Monday, March 12, 2012

Lamb Cassoulet

I’m taking our lamb recipes from Greece, northwest to the country of France.

And I will admit as much as I loved this dish, I’ve had a ridiculous craving for Greek food ever since I read Amber and Missy’s posts. I’m going to have to satisfy that craving sometime very soon! But I chose some serious comfort food which was fitting since it’s currently snowing in my part of the world. I love all cuts of lamb, but it’s hard to beat shanks: tender pieces of meat falling off a big bone and drenched in a fabulous sauce.

Cassoulet is a rich, slow-cooked casserole originating in the south of France, containing meat, pork skin (not mine) and white beans (thank you, Wikipedia). And I believe it traditionally has bread crumbs over the top. 

I found this shortcut version and kind of took the crock pot approach (in a Dutch-oven) and just started throwing in whatever sounded good, so sorry for my lack of measurements. The few “real” cassoulet recipes I looked at use dried beans (hence the extra long, slow cooking) but I just used two cans of white beans. I think my broth would have been much thicker had I gone the traditional route, but this was super easy and delicious!

I served the juicy lamb over mascarpone cheese polenta and we had a kale and spinach salad on the side. And of course we had some good red wine to wash it down.

The cassoulet smelled amazing as it was cooking! I started to get really hungry while waiting the 3 hours for it to cook. As we were checking the shanks to see if they were falling off the bone, Curtis suggested using the leftover veggies, beans, lentils and broth to make minestrone soup. So on night #2, we had a completely different meal – it was brilliant!

We also really love rack of lamb (I’ll try to get around to making our favorite recipe and posting about it as well) but my other go-to lamb dish is buying lamb shanks from Costco, pre-marinated and pre-cooked. When we have company over, I throw them in my Dutch-oven on low on the stove top add in some fresh herbs and then act like I made them from scratch. Works like a charm every time!
My dirty little secret. Thank you, Costco.
Here is a picture of my raw lamb shanks just to prove I really did make this recipe from scratch (this time)!
PCC lamb shanks, $7.99 / lb.

(Short Cut Version of) Lamb Cassoulet over Mascarpone Cheese Polenta

  1. Preheat the oven to 300
  2. Heat ghee or high heat oil in a Dutch oven or oven-safe dish and sear the shanks on each side, about two minutes per side. I only made 2 lamb shanks, but you could probably fit up to 6 in a pan. Set the shanks aside.
  3. Turn off the heat and add to the pan (this is where you can use whatever mix of veggies, herbs and liquid that sound good to you) :
-          1 can tomato paste
-          Carrots, chopped
-          Celery, chopped

-     Lamb shanks
-          Lentils (I used pre-cooked from Trader Joe's - they’re a super food!)

-          2 cans white beans
-          Fresh rosemary and thyme
-          1 box beef broth
-          Red wine (just because we had some on tap, shhh! Don’t tell Curtis)
-          Garlic (lots)
-          Parmigiano-Reggiano rind (I always save my rinds to flavor soups and dishes like this)
-          Salt and Pepper, to taste
-     And I meant to throw in a chopped onion as well, but forgot. 

      Put the lid on the pot (or cover with foil) and bake in the oven at 300 degrees for approximately 2 1/2 hours or until lamb is tender. Remove the lid and cook for an additional 30 minutes or until sauce has reduced slightly. Sever over mascarpone cheese polenta.

Mascarpone Cheese Polenta
I cut this recipe in half since there were just two of us.

4 cups milk
¼ cup olive oil
1 cup polenta (coarsely ground yellow cornmeal)
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup Mascarpone cheese
Parmigiano-Reggiano for grating on top

Bring the milk to a boil. Add olive oil, salt, and pepper. Very gradually, add the polenta in a steady stream, whisking constantly. Add the salt and whisk to combine. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring frequently with a heavy wooden until thick and creamy, 20 to 30 minutes. Add the mascarpone to the polenta and adjust the seasoning to taste. Top with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. This polenta recipe rocks, it is so creamy and delicious!

Night #2

Lamb Broth Minestrone Soup

Bring lamb broth with veggies, beans and lentils to a boil and then turn down the heat so the soup is simmering (it may need to be thinned with some water).  Add tortellini, kale and chicken sausage to the broth.

Cook until the pasta is done. Serve with some good crusty bread for dipping!


  1. Should be good as I love french cassoulet

  2. I have never had cassoulet. But, I do love a good dutch oven recipe. So delicious! Great that you were able to make two different meals.

  3. That looks absolutely delicious. YUMMY!

  4. Tender meat that falls off the bone -- there is nothing better. Mmmm! Looks really yummy and thanks for the cheater tip too. ;)

  5. Yummers.....looks like real comfort food. I like the idea of reinventing the dish the next night too.