I’ve always enjoyed cassoulet and have even tried cooking one or two! Therefore our stay in Castelnaudary, which is said to be the birthplace of cassoulet, had to include sampling this delicious local dish. In the town itself there are lots of restaurants offering cassoulet, including La Belle Époque which we visited. We tend to go for the set menus but not on this occasion as the waiter had advised us that their cassoulet was very ‘copieux’. He was right!la-belle-epoque

There is even a Cassoulet Festival which takes place in Castelnaudary during the last weekend in August, with tastings, a gourmets’ market, a floral procession, entertainment, shows and concerts!

So, what is Cassoulet? It is basically a slow-cooked casserole containing meat (typically pork sausages, goose, duck and sometimes mutton) and white beans. The dish is named after the cassole, a deep, round, earthenware pot with slanting sides, in which the cassoulet is cooked.

During our week in France, as well as visiting Castelnaudary and Toulouse, we also went back to Carcassonne. Interestingly, there is still a difference of opinion about the true birthplace of cassoulet. Does it come from Castelnaudary, Carcassonne or Toulouse? Every cassoulet has its own special local features; however we decided not to put this to the test by trying one in every town!

Are you a cassoulet fan or have you ever cooked one yourself? There are so many recipes for cassoulet that it is hard to know which link to give you! There are traditional, quick, cheat, student and even frugal recipes available. Here’s  a link to a Raymond Blanc recipe: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1400/raymond-blancs-cassoulet

Or how about this Julia Child you tube clip?

I’d love to know if you like or cook Cassoulet or maybe you have a recipe to recommend. Do let me know and other thoughts or comments would be welcome too!