Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Can you make a cassoulet with too much pork fat? Can God microwave a burrito so hot he can't eat it?

After coming in to work for a few hours on Saturday, I headed over to Savenor's to pick up the ingredients for cassoulet. As you may recall, I made confit a few weeks ago, and still had 4 duck legs covered in duck fat sitting in the fridge. I also had gone so far as to order a couple of pounds of the ridiculously expensive tarbais bean. So, I was ready as far as the hard stuff goes... all I needed was the meat. I was planning on the Saveur recipe that I made... almost exactly a year ago... wow, that's weird. I'm like clockwork, apparently. Anyway... it calls for slightly exotic things like ham hocks and a very plain pork and garlic sausage, but nothing I've had much trouble finding at Savenor's.

This time, however, the butcher overruled my recipe.

"What are you making, cassoulet?"


"I don't like that recipe all you guys are using... what you need to use is a lamb sausage... you need lamb in any cassoulet. Here take this."

"Oh.. O.K."

"And some pork belly. And some fatback. And some slab bacon. Here, take these. Now you are all set."

"Uh, thanks."

Now, to be fair, he had no idea that I was planning on only using one out of my two pounds of beans when he put three pounds of pork fat in my hands... but then he didn't ask either. He probably just assumed I knew enough to figure out what to do with all that. I consulted several recipes, from Julia Child to Anthony Bourdain, but none really were exactly appropriate for what I had... so I decided to stick with the Saveur recipe, and use the slab bacon instead of the ham hocks... pork belly for the boneless pork shoulder... and fat back for the pancetta.

And to be honest... it worked out pretty well. Sinfully well, in fact. I just feel really guilty about how delicious it is, and how that likely relates to the ratio of pork fat to beans.