Today, I have a hearty winter stew recipe for you, and also a pot roast recipe submitted by a lovely reader – thank you Jodie! Cassoulet is traditional French peasant fare, which is mostly what we eat in our house. Ingredients grown by ourselves or neighbors, prepared simply, preferably in a single pot. Like all my favorite recipes, Cassoulet gets better as it sits, and it works well to make a big batch at once and eat the leftovers for a week, or freeze some for a night you don’t have time to make dinner. The traditional Cassoulet involves more steps and has a lot more meat in it, but even Julia Child herself admits that finding a “true” Casoulet is impossible – everyone’s is different, so here, dear friends, is mine.

Whole Grain Cassoulet

2 cups white beans (flageolet are traditional, Arikara, Navy, or Cannellini beans would work quite well)

1 cup barley, wheat berries, rye berries, or spelt berries

2 tbsp duck fat or bacon fat (olive oil would work, too)

1/2 pound spicy or garlic pork sausage

1/4 pound ham or bacon

1/4 pound duck confit (if you have it – optional!)

2 beef marrow bones

2 onions, peeled and chopped

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 cup tomatoes, chopped

1 tsp dried herbes de provence (or substite 1/2 tsp dried thyme and 1 bay leaf)

salt to taste

The night before, put your beans into a bowl and cover them with 4 cups cold water to soak. Put your grains into another bowl and cover them with 2 cups cold water to soak. In the morning, drain off the soaking water.

This dish can be prepared in a crock pot (start it in the morning), or in a large heavy-bottomed pot, like a Le Creuset. I’ve made it both ways, and they both work quite well. To begin, melt your fat in your pot and saute your sausage, ham, and duck (one at a time), just until they’re browned a bit on all sides. Remove them from the pot and set aside. Reserving the cooking fat and all those nice crispy bits (don’t pour them out!), add the beans and grains to your pot, and add 4 cups water. Add all remaining vegetables, seasonings, and meats.

Bring to a boil and then reduce them to a simmer, cook for 4-6 hours (this depends partly on how dry your beans are – please note CSA members, you may be able to reduce your cooking time since your beans are pretty fresh). Taste a bean to test for doneness – they should be completely cooked and soft. Season to taste with salt (it’s very important not to add your salt until the beans are completely tender.) Serve hot with a nice hunk of crusty bread and butter, and perhaps a glass of red wine. Bon Appetit!

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Jodie says: This is one of my whole grain recipes. Its also a great menu maker meal because it spans two days plus plenty of leftovers for the freezer. I serve it with whatever whole grain bread or cornbread I feel like making that day. it seems like a lot of effort but most of it is hands off so I find this to be a really easy meal.

Jodie’s Barley Pot Roast

Day 1

4-5 lb bone in chuck pot roast

1 tablespoon steak seasoning or just salt and pepper if you prefer

1 quart canned tomatoes with basil(or plain tomatoes and add a few basil leaves)

olive oil

1 large sliced onion

6 carrots cleaned and cut in 2 inch pieces

3 lbs potatoes scrubbed and cut into pieces

2 cups frozen green beans

2 bay leaves

Rub roast with seasoning, Heat olive oil in 5 quart dutch oven(you want it really hot) brown roast on all sides, add tomatoes, bay leaves and onions and cook on low heat for 4 hrs. Add carrots,potatoes, and green beans and simmer for 1 -2 more hours. Serve with bread for dinner. Put lid on leftovers and place in refrigerator.

Day 2 (about 1 1/2 to 2 hrs before you want to eat) The barley makes this a really thick, rich stew.

2 quarts water(you can use beef broth but I really didn’t find it necessary since the roast and bone cooked for 6 hrs the day before)

1 cup barley

2 cups frozen corn

Take pan from refrigerator and remove and discard congealed fat from top of meat and vegetables. Remove fat, bones and cartilage from roast. Chop and return to pan. Find and remove bay leaves Add 2 quarts water, barley and corn to pan. Bring to a boil stirring a lot as it tends to want to scorch at this point. Turn heat to low and cook for about an hour til barley is cooked. Serve with whole grain bread or I especially like this with cornbread.

Freeze leftovers in single serve containers for lunches.

There are six people in my family and this feeds everyone over 2 days and I always get leftovers. I used frozen veggies because it’s February but I use fresh when they’re available.

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