Restaurant Le Colombier : Le Cassoulet

Le Cassoulet du Restaurant le Colombier

Le Cassoulet

Restaurant le Colombier Toulouse, le cassoulet

Even to-day the nature of the Languedoc country
is expressed in Cassoulet, where haricot beans are
delicately mixed together with duck confit, Toulouse
sausage with pork shin, sausage with pork rind.

The cassoulet tradition and its recipe have been
kept on for over 150 years.

A serious selection of products together with the
know-how of a professional team make Le Colombier
a house proud of its local reputation in Toulouse.

The south-west of France, with its strong gastronomic tradition, is the birth place of the cassoulet. It first appeared in the course of the 16th century, at a time when the first haricot beans then called "white beans" came from the New World and were grown in the south of France.

There is nothing to allow us to say whether cassoulet existed under the same form but made with broad beans at this time.

Cassoulet is a typical rural dish, it was served during the winter months after the traditional pork feast and the preparation of goose and duck meat. It seems Castelnaudary was the birthplace of this speciality, for it lies half-way between Languedoc, the region whence "lou cassoul" originates, and Gascony, the privileged region for farming geese and ducks. The beans will come either from the Lauraguais or the Ariège Pyrenees.

Originally, farmers' wives would cook the famous speciality in the beginning of the week and let "lou cassoul" (a typical Languedoc word, meaning the earthenware pot on the picture) cook in the heart of the fireplace.

The bottom of the pot was covered with rind and filled up wit herbs and vegetable and herbs, the whole generously greased with lard or duck or goose fat.

A ham bone often rancid, would give the dish its subtle taste, abundantly spiced.

This dish would be the farmers food all over the week. Thus cassoulet spared the housewife the chore of daily cooking: everyday, after "breaking the crust" that daily formed on the surface, missing ingredients were replaced so that cassoulet might be always full. On Sundays, to feast, after breaking the crust for the seventh time, sausages and confit were added.

Maybe the familiar French expression "casser la croûte" (literally breaking the crust, = to have something to eat) comes from this practise, though other regions and usages claim it as theirs. In the course of time, each region has added up its subtleties in the elaboration of the dish.

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