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Cassoulet

Cassoulet from Karista's Kitchen // A slow cooked French stew

Classic Cassoulet is a hearty slow-cooked dish originating in the south of France.  It’s often referred to as the “unofficial” national dish of France.

Traditionally, cassoulet includes what my Grandmother would refer to as “everything except the kitchen sink”.  Meaning that almost any meat, poultry, skin, gizzards, beans and whatever was available went into this succulent dish.

I’ve had a few truly authentic and amazing cassoulet’s in the past. All filled with decadent duck confit, pork skin, pork belly, mutton, sausages, fava beans and white beans. A meal so rich and lush, it’s everything you’d expect from a slow cooked French dish.

My cassoulet however is slightly less time-consuming, and not to worry, it doesn’t contain duck confit, mutton or pork belly. Although those ingredients are delicious in a cassoulet, I wanted to create this recipe to be simple, yet flavorful.

I also wanted this slow cooked stew to reflect the bounty of the Willamette Valley here in Oregon.  We’re so lucky to have an abundance of small farms and ranches nearby that raise grass-fed and pastured pigs, cattle and chickens. Not to mention all the gorgeous produce and fresh herbs.

I’ve included locally raised meat and poultry (chicken thighs, pork shoulder, sausages), white beans and lots of fresh herbs and aromatics.  You could also substitute with beef chuck roast, lamb or pork belly – and any type of sausages that you love.

This meal is perfect a la carte with a glass of French Burgundy or a Oregon Pinot Noir. It’s also quite lovely paired with a Salad Lyonnaise or Ratatouille, which I’ll get around to posting soon.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

Karista

Cassoulet

Serving Size: 6-8

Ingredients

  • 4-6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch or all-purpose flour
  • 2lbs boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1-2 inch cubes
  • 2-3 pork or beef sausages (I used my favorite German pork sausages)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 2 3-inch sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon of dried herbs de Provence
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 2-4 cups chicken broth, enough to just cover the meat
  • 2-3 15ounce cans white beans, drained (cannellini beans work best)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped Italian parsley

Instructions

In a Dutch oven or heavy bottom pot, heat about 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and then add them to the pot and brown on both sides. Transfer to a bowl or platter.

Next season the pork cubes with salt and pepper and then toss with the tablespoon of corn starch or flour. Add two more tablespoons of oil to the pot and brown the pork. You may need to brown the pork in batches, otherwise the pork won’t brown if the pot is over crowded. When the pork is browned, transfer to the bowl or platter with the chicken.

Next brown the sausages, adding additional oil if needed. Once the sausages are brown, transfer them to the bowl or platter with the chicken and pork.

Add another tablespoon of oil to the pot and then stir in the onions. Saute the onions until wilted and fragrant and then add the garlic and cook for one minute longer.

Stir in the ½ cup of white wine, scraping up all the brown bits at the bottom. Add the fresh thyme sprigs and dried herbs. Place the chicken thighs, pork cubes and sausages back into the pot and then add the chicken broth. Enough to cover the meat.

Turn the heat down to a simmer and cover with a lid. Let the meat simmer in the broth and veggies for about 30-45 minutes, or until the pork is tender.

Remove the lid and then stir in the beans and season to taste with salt and pepper. The longer this stew sits the more flavor it will develop. I like to make this the day before I’m serving it, however, if I make it the same day I’m going to serve it, I’ll make it several hours prior and then let it sit for about 30 minutes on the stove top before serving. If you feel the flavors need a little boost, sometimes a teaspoon of white wine vinegar will bring all the flavors together.

Serve in bowls with a drizzle of olive oil and fresh chopped Italian parsley and a basket of crusty French bread.

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Chicken Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly

Chicken Gaston Gerard

Chicken Gaston Gerard // French Chicken with Dijon, caramelized onions, paprika and creme fraiche // Karista's Kitchen for VRAI Magazine

Chicken Gaston Gerard… I love to say these words. Makes me feel as if I’m sitting in a cafe in Paris dining on decadent cuisine and sipping French wine.

Ahhh… but alas, I’m sitting in my upstairs office writing this little paragraph while sipping ginger tea that my sister in law sent me from Japan. Ha. Life’s crazy isn’t it?

Chicken Gaston Gerard may be familiar to many of you. I posted this gorgeous recipe years ago and I received such positive feedback and comments over the years, I thought it would be fun to share this lovely recipe in the February issue of VRAI Magazine.

If you haven’t made this recipe yet, head over to VRAI Magazine and snag it.  I promise you won’t be disappointed.  In fact, I think you’ll love it so much it might just become a regular on your dinner menu rotation.  While you’re over at VRAI Magazine, feel free to stay a while and browse the new recipes from all the fantastic food contributors.  I spotted a pink cocktail that is calling my name. 🙂

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

Karista

Chicken Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly

Chicken Gaston Gerard

Chicken Gaston Gerard, chicken breasts with sweet onion, paprika, Dijon and creme fraiche sauce topped with gruyere cheese

It feels as if I’ve won the lottery or at least discovered the next best chicken recipe of the year.

It’s an interesting story how I stumbled upon this delicious dish.  I was browsing a few of my vintage cookbooks and ran across a recipe that sounded simply divine.  The title was in French so I did a little internet research and discovered the dish had originated in Dijon, France.  What a coincidence!  My daughter has a lovely friend who lives in Dijon.

So of course I had to email Marion in Dijon and ask if her Mum knew anything about this recipe.  I was thrilled to get a reply email with her Mum’s family recipe for Chicken Gaston Gerard and the true history of the recipe.  Which for me is almost as much fun as the recipe itself.  I really do love the history of food!

According to history, the recipe was created in 1930 for Curnosky, by the Mayor of Dijon’s Wife, Madame Gaston Gerard. Since that time its become a standard recipe in Burgundian cooking.   Well, I can certainly understand why it stood the test of time.  It’s simple, fresh from the market delicious!

The recipe is prepared several methods; with shallots instead of the onions, with bone in chicken pieces or boneless chicken breast and thighs and typically with Gruyère cheese, although Comte is acceptable as well.   I’ve given substitutions for some of the ingredients just in case your market doesn’t carry a few specific ingredients.  As always, this recipe is best when prepared to your tastes.  Adding more or less of this or that is what it’s all about.

Many thanks to Stephanie Lecrigny and her lovely daughter Marion for this delightful French chicken recipe!

Keep dinner simple… Enjoy the flavors of life!

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

4-6 boneless skinless chicken breasts (feel free to substitute with fresh chicken pieces and adjust cooking times accordingly)

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons oil (safflower, sunflower or coconut oil work best)

Salt and pepper

1 small sweet onion, halved and sliced

½ teaspoon paprika

1 ½ cups dry white wine

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

½ – 3/4 cup Crème Fraiche (or sour cream if creme fraiche is unavailable)

½ – 1 cup shredded Gruyère Cheese or Comte (if Gruyere or Comte is unavailable, Parmesan will make a good substitution)

Directions

Pre-heat the oven to 350F.

Using a large skillet, add the butter and oil to the pan and heat on medium high.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides.

When the butter oil mixture is sizzling and frothy, add the chicken breasts and brown, about 2-3 minutes on each side.

Transfer the chicken to a baking dish and then place in the oven to finish cooking, about 10-15 minutes or when the chicken internal temperature reaches 155 – 160F using a meat thermometer.

In the same skillet turn down the heat to medium and add the onion slices and sauté the onions until golden brown.

Stir in the paprika and add the wine.  Let the wine reduce by half.

Stir in the Dijon mustard and then the crème fraiche. Let the sauce simmer for a few minutes and then pour over the cooked chicken.  Sprinkle the chicken with Gruyère cheese and then place back in the oven to warm the chicken and melt the cheese.  Transfer to a platter or individual plates.

This dish is delightful with brown and wild rice, sautéed mushrooms and peas, or warm Farro with asparagus tips.  Bon Appetit!

Chicken Kid Friendly

Coq au Vin

It would be hard for me to choose my favorite type of food.  I am completely in love with classic French cuisine, however, I also have quite the love affair with Italian.  Not to mention foods South of the Border!  Ok, I just love good food.  Which is probably why I’m a Chef and constantly posting delicious recipes on this food blog.  Ranger Craig says I’m obsessed with food, but you’ll never hear him complain because he’s my official in home taste tester and he relishes his job! 

Although chicken is not Ranger Craig’s favorite dish for dinner, he too loves classic French cuisine.  Coq au Vin is a classic French dish… chicken braised in red wine.  With veggies and herbs of course, but truly this couldn’t be simpler, or more delicious. 

There are many fabulous versions of this recipe floating around the world, but as always, I’ve chosen the most “home kitchen friendly”.  Traditional Coq au Vin includes pearl onions and quartered mushrooms.  I like to use a chopped onion and sliced mushrooms.  And as well, I like the mushrooms pan sautéed and added to the sauce at the end.  Instead of putting together a bouquet garni, I add my sprigs of thyme and bay leaf separately and chop the parsley.  It’s still just as delicious, but saves a bit of time in the kitchen. 

However you decide to prepare this classic French chicken, you’ll absolutely savor every bite…even if chicken isn’t your favorite dish for dinner! 

Happy Cooking!

Serves 4

Ingredients

6 slices bacon, diced

1 large onion, diced

1 large carrot, diced

1 rib celery, diced

6 cloves garlic, thin sliced

4-6 chicken thighs (bone in)

4-6 chicken legs (bone in)

1 bottle red wine (French Pinot Noir, Chianti or Zinfandel)

2 tablespoons Italian Parsley, chopped

2 sprigs fresh thyme

1 bay leaf

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour mixed with 1 tablespoon soft butter

8 oz Cremini mushrooms sliced

3-4 tablespoons butter

Extra virgin olive oil

Kosher or sea salt

Fresh cracked black pepper

Directions

Pre-heat the oven to 325F.  Heat a Dutch oven on medium and cook the bacon.  Once the bacon is cooked, remove the bacon pieces to a bowl and leave the bacon drippings in the pot.

Add the onion, carrot and celery and sauté for a few minutes until the onion turns golden brown. Add the garlic and let it sauté for a minute or two. Remove the veggies to the bowl with the bacon, leaving the remaining bacon fat in the pot. 

Sprinkle the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and add to the Dutch oven, turning the heat to medium high.  Brown the chicken on both sides, adding a little olive oil if needed.  You may need to brown the chicken in batches.  Transfer the chicken to a platter.

Add the veggies and bacon pieces back to the pot and then add 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, thyme and bay leaf.  Pour the entire bottle of wine over the veggies and stir.  Add the flour/butter mixture and mix well. 

Place the chicken pieces back into the Dutch oven and bring to a boil.  Cover with a tight-fitting lid and transfer to the oven.  Cook in the oven for about 40 minutes.  Then remove the lid and cook for another 10-15 minutes letting the liquid reduce a bit.

While the chicken is cooking, heat the butter in a large sauté pan and sauté the mushrooms until golden brown. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

When the chicken is done, transfer to a platter and keep warm.  Remove the parsley, thyme sprigs and bay leaf from liquid.  If the liquid needs to reduce further, heat the Dutch oven over medium high heat and let the liquid reduce a bit more. 

Add the mushrooms to the sauce and then ladle the sauce over the warm chicken pieces. Garnish with the fresh chopped parsley and serve immediately.

This dish is fabulous with my creamy polenta recipe in the Beef Straccato post found under the category “beef”.  It can also be served with baby red roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes or egg noodles. 

Option: This can be prepared in a slow cooker.  Fry the bacon pieces and veggies according to directions.  Dust the chicken with a little flour and brown chicken according to directions. Then transfer the browned chicken to the slow cooker.  Pour the bacon and veggies over the chicken; add the parsley, thyme and bay leaf, and add about 2 cups of wine.

Cover and cook on low for about 6-8 hours or on high about 4-5 hours.  When the chicken is done transfer to a platter, removing the parsley, thyme and bay leaf.  Pan sear the mushrooms and add to the sauce. Garnish with the remaining chopped parsley and serve immediately.

Kid Friendly Sauces, Salsas and More Seafood

Sole Meuniere

Sole Meuniere is a classic French fish recipe prepared with fresh Dover sole that has been lightly dusted in flour, pan seared in clarified butter and then topped with a simple sauce of fresh butter, capers, a squeeze of lemon and Italian parsley.  Simply divine! 

Although I’ve prepared this lovely dish of sole at least fifty times or more, I hadn’t thought of preparing it lately.  Most likely due to preparing it one too many times in the past and hearing the Bennett crew comment about Sole Meuniere always being on the weekly menu. 

However, on Mother’s Day this past May, my little gal gave me a set of Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home DVD’s.  How wonderful it is to watch Julia and Jacques preparing my very favorite classic French dishes!  Of course, one of the fish recipes highlighted in this series is the classic Sole Meuniere.  A light bulb went on in my head and I realized I hadn’t prepared this dish in quite some time and it must make its way into my weekly menu once again.

Well, I have to tell you it was hit and I’ve prepared it twice since Mother’s Day!  Sole Meuniere can be prepared as simply or as complex as you wish.  In my 1964 copy of The Escoffier Cook Book ,there are seven different preparations of Sole Meuniere.  The most common being Fish a la Meuniere.  The other six versions consist of varied ingredients  such as the Sole Meuniere with Cucumbers, called Doria.  The cucumbers have been cut into pieces and pan seared in butter and used as a garnish for the delicious sole.  This particular garnish of cucumbers is absolutely delicious.  I know it might sound odd, however, cucumbers are a lovely compliment in flavor to most fish. 

Dover Sole is definitely my favorite type of sole for this recipe, however, feel free to substitute with a Petrale Sole or Flounder, which is also a flatfish with a mild and delicate flavor.   As well, if you don’t care for capers, feel free to substitute with a few pan seared sliced mushrooms. 

Enjoy a little taste of France with a dinner of Sole Meuniere.  As Julia and Jacques would say…  Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!

Serves 4

Ingredients

3/4 – 1 lb fresh Dover Sole (about 8-10 fillets)

Sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper

6 tablespoons clarified butter (or ghee, found in most natural markets)

1 cup all-purpose flour (omit for gluten-free recipe)

4 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

1 lemon

2 tablespoons capers, drained

4 tablespoons fresh butter (for the finished sauce)

Directions

Season fillets with salt and pepper.

Heat 4-6 tablespoons clarified butter in a large sauté pan or large heavy bottom skillet.

Dredge fillets in flour, shaking off any excess flour. Place fillets in sauté pan and cook over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes per side, until golden brown and crispy. Remove fillets from pan and transfer on to a platter, sprinkle with parsley and keep warm while sauteing the remaining fish, adding additional butter as needed.

Remove remaining butter from the skillet and add the fresh butter. Heat until the butter begins to brown. Remove from heat and stir in capers. Squeeze a little fresh lemon over the fillets and then pour the sauce over the fish and serve. Garnish with lemon slices.

Tip:  To prepare clarified butter at home:  Using two sticks of unsalted butter, melt the butter slowly in a small pan over low heat until the butter fat is at the bottom and the clarified butter is floating on top.  Skim off the clarified butter to use for the fish.  Discard the remaining milk fat from the bottom of the pan. 

Serve Sole Meuniere with fresh wilted spinach or roasted asparagus spears.  A fresh salad of spring greens tossed with a basic red or white wine vinaigrette is also delicious.