I cannot, for the life of me, stand the sight of turkey any more. We were meant to take a Tupperware packed with shreds of it home with us when we left Beacon yesterday, but forgot it in the fridge. Honestly, it was a relief. I think I've come quite far in battling my aversion to leftovers, but progress has its limits. Four meals in a row is plenty, wouldn't you say?
But in case you aren't entirely over turkey yourself yet, or if you'd like to know the best way I transformed leftovers into a new meal, this post is for you. It was my turn at lunchtime on Saturday to make a meal for the assembled members of Ben's family gathered upstate to celebrate Thanksgiving. I'd had this recipe from Amy knocking around in my files for years, faithfully toting it with me each year to Thanksgiving, but never actually using it. Finally, this year, the recipe had its star turn.
Well, a version of it anyway. If Amy calls this Quick Cassoulet, then I'll call what I did on Saturday Speediest Cassoulet. Or Cassoulet Vite Vite, perhaps. Any suggestions? Instead of starting with dried beans, I bought canned beans (pinto, because I love them, but Amy says you should use cannellini or Great Northern). Instead of uncooked sausage, I used cooked chicken sausage, because it's all we had in the fridge. I used more tomatoes and less chicken stock than she did and I cut a bit off the time here and there.
What resulted was lovely: a garlicky, juicy stew that filled the house with Mediterranean fragrances, most welcome after a few days of Puritan cooking. The velvety beans, bright tomatoes, and aromatic herbs livened up the turkey and the crunchy bread crumb crust was delicious. It is one of my personal kitchen goals to make a real cassoulet one day, complete with Tarbais beans and Toulouse sausage and seven hours in the oven, or whatever it takes, but I'm quite pleased with my first foray into cassoulet cooking.
And it got rid of at least two whole cups of leftover turkey meat, which was truly great.
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 pound uncooked sausage, in individual links (use garlic, Toulouse sausage or mild Italian)
1 large onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
7 garlic cloves, minced, divided
1 bouquet garni (1 bay leaf, 2 sprigs thyme, 1 stem parsley, 2 whole sprigs fresh sage)
1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes, including juice
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups stale white bread, cut into cubes
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
2 cups roast turkey, preferably dark meat, skin removed
1. Place the dried beans, if using, in a large pot with enough water to cover by about 2 inches. Bring the beans to a boil, take them off the heat and let sit for an hour. Drain and set aside. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large braising pot with a lid, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and then add the sausage, browning it on all sides over medium-high heat, about 10 minutes. Remove the sausage from the pot and set aside. Into the same pot with the fat remaining from the sausages, add the onions and carrots. Cook them until soft, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pan, about 4 to 5 minutes.
3. Add 6 cloves minced garlic, the bouquet garni, tomatoes with juice, drained beans (dried or canned), chicken stock, salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Lay the sausages on the top, cover with the lid and cook in the oven for 1 1/2 hours (just 45 minutes to an hour if your beans are canned).
4. In a food processor, pulse the stale bread until you have fine crumbs; add the remaining minced garlic, the parsley and 1 tablespoon olive oil and pulse until combined. Set aside.
5. Remove the cassoulet from the oven and arrange the turkey alongside the sausages, pressing in slightly with a spoon. Add a little stock to cover the beans, if needed. Spread the bread crumb mixture on top. Cook uncovered for 30 minutes; the crust should be golden and bubbly.