herbs de provence, oregano, basil, & parsley

1. In a large pot or wok, add chopped carrots and diced tomatoes (including liquid) and heat to boiling and simmer until carrots are soft.

2. In a separate, large frying pan, add 8 Tbsp avocado oil and heat on high. Add cut & separated SmartBacon. Stir occasionally until about half of the squares just begin to blacken on the edges.

3. While Bacon is browning, add onions to the tomato/carrot mixture. Stir and allow onions to cook through. Add the reserved liquid from the imitation duck and imitation chicken. Stir once more and allow to continue on high heat. Remember to stir the pan-frying bacon periodically to prevent burning.

4. Dice the imitation duck and chicken into small chunks (1/2-in cubes) and stir into the simmering vegetable mixture. Add drained cannellini beans and stir again.

5. Once Smart Bacon is crisp and browned/blackened, transfer into the large vegetable/bean pot with tongs, leaving as much avocado oil in the frying pan as possible. Be careful of sputtering that may occur when transferring the hot bacon into the simmering liquid! If it becomes a problem, first transfer cooked bacon to a plate to allow to cool before transferring to bean & vegetable pot. Stir well.

6. Add Field Roast chunks to the retained oil and allow to pan-fry on high heat. Stir periodically until browned around the edges. Once sausage has browned, transfer entire contents of frying pan into the large pot. Again, be aware of sputtering; if the frying pan contents are too hot, allow to cool slightly before transferring into pot. Mix well and turn off heat.

7. In a separate bowl, mix 215 grams of carbohydrates in the form of breadcrumbs with spices to taste. The spices may be chosen on personal preference, but I suggest a mixture of equal parts herbes de provence, oregano, basil, and parsley. Use roughly four parts breadcrumbs to one part herb mixture by volume. Mix well.

8. Transfer individual portions into ramekins, or entire portion into casserole dish for serving. Top with breadcrumbs & spice mixture.

Yields 22 servings at 405 calories a serving.


Tina D said...

Where do you buy canned immitation duck? I have to admit, it's not something I've ever looked for before.

River said...

Hi Tina,

Sorry for the delayed response... I just now set up blogger to email me comments; I wasn't getting any notificatons before!

We buy the imitation duck from an Asian grocery store. It's hit or miss whether certain Asian markets sell them, but I know of at least 2 in Chicago that sells them. Lake, the creator of this dish actually discovered this product in Sheboygan, WI, so I don't think it's only available in large cities!

Hope this helps!