Wednesday, March 2, 2011

More PLANned Comfort Food - Crockpot Cassoulet

This isn't quite the French classic.  It only has one kind of meat (or no meat at all - read on).  The flavors in this simple stew are so rich and well balanced that YOU MUST TRY IT.  Seriously, you must. 

Here's how it starts:

A package of kielbasa or smoked sausage (in this case Turkey Kielbasa), some carrots, garlic, onion, beans, tomato sauce, brown sugar, thyme and red wine. To make this vegetarian, substitute another can of rinsed, drained beans for the kielbasa.

The red wine is French genius at work. Somehow, a little bit of red wine transformes "very good" into "WOW".  I am assured that the alcohol cooks out, so it's safe for the kids. The wine needn't be expensive - I used Winking Owl, which I think I bought at Aldi for under $5.00.  Three Buck Chuck works, too.  Just make sure it's something you'll want to drink, because you'll want a glass with dinner, and cooking with wine won't make the wine better.  However, if you don't drink or if you have a red wine sensivity, use an equal amount of broth.  I haven't tried it with vegetable broth, so you're on your own there.

This isn't my recipe.  Like most of my really good recipes, I found it.  Taste of Home Contest Winning are great cookbooks.  This is from 2004, which is the TOH cookbook I reach for most often.  I did, however, adapt it to the crockpot.

French Country Casserole
1 lb. kielbasa or smoked sausage, cut diagonally into 1/4" slices
4 carrots, sliced into 1/4" coins
1 medium onion, peeled, halved and sliced into 1/4" half moons
3 (15 - 16 ounce each) cans beans, 1 each kidney, cannelini, and black, rinsed and drained
2 (8 ounce) cans plain tomato sauce
1/2 cup red wine or beef broth or vegetable broth
2 level tablespoons light brown sugar, NOT packed (if you must pack, only use 1)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme, crumbled

Spray the interior of your crockpot with non-stick.  Add all ingredients and mix well.
Slow cook on Low 8 - 10 hours, depending on how crunchy you want your carrots.

10 servings, 241 calories per 1 cup
PLAN numbers: 6 1/5 ounces meat, 1/2 cup vegetables

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