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Wednesday Food: Cassoulet and Quiet

Growing season in Chicago is very, very dormant.  These weeks buried in the middle of winter are good for little other than catching up on reading, eating meat (or seitan, I guess), and blowing through It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia— and that second bottle of Bigfoot.  In terms of food, these are epic days for pot pies, casseroles, roasts, mac and cheese, and my new favorite– cassoulet.

The week before Christmas I had an inspirational cassoulet with pork belly and duck confit, at Bistro Campagne .  I followed that inspiration to the recently translated French tome, I Know How to Cook (Je sais cuisuiner) by Ginette Mathiot.  The cassoulet recipe is classic, featuring Toulouse sausage, goose fat, and duck confit (substitutions can be made if you can’t find/ afford duck).  Preparation is fairly simple but cooking time is long, as the rich and smoky flavors of the dish develop during a two-hour visit with the oven.  It’s a dish that would be beautifully matched in strength by Alaskan Brewing’s Smoked Porter or something sweeter like Rogue’s HazelNut Brown Nectar.

Homebrew update-

Imperial Pale Ale has been bottled!  After two consistent days of gravity readings I calculated the abv at around 9.4%.  Somehow my beer is more concentrated than expected, as the projected abv is 8-8.5%  Well, the higher, the merrier ? !


January 13, 2010 - Posted by | Wednesday Food


  1. Um, a quick recipe would be nice!!! Wish I had some right now, though the past week of 75 degree weather in SD doesn’t quite leave me with the same stewy hankerings…..enjoy for the both of us.

    Comment by Vanessa | January 13, 2010

  2. It’s still unclear to me how French people remain so skinny.

    Comment by Adam Kotsko | January 13, 2010

  3. I read something that said flexing various muscles while sitting is VERY French. I’m sure that’s not the sole reason, but I think it’s a pretty big departure from most people I’ve seen on a bus.

    Comment by mattintoledo | January 13, 2010

  4. There’s a book about that, Adam. I haven’t read it, so I can’t answer your questions, but I understand it’s to be made into a film starring Hilary Swank in the near future.

    Comment by jms | January 13, 2010

  5. French dudes walk several miles each way to buy an artichoke or a fig, that’s how.

    Comment by ben | January 14, 2010

  6. Portion size is everything.

    Comment by ebolden | January 14, 2010

  7. Wine not beer is the essential drink (you can drip a bit into the juices and soak it up with bread, mmmm).

    Wine makes you less fat than beer, they drink no soda, don’t snack, have a culture of restraint, etc etc etc

    Comment by Gabe | January 14, 2010

  8. Exactly how does wine make you less fat than beer?

    Comment by ebolden | January 14, 2010

  9. Wine contains fewer calories per unit alcohol than does beer.

    Comment by ben | January 14, 2010

  10. Culture of restraint my ass. Bolden and I both lived there for a time and I think she will back me up when I say, they eat plenty throughout the day. I lost about 15lbs when I lived there and I remember it as the time when I ate and drank (and was drunk) constantly. Maybe it was the walking. Or some kind of French magic.

    Comment by Anthony Paul Smith | January 14, 2010

  11. First of all, the crazy calorie talk is very obviously contingent on what you are drinking. Wine and beer both vary a huge amount in calories, like that corn-based light beer may very well be under 100 calories, whereas Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA has about 450 calories in 12 oz. It is also 20% abv. So if we’re going to go at it about whether you are sipping a few more calories for a good beer than a glass of wine, consider this my concession speech. Though I’ll add that all the vitamin B, soluble fiber, and bone density minerals you are getting in beer are absent in that glass of wine.

    Secondly, walking and moderation are key. Rather than switching from beer to wine, consider walking to the liquor store. The French family I lived with would happily indulge in fatty, rich foods, but the following days would consist of leafy greens and yogurt. Not that we should discount French magic.

    Comment by ebolden | January 14, 2010

  12. This blog makes me so punchy.

    Comment by ebolden | January 14, 2010

  13. The French family I lived with pretty much just indulged in fatty, rich foods with a salad and lots of wine. I can’t explain it other than I walked a lot.

    Comment by Anthony Paul Smith | January 14, 2010

  14. God, that was a good time.

    Comment by Anthony Paul Smith | January 14, 2010

  15. I think part of it has to do with the lack of processed foods, et al, especially relative to American culture. But probably a good bit has to do with the walking. Obviously England’s food is nowhere near as good as France’s, but there are still tons of good places to eat in Oxford, including French restaurants. I ate really well for what I could afford while there, and also was at the pub around 4 times a week. But I also lost a bit of weight. I walked for at least an hour or an hour and a half round trip almost every day.

    Comment by Dave Mesing | January 14, 2010

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