Cassoulet is a classic casserole from the south of France. It is slow cooked and my favourite has a crusty top. Achieving this in a slow cooker is a challenge but not totally impossible. It usually includes a duck, goose or wild bird confit. It almost always has white beans.
After combining all the ingredients, I cooked it for an hour with the lid on. I checked it and found it to be quite watery so I removed the lid for about an hour. This allowed the excess liquid to evaporate and make it thicker.
Most recipes call for a breadcrumb topping. These would soak up too much moisture in the slow cooker so I substituted grits. I thought they might plump up a little in the steam but they didn't. They made quite a nice crust on the top.
I found a couple of wild pheasants in my freezer. I am always saving special things for special occasions but I have saved these long enough and freezer burn will soon set in. I also came across cacciatore lardo that I purchased from Salt Food Boutique in Regina. All charcuterie and sausages are house made.
Pine View Farms naturally produced smokey bacon.
Pheasant Cassoulet in a Slow Cooker
1 pheasant, deboned and cut in cubes
1/4 lb. cacciatore lardo
2 slices smokey bacon
1/2 onion, roughly chopped
1 c. navy beans
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
2 bay leaves
2 c. pheasant stock
1/2 c. white grits
3 tomatoes, roughly chopped
Add the navy beans to a pressure cooker and fill pot halfway with cold water. Place lid on cooker and put on stove top on high heat. When full pressure has been reached reduce the heat to maintain the pressure and cook for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the pot cool naturally. Drain and discard cooking water. Add beans to slow cooker.
Meanwhile, prepare the pheasant, lardo and bacon. Brown lardo and bacon then add to slow cooker. Add pheasant to the same pan and when it is browned add onions and garlic. Continue to saute until the onions are soft. Add this to the slow cooker.
Add remainder of ingredients, except the grits, to the slow cooker. Stir to mix ingredients evenly. Sprinkle the grits on the top. Set the cooker on high heat for 4 hours and let it cook for about an hour before checking.
After about an hour open the lid and check how much liquid remains. If it is a lot, continue to cook for about an hour without the lid. This will thicken the cassoulet so that it is more like the traditional baked in an oven. Replace the lid and cook for another hour or until the pheasant is tender.
Serve with a green salad. Serves 8.