5 Simple French Dinners


This entry from the South of France is a hearty white bean casserole. If you think red beans and rice make a nice meal, you'll love beans and pork (and sometimes duck, bacon, goose or mutton) prepared slowly to bring out all the rich flavors. Think of cassoulet as the French version of pork and beans without the tomato sauce. It's named for the traditional crock in which it's cooked. This special wide-mouthed pot produces good steam extraction. By adding (and evaporating) broth multiple times through the long cooking process, the beans soak up and store amazing flavor.

Most cassoulet recipes also incorporate classic French mirepoix ingredients: onions, carrots and celery, as well as garlic, bay leaf and thyme. Although you can cook this dish on the stovetop or in the oven, it's a natural for the crockpot. Serve cassoulet with a fresh baguette and a simple side salad. The Americanized versions below will become comfort food favorites at your house. If you like the idea of fashioning your own French baguettes, we've thrown in a recipe for fancy French bread, too. It's easier to make than you might think, and there's nothing cozier than the smell of baking bread.

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