Le Cassoulet de Toulouse


Preparation info

  • Serves

    12 to 16

    • Difficulty


Appears in

The Country Cooking of France

By Anne Willan

Published 2007

  • About

It was in the 1930s that a legendary chef single-handedly raised Cassoulet from an obscure but agreeable country casserole to international status. Prosper Montagné, editor of the first Larousse Gastronomique (and much else), was a native of Languedoc and devoted no fewer than sixteen hundred words to the local specialty. He distinguished three styles: “that of Castelnaudary (the earliest and most prestigious) has as a base, fresh pork, ham, pork hock, fresh sausage, and pork rind; that of Carcassone also includes leg of lamb and partridges in season; that of Toulouse includes all the Castelnaudary elements, bacon, Toulouse sausages, mutton, and confit of goose or duck.”

You will find the ingredients for Cassoulet in most upmarket supermarkets. The requisite dried large white kidney beans, the fresher the better, are a subject of much discussion around Toulouse, but almost any will do, including navy beans, cannellini, and even little pea beans. I swear that the best Cassoulet I ever tasted was made with the green kidney beans called flageolets, totally unorthodox, but I recommend a try. Toulouse sausages are lightly seasoned sausages of fresh pork, while fully cooked garlic poaching sausages, each weighing about a pound (450 grams), need only to be reheated with the beans. Confit and goose fat come in jars.

My version of Cassoulet de Toulouse is only slightly more modest than Prosper Montagné’s, and it is perfect for a large party. All the elements, including braised lamb in a tomato sauce, are cooked separately and then assembled with the beans, ready to bake further before serving. Leftovers freeze wonderfully well for a month or two. Cassoulet is, however, a lengthy operation taking at least a day to prepare, or longer if you like the casserole to mellow for a day or two before eating.