This rich, meaty bean casserole, bubbling hot out of the oven is one of the most satisfying dishes you can tuck into on a cold winter’s day.
Like any great French dish worth its salt, it has a legend, this one going back to the Middle Ages and the Hundred Years’ War. The town of Castalnaudary, southeast of Toulouse, was being beseiged and starved out by the English, when it was decided that everyone would bring whatever food they had left and throw it in a big pot. There were broad beans, lard, sausages and garlic.
The result was so delicious that like Popeye’s spinach, it gave the defenders the strength to defeat the English, and cassoulet was born, a plat du pauvre (dish of the poor) that could be made out of leftovers. The next step was the creation of the classic terracotta cassoulet pot, invented by an Italian in the nearby village of Issel.
Images by Castelnaudary Tourisme, Dana Facaros