Veganizing traditional French cuisine has become a fairly routine thing for me. Some dishes are rather obvious such as a tofu quiche or not using beef anything in my onion soup, etc. Because we tend to eat so many foods from varying culinary traditions such as Thai, Mexican, Japanese, Indian, etc., it’s generally pretty easy to make things that are naturally vegan, but sometimes we find ourselves faced with an envie for something truly français.
Enter the “Leek and Bean Cassoulet with Biscuits” from Veganomicon. This is one of those recipes of which I took mental note when I obtained this cookbook early last spring, but it never went further than that.
Cassoulet is a traditional dish born in the warm sunshine of Southwestern France, an area well-known for their specialities using duck : duck sausage, duck lard, duck livers, duck tape…oops, sorry… You can often see jars of prepared cassoulet dressing the windows of butchers or gourmets shoppes, a thick paste of lard hovering at the surface. I knew it was a duck-laden meal, but I wanted a little more information, so rather than do a google search (which is what I would normally do), I decided to ask my sweet and adorable local bakery owner who is aimeable and chatty and loves talking about food. A pretty typical recipe for this thick bean stew is 1 kg. (2.2lbs) of white beans, a ham hock, hunks of “Toulouse” or other spicy sausages, and many, many duck thighs (at least 8). Oh, and a carrot, an onion, some garlic, maybe some thyme and bay leaf. I’d like to thank my boulangère, as well as the three other women who were waiting in line with me at the boulangerie when I went to buy my bread a few days ago for this “rough” recipe.
Obviously the Vcon recipe is sans sausage and duck, but it is still full of flavour. When I informed M. Fish that I was preparing a cassoulet he replied with incredulous smarmyness “ah bon, puisque tu as réussi à faire du faux canard maintenant?” (Really? Because you’ve managed to create fake duck now?). In lieu of duck I used some seitan I made earlier in the month using Kittee’s Basic Gluten Log recipe (this stuff freezes really well which is so nice). I also upped the veggies adding way more carrots & peas than the recipe called for…
This was absolutely delicious. It reminded me much more of a pot pie than anything else, but because I am a huge fan of the pot pie, this was not a problem. M. Fish was rather confused about the addition of the biscuit topping, and to be honest I don’t think it’s necessary at all. This is already a very heavy, satisfying Autumn/Winter dish, and the biscuits just add to the heaviness – this is coming from a self-proclaimed biscuit lover, just for the record. Next time I make this, because I will indeed be making this again, I will omit the biscuit topping and just cover with foil until the last 15 minutes, add some green beans and mushrooms and omit the seitan because I don’t think it adds anything to the dish. Some people love their meat analogues however, so they would probably really like the addition to some vegan sausage or seitan
Thanks for all the kind comments about the apron I made for my sis. You guys are the bestest!