04 December 2022

Pas du tout décus

We were not disappointed by the cassoulet-in-a-can. Here's what it looked like when I opened the boîte de conserve ("can" or "tin"). The combination of duck fat and bean broth the beans and meats had cooked in was completely congealed, because we had kept the tin in our downstairs pantry (un cellier), which is not heated, for 2 or 3 days.

I've faced this problem before. Not just cassoulet but also cooked cuisses de canard confites are sold in big tins like this one, and I buy those sometimes. If you dig into the congealed contents with a big spoon, you will likely break up a lot of the beans or duck legs. That won't look too good. In the past, I've tried opening cans like this and slowly heating them up in the oven. But then the can can get too hot to handle. This time, I set a cast-iron skillet on one of the burners on our induction stove and poured into it about an inch of water. Then I carefully set the cold can in the water and turned the burner on low heat. And I waited. When the contents looked melted and felt warm, I poured the cassoulet into a baking dish. That worked perfectly. The contents poured right out and I didn't burn myself.

And here's what the cassoulet looked like in the baking dish. There were four pieces of duck wing and four small saucisses de Toulouse mixed in with the cooked lingot white beans.That's four servings and we ate half of the contents of the tin for lunch, and followed that with an escarole and red beet salad.

To make the cassoulet more pleasing to the eye, I think there are two solutions. One would be just to set the pan in a 180ºC (350ºF) oven and let the top layer turn a golden brown before serving it. The other option is to sprinkle over the surface some bread crumbs moistened with duck fat and a little bean broth before putting the dish into the oven. Above is the result we got using the bread crumb method, which is traditional in southwestern France.


  1. I ever only had Cassoulet once while in France, in a private home and cooked by the host. A marvel really. Saw it many times in jars and cans, but having childhood food trauma from Ravioli in a can, I never bought it canned.

  2. I understand that trauma. But beans in cans are very good. The only objectionable ingredient in them imight be salt. The cassoulet beans in a can are delicious. I prefer to cook dried beans when I have the time, with seasonings I like. but the canned ones are good too.

  3. This looks very good. I might have to make room in my luggage to bring a can home.

  4. My husband liked la Belle Chaurienne, also made in Castelnaudary. We always had a can on hand for those times when we got home really late, and we didn't want to cook. We also put breadcrumbs on it, but for the real cassoulet, the crust is formed by the ingredients bubbling away, and is broken and incorporated seven times. Local butchers make cassoulets, in the cassoles, ready to pop into the oven to reheat. You can either keep the cassole, or return it (washed), and get your deposit back. And there are quite a few options at the market or fancy food stores for cassoulet in jars (a step up from cans...more homemade). But of course, the best were the ones made by our friends in the village, who spent days preparing them. No more for me--I went vegetarian several years ago in support of our kid.

  5. This looks quite good. Canned food in France is a different thing than in the US it appears.

  6. I like the idea of breadcrumbs. Wish I were coming to France again to pick up a can to bring home.


What's on your mind? Qu'avez-vous à me dire ?