I love cassoulet. After I read Julia Child's recipe, I was delighted to learn all about it. Though inspirational, I've never made her recipe because it's so involved. I tasted two authentic cassoulets in France and both were hearty, plain, and delicious. I developed an everyday version that uses simple ingredients.
Soak 2 lb.s Great Northern beans in warm water with whey or lemon juice. Leave overnight. I like to rinse them once during this time, like early in the morning before I cook them. I think it makes them digest easier.
Boil a kettle of water to precipitate as much calcium from hard water as is possible. Pour boiling water over the drained beans and simmer for about 20 minutes. Drain again and pour more pre-boiled water over the beans and simmer for 2 to 3 hours until tender.
Prepare the chicken by cutting into pieces and then make stock out of all the bones. You will need this to pour over the bean-meat mixture.
Roast chicken pieces in the largest Le Creuset casserole you have. I added Italian sausages (no nitrate) and a piece of fatty bacon (no nitrate) too. Drain the beans when cooked and pour over the meats with 2 bay leaves. Add a can of diced tomatoes and about 2 T. tomato paste. A tiny amount of paste is best. I keep extra tomato paste in globs in the freezer. Add un-refined sea salt. Pour the chicken broth over the mixture until you can see the liquid. Add more water to the bones and keep them cooking for even more broth for future cooking.
Bake, covered, at 350 degrees for about 1 hour.
Remove the lid and bake 20 minutes longer. I let this cool down in the oven after I turn it off. The skin that forms makes the broth delicious.
Let this casserole cool down a bit before serving. This is a dish where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. It's not authentic cassoulet but what a fabulous flavor it has.