Traditional Cassoulet Recipe

Traditional Cassoulet Recipe

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Ideal for a special occasion, this recipe introduces you to what a traditional cassoulet should taste like. This would wow anyone, and offers warm, rich flavors in every bite.


  • 6 oz (170g) fresh pork skin with 1/4 inch (1/2 cm) fat attached
  • 1 lb (450g) boneless pork shoulder cut into 1 1/2 inch (3.75cm) cubes
  • 2 lbs (900g) rinsed dried Tarbais or cannellini beans
  • 1 unpeeled head of garlic plus 4 small peeled garlic cloves
  • 5 oz (140g) piece of pancetta
  • 1 chopped fresh plum tomato
  • 3 thinly sliced small carrots
  • 2 oz (55g) skinless salt pork
  • 2 fresh ham hocks
  • 5 oz (140g) piece of prosciutto
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) duck fat
  • 6 duck confit legs
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 quarts plus 2 cups (2.5 liters) chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup (30g) fresh breadcrumbs
  • Bouquet garni (4 parsley sprigs, 3 small celery ribs, 2 thyme sprigs and 1 bay leaf tied with string)
  • 2 diced onions
  • 1 lb (450g) French-style fresh pork sausages such as saucisses de Toulouse
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Put the pork shoulder and skin, as well as the ham hocks in a big dish and season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Put the beans in a bowl. Cover them with 3 inches (7.5cm) of water and soak those overnight too. The following day, put the salt pork and seasoned skin in a pan and cover with water. Bring to a boil then simmer over a medium heat for ½ hour or until the skin is supple. Drain and cool.
  3. Put the salt pork in the refrigerator. Cut the skin into 5 long pieces. Roll each one into a bundle and tie using string. Dry the pork shoulder cubes and ham hocks using paper towels. Heat the duck fat in a big, enameled, cast-iron casserole. Add ½ the pork cubes and cook over medium-high until light brown. Transfer to a place. Repeat with the rest of the pork cubes.
  4. Add the ham hocks to the casserole to brown them. Add the onion and carrot and cook over medium for 7 minutes, stirring often, or until the onions are golden. Stir in the pancetta and brown it. Add the garlic head, tomato and prosciutto and cook for a minute, stirring constantly.
  5. Add the pork skin bundles, bouquet garni, 2 quarts (2 liters) of the broth, browned pork and its juices. Bring to a boil.
  6. Cover the casserole dish and simmer for 1½ hours, stirring every now and then.
  7. Drain the beans. Put them in a pot and cover with water. Bring them to a boil then simmer for 3 minutes and drain. Add them to the casserole and simmer for 2 hours or until the beans are tender.
  8. Let the mixture cool, then refrigerate it overnight. Remove as much fat as you can from the casserole surface, reserving ¼ cup (60ml) of it.
  9. Bring the cassoulet back to room temperature.
  10. Pick out the pancetta, prosciutto and ham hocks.
  11. Cut the meat into bite-size pieces, discarding any gristle, skin or bone. Discard the bouquet garni.
  12. Pick out the head of garlic and pork skin bundles and reserve.
  13. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Bring the cassoulet to a simmer.
  14. Cut the salt pork into small pieces.
  15. Squeeze the cooked garlic cloves out of their skins into a food processor, then add the raw garlic cloves and salt pork. Process to make a smooth paste.
  16. Stir this paste into the cassoulet and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  17. Stir in all the cured and cooked meats.
  18. If you are making this 1, 2 or 3 days ahead, this is where you stop.
  19. Arrange the duck legs in a baking dish and roast for 15 minutes or until heated through. Cut the meat off the bones and cut the skin up. Discard the bones.
  20. Turn the oven down to 325°F (160°C). Unroll the pork skin bundles. Line a 5 quart earthenware casserole with the pork fat, putting the skin side facing down.
  21. Transfer half the cassoulet to the earthenware dish using a slotted spoon.
  22. Top with the duck confit then add the remaining cassoulet.
  23. Add the remaining 2 cups (1/2 litre) of broth to the liquid in the cast-iron casserole dish and add some salt and black pepper.
  24. Pour this liquid over the cassoulet and drizzle 2 tablespoons of the reserved skimmed-off fat on top.
  25. Bake for 1½ hours.
  26. Heat the vegetable oil in a skillet. Prick the sausages with a fork then add them to the hot oil. Cook until browned all over. Let them cool then cut into 3 inch pieces.
  27. Turn the oven down to 275°F (135°C) and stir in the skin which has formed on top of the cassoulet. Nestle in the sausage pieces and drizzle 2 tablespoons more of reserved fat on top.
  28. Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top and bake for another hour or until dark brown on top. Let it sit for 20 minutes before serving.


  • There are many cassoulet variations but most are based on pork and white beans. This cassoulet recipe includes French garlic sausages as well as duck confit.
  • There are quite a few ingredients in the ingredients list and a fair amount of steps to make it too, but this recipe is outstanding and sure to impress any dinner party gathering.
  • You can make this dish up to 3 days ahead if you like and refrigerate it until needed. To do this, follow the recipe up until the point where the duck confit legs are roasted. Bring the beans and ragout to room temperature before carrying on with the dish. Serve this amazing gourmet cassoulet with a tannic, hearty, French red wine.

    Photo Credit: Ewan M, on Flickr

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