How do you prepare for a snow day? Do you rush to the supermarket for bread, milk and eggs? Or maybe turn up the heat so the house feels warm and toasty when you come in from shoveling? In our house we try to take advantage of being snowed in by planning a big, slow-cooked meal that we normally wouldn’t have time to put together on a regular weeknight.
Flashback to Thursday, February 13th… A huge storm was dumping more than a foot of snow on our already snow-covered region, the local kids were all enjoying yet another snow day, and our office was closed. Knowing that we’d have lots of time to cook, Matt and I decided to try a new stew recipe… something that required a little prep up front and that would be guaranteed to fill the house with the delicious aroma of slow-cooking meat and herbs as it simmered in the crockpot all afternoon. I found the perfect candidate on MyRecipes.com… smoked sausage cassoulet!
Cassoulet is a classic french dish that features slow-cooked white beans and meat. White traditional versions of cassoulet call for duck confit, our snow day version of cassoulet kept things simple. All of the ingredients were readily available at our local grocery store (on the eve of a snow storm, no less!) and, after being sauteed and slow-cooked all afternoon, they came together to make a delightfully hearty stew with smoky kielbasa, richly flavored white beans, and pork that was so tender you could cut it with a spoon. Top that off with some freshly grated parmesan and chopped parsley and we had the ultimate culinary reward for all of the shoveling we did on Thursday… and it was a LOT of shoveling: about 14 inches of heavy, wet snow!
Cassoulet with Smoked Sausage, Pork and White Beans (adapted from MyRecipes.com; serves 5)
You will need…
2-3 slices Bacon, uncooked, cut into approx. 1″ x 1/2″ pieces
12 oz. Smoked Sausage,* halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4″ slices
2 cups Chopped Onion
1/2 teaspoon Dried Rosemary
1 teaspoon Dried Thyme
3 cloves Garlic, minced
2 – 14.5 oz. cans Diced Tomatoes, drained
1/2 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Salt
2 – 15 oz. cans Great Northern Beans, drained and divided
1 lb. Pork Tenderloin, trimmed and cut into 1/2″ cubes
Grated Parmesan Cheese, for garnish
Fresh Parsley, for garnish
*Choose a good quality smoked sausage as this will have a major impact on the overall flavor of the dish. The first time we made this recipe we used Johnsonville Smoked Pork Kielbasa with great results. The second time we also added in some spicy Andouille sausage (leftover from Jambalaya) and that added even more flavor.
Preheat a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the chopped bacon bits, stirring occasionally, until crispy. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked bacon to a bowl and set aside. Add the smoked sausage to the bacon fat and saute until just starting to brown. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the sausage to another bowl and set aside. Add the onion, rosemary, thyme and garlic to the pan and saute until soft, approximately 4-5 minutes. Add the bacon, tomatoes, salt and pepper to the pan, stir well, then bring to a boil. Remove from heat.
Meanwhile, place 1 can’s worth of drained Great Northern Beans in a large bowl and mash with a potato masher until chunky. (I found that doing this in a 3 qt pot worked well since the bottom of the pot is flat.) Add in the remaining can of beans along with the browned sausage and pork and stir well.
Assemble your cassoulet in layers in a crockpot. First, spread half of the bean mixture on the bottom of the crockpot. Then, in layers, add half the tomato mixture, the remaining bean mixtue, and the remaining tomato mixture. Cover and cook on LOW for 5 1/2 hours. Stir the cassoulet before serving and top each individual bowl with grated Parmesan and parsley. Enjoy!
Do you have any go-to recipes that you love to make on snow days?
Tell me about them in the comments section!