Thursday, June 05, 2008

Pretty Lady's 'Recessions are FUN' Cookbook: #1, Poor Girl's Cassoulet

Darlings, Pretty Lady has come to a decision. Having graduated not once, but twice, with an Art Degree during an economic recession, she has acquired certain culinary skills that combine hedonistic Self Indulgence with Extreme Thrift; she will begin to share those skills on a weekly basis. Thus, she hopes, she will fill her karmic Community Service requirements, having neither the budget nor the temperament to do it any other way. She will, additionally, post any thrifty recipes her friends care to send her.

The inaugural recipe is one based (quite loosely indeed) upon a delicacy which was a mainstay of her sybaritic time with the Frenchman; as you fans of French cuisine surely know, a cassoulet is a heavenly alchemical stew involving confit de canard, sausage, pork, beef, and white beans. It comes bubbling out of the oven in a little covered ceramic dish, whispering of the back burner in a country kitchen, warming the cockles of one's heart and sending the diner into a protein coma.

Pretty Lady's version, being both healthier and thriftier, dispenses with the confit, sausage, pork, and beef, while retaining the essential redolent stewy nature of this dish. Eat it and thrive.


1-2 lbs. chicken parts; thighs and drumsticks are both the cheapest and the stewiest.
2 cans northern white beans (we will discuss Beans from Scratch much later in the series, Pretty Lady having become slothful in her bean cookery in recent years.)
scallions, one handful, chopped
garlic, 6 cloves, peeled
olive oil, 2-3 tbsp.
1 tsp herbes de provence (or you may mix oregano, marjoram, rosemary and basil)
1 bay leaf
vegetables of your choice, the choice being any combination of:
artichokes (fresh or canned)
whatever is in season that takes stewing well; experiment!
salt and pepper to taste
juice of 1 lemon or lime

In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, sauté the scallions and 2 cloves of the garlic, crushed, in the olive oil for 2 minutes. Add the chicken parts and sear on both sides. Pour in the beans (drain the cans first) and add water to cover; stir in the herbs, salt and pepper, whole garlic cloves, and vegetables. Simmer, partly covered, for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. If it is too dry, add water; if too soupy, take the cover off and turn up the heat. Just before serving, mix in the lemon juice.

Some vegetables stand cooking for longer than others; if you use artichoke hearts, add them toward the end of cooking. Mushrooms, tomatoes, eggplant and carrots will stand cooking almost indefinitely. If you use eggplant, slice it, salt it, sweat it and blot it before cooking. This removes bitterness.

Serve in stew bowls. Provide napkins.

Serves 2-4 people, depending on appetites and how much chicken and veggies you use.


Anonymous said...

It sounds lovely and I will try it! Thank you.

Anonymous said...

hmm PL pursuing art degrees causes recessions!

Thankfully the result might be tasty and delicious food... a worthy trade.

Chris Rywalt said...

Needs bread and lots of it, I think. A few days ago a picked up a couple of baguettes from Panera. I know we're not supposed to like chains, but, damn, they make good bread.

I'm afraid my recipes aren't very thrifty, are they? You've still got one you haven't posted....

Pretty Lady said...

Bread, my dear Chris, eaten in great quantities with meals like this, promotes obesity.

And if it has not been posted, I haven't got it anymore. Please re-send, with my thanks and apologies.

Chris Rywalt said...

Ah, that would explain why the French are all so fat, with the baguettes they buy every day.

Anonymous said...

Hey... striking is hard work... has to burn a couple hundred calories an hour being pissed off.

Chris Rywalt said...

And there's all that retreating and collaborating they had to do, that had to work up some sweat. Ever notice all the treadmills in French gyms face the rear of the building?

I'm making that up. Did you know, before World War I the French had a reputation as fierce fighters?

Anonymous said...

Yes... too much war drains the vitality from any civilization... does anyone fear the Germans anymore? Russians still scare me... different set of cats over there... Really like the fact they don't have stupid smiles in all their pictures...