Classic Cassoulet

Classic Cassoulet


  • 4 cups Great Northern, or other small white beans                              
  • 4 ham hocks
  • 3 yellow onions, peeled and quartered
  • 8 thyme, sprigs
  • Salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1/4 lb. bacon, diced
  • 1 ham bone
  • 3/4 lb. pork butt, cubes
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp. duck fat or olive oil
  • 1 lb. pork sausage, cut into 2” pieces
  • 1 garlic head, cloves peeled
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Number of Servings : 8

Serving Size: ~2 cups


  1. Rinse beans thoroughly, pick through, and discard broken beans, stones, or other foreign matter and then set beans aside.
  2. Place ham hocks in a large pot. Add 1 onion, thyme, and salt and pepper. Cover with water and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer, partially covered, for 2 hours.  Remove from heat, allow cooling for 15 minutes, and then drain ham hocks, discarding onion and thyme. Cut the meat from each hock into 2 pieces. Discard bones and extra fat and set meat aside.
  3. Meanwhile, place the diced bacon, ham bone, and 1 onion in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until bacon is rendered, about 15 minutes. Add cubed pork butt and brown slightly on all sides, about 10 minutes.
  4. Add tomato paste and stir to combine and cook for another 5 minutes.
  5. Add beans and enough water to cover by ½ inch (about 8 cups) and season with a small pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer, and then reduce heat to low and cook until beans are tender, about 45 minutes. Adjust salt, if necessary, and then set beans aside to cool.
  6. Heat duck fat in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausages and cook, turning to brown on all sides, for about 10 minutes. Place garlic, remaining onion, and ½ cup of water in a blender and purée until smooth. Add garlic paste to the sausages and reduce heat to medium low. Cook, turning sausages occasionally, for 10 minutes or more.
  7. Preheat oven to 350°F. Using a slotted spoon, remove and discard ham bone and onion from beans. Using a slotted spoon, transfer about half the beans with bacon to a heavy, wide-mouthed earthenware pot, about 4-inches high. Assemble the cassoulet in layers. Place the meat from the ham hocks on top of the pork and bean mixture and cover with the sausages and garlic paste. Spoon in the remaining beans with the pork rind. Add the reserved bean cooking liquid to just cover (about 3 cups). Bake, uncovered, until the cassoulet comes to a simmer and a crust begins to form, about 1 hour.
  8. Reduce heat to 250°F and cook for 2 hours, checking every hour or so to make sure cassoulet is barely simmering. If cassoulet appears dry, break crust (browned top layer) by gently pushing down with the back of a spoon, allowing a new layer of beans to rise to the surface. Add just enough reserved bean cooking liquid to moisten beans.
  9. Remove cassoulet from oven. Allow to cool completely, then cover with a lid or aluminum foil, and refrigerate overnight.
  10. Remove cassoulet from the fridge and allow to warm to room temperature for 45 minutes. Place in a preheated oven and bake for 1 hour. When cassoulet begins to simmer, break crust and add enough warm water just to cover beans. Reduce heat to low and bake, breaking crust and adding water as needed for 3 hours. Remove from oven and rest for 25 to 20 minutes. Serve cassoulet from the pot, breaking the crust at the table.

Note: French cassoulets are classic comfort foods. The long cooking process is critical for developing the rich depth of flavor. 

Recipes developed by The Culinary Institute of America as an industry service to the Northarvest Bean Growers Association.