Thomas Keller’s Slow Cooker Cassoulet

With it’s origins in the French countryside, this Slow Cooker Cassoulet is a classic comfort food meal that’ll keep your belly warm on the chilly nights ahead!

With it's origins in the French countryside, this Slow Cooker Cassoulet is a classic comfort food meal that'll keep your belly warm on the chilly nights ahead!I really gave my slow cooker a run for its money on this recipe.  I absolutely love my slow cooker.  While it gets more of a workout in the winter months, it still makes appearances from time-to-time in the summer.  (This Slow Cooker Cajun Snack Mix is great for a crowd!)  That slow cooker has handled things like a champ for years now…but I really put it to the test this time.

You see, years ago (right around the time I was starting this blog), I worked part-time in a kitchenware store here in town.  That was a fun job since I got to talk about food all day.  We’d occasionally host special events on weekends, and one weekend we had a cassoulet simmering away in the kitchen.  This was a strategic move as it was early Autumn, and the smell of the cassoulet simmering away in the back drew customers into the store.  I wasn’t familiar with cassoulet before that event, but it only took one spoonful for me to be hooked!

With it's origins in the French countryside, this Slow Cooker Cassoulet is a classic comfort food meal that'll keep your belly warm on the chilly nights ahead!I came home that very afternoon and made another batch of cassoulet for the family.  It was delicious!  Laura (always the eloquent one) nicknamed it “French Pork and Beans.”  In a way, I guess she was right.  But there’s so much more to cassoulet than that!  There’s 3 (!) types of pork – shredded pork, bacon and sausage.  There’s a whole carload of Great Northern beans.  There are some tomatoes.  Heck, there are even a couple cups of wine in there.  Let all that simmer for a bit, and you’ve got one amazing meal ready to go!

With it's origins in the French countryside, this Slow Cooker Cassoulet is a classic comfort food meal that'll keep your belly warm on the chilly nights ahead!So what exactly is cassoulet?  A cassoulet is a slow-cooked (be it in a Dutch oven or a slow cooker) meaty casserole of sorts.  It originated as a peasant’s meal in southern France, and as such the primary ingredients are white beans, bacon, tomato sauce and perhaps sausage.  Fancier cassoulets made with duck, goose and lamb have popped up over the years, but the origin of this dish is a peasant’s meal.  In fact, the process of cooking cassoulet often calls for starting with the leftover stock from the previous day’s cassoulet.  Similar to how bakeries make sourdough, this means that the life of a cassoulet can be extended for years.  Le Central, a San Francisco bistro, has a cassoulet that’s been going for 43 years now.  43 years!  That cassoulet is older than me!

With it's origins in the French countryside, this Slow Cooker Cassoulet is a classic comfort food meal that'll keep your belly warm on the chilly nights ahead!Slow Cooker Cassoulet

For this Slow Cooker Cassoulet, I simply pulled out the slow cooker rather than the Dutch oven.  This recipe comes from the great Thomas Keller (of The French Laundry fame).  I’m not one to mess with perfection, and Thomas Keller’s Slow Cooker Cassoulet recipe is perfection.  Although, to be fair, this recipe tested the limits of my standard 6-quart slow cooker.  By the time I added all of the ingredients, I barely had enough room to get that last can of beans into the pot.  Another half cup of liquid, and we would have had “cassoulet a la countertop.”  But that slow cooker handled things like the champ that it is, and by that night Laura and I were eating a delicious bowl of Slow Cooker Cassoulet…even if Laura still called it French Pork and Beans.  I hope this Slow Cooker Cassoulet keeps you warm on the chilly Autumn nights that are a’coming!

With it's origins in the French countryside, this Slow Cooker Cassoulet is a classic comfort food meal that'll keep your belly warm on the chilly nights ahead!Did you make this Slow Cooker Cassoulet at home?  Leave a comment.  Or snap a photo and tag me on Instagram (@Spicedblog).  Cheers!

Looking for other slow cooker comfort food recipes?  Check out these favorites, too:

Slow Cooker Pork Posole
Slow Cooker Chicken Corn Chowder
Slow Cooker Pot Roast Soup
Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings
Slow Cooker Italian Beef Sandwiches

With it's origins in the French countryside, this Slow Cooker Cassoulet is a classic comfort food meal that'll keep your belly warm on the chilly nights ahead!

Slow Cooker Cassoulet

With it's origins in the French countryside, this Slow Cooker Cassoulet is a classic comfort food meal that'll keep your belly warm on the chilly nights ahead!
5 from 9 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 9 hours
Total Time: 10 hours
Servings: 16 servings
Calories: 581kcal

Ingredients

  • 3½-4 lb. boneless pork shoulder
  • 3 tsp kosher salt divided
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 cup panko-style breadcrumbs
  • 4 oz. thick-cut bacon
  • 3 medium yellow onions coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups dry white wine i.e. sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, etc.
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 1 28- oz. can peeled Italian plum tomatoes coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • pounds cooked or smoked Spanish-style chorizo sausage
  • 12 cups cooked Great Northern beans drained (~7 cans)
  • 1 head of garlic halved crosswise.
  • ¼ cup chopped Italian parsley plus more for garnishing

Instructions

  • Trim pork shoulder of excess fat and cut into 8 pieces. Place pieces in a large bowl. Add 2 tsp of salt and pepper and toss until well combined; set pork aside.
  • Using a large skillet, add canola oil and panko breadcrumbs; stir until well combined. Place over medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4-6 minutes or until panko is golden brown and toasted. Transfer breadcrumbs into an airtight container; set aside.
  • Cut bacon crosswise into ½” strips. Place bacon in skillet and cook for 4-5 minutes, or until crispy. Transfer bacon to a paper-towel lined plate and pat dry; set bacon aside. Reserve the bacon fat in the skillet.
  • Place half of the pork in the skillet and sauté for 1-2 minutes per side, or until browned. Remove browned pork and repeat with the remaining pork.
  • Add chopped yellow onions to skillet along with the remaining 1 tsp of kosher salt. Cook, stirring occasionally for 6-7 minutes, or until onions have softened.
  • Add wine and let simmer for 8-10 minutes, or until wine has reduced by half.
  • Add tomato paste, tomatoes and chicken broth; stir until well combined. Transfer mixture into slow cooker.
  • Slice chorizo sausage on the diagonal into ½” slices; add chorizo to the slow cooker.
  • Add cooked beans, pork and garlic.
  • Cover slow cooker and cook on low for 9-10 hours, or until pork shreds easily with 2 forks.
  • Remove and discard garlic. Add breadcrumbs and parsley; stir until well combined.
  • Let cassoulet stand for 30 minutes before serving.
  • Sprinkle each bowl with cooked bacon, additional parsley and a pinch of kosher salt.

With it's origins in the French countryside, this Slow Cooker Cassoulet is a classic comfort food meal that'll keep your belly warm on the chilly nights ahead!

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28 Comments

    1. Haha! Cassoulet sounds so much fancier than pork and beans, though! 🙂 But, yes, anytime the slow cooker can be pulled out to make a tasty recipe, then I am all in! Thanks, Kathy!

  1. You know what’s weird? I’ve had cassoulet twice in France. Different places, Castelnaudary and Carcassonne, but still in the Languedoc, the Cassoulet region. And I found my go-to recipe to be better. No idea why, except that when you get a traditional food, it tends to be more peasanty. at least this is my theory. Happened with Bouillabaise as well. so i prefer cassoulet a little modernized with more flavor and uumph. Duck confit is fantastic in it as well. So hearty and delicious. Good job!

    1. I think your theory makes sense, Mimi. Plus, over time we’ve updated regional recipes, and I’m totally ok with that. It’s how you stumble across new favorite ideas, right? 🙂 I love this version of cassoulet. It’s surprisingly easy, and it’s downright delicious!

  2. I spent a summer driving around France, and at some point in midsummer, had cassoulet in Toulouse. It’s not something I’d ever thought to make at home, mainly because I was under the impression that it took forever – but it never dawned on me that of course a slow cooker is perfect for that kind of thing. Nicely done, David! Thanks for sharing this recipe.

    1. First of all, can we talk about how jealous I am that you spent a summer driving around France? That sounds amazing! I’m sure you ate quite a bit of delicious food that year. I’m with ya on the cassoulet. This version is surprisingly easy, and it’s always a welcome treat in our house…especially on these chilly Fall days. Thanks, Jeff!

    1. I found it interesting that Thomas Keller didn’t include duck confit, too. Perhaps his goal was to keep it a bit easier to prepare? (Since duck confit isn’t exactly readily available. Although to be fair, it would be readily available in his kitchen!) Either way, I can say that this version is delicious! Thanks, Gerlinde!

  3. Hi David! This is my idea of perfect comfort food! I love beans, all kinds in all different dishes. Gary is not crazy about them. He came from a family of ten and money was tight so they ate alot of beans (good protein though). And pork (and more pork) is always a good thing. I will make this, although I’ll probably cut the recipe in half because I’ll be eating most of it. 🙂

    1. I totally understand Gary’s point of view here. If he ate a ton of beans growing up, I can see why he’s probably tired of them now. Either way, the beans in this recipe are delicious! I highly (highly!) recommend making this one, Dorothy. It’s perfect for chilly days. 🙂

  4. well that looks stunning david. so hearty and delicious i’m sure. perhaps not quite the season for it here:) we are looking forward to summer meals with lots of salads and fruit and ice cream. in fact we had watermelon today which was wonderful. i’m thinking i may make a version of this with different types of chicken as we don’t eat pork. perhaps chicken sausage and breast and and yes why not? even some bacon… I know that’s weird cos bacon is pig and pork is pig but i just can’t do the porky thing. tee hee… i think it’s the long pig (i.e. cannibal) thing going on in my head.

    1. Thank you so much, Sherry! Yes, unfortunately, we are 180° off in terms of recipes. We’re heading into comfort food season here while you are heading into salads and grilled foods. Maybe just start reading my posts from 6 months ago instead? Haha! Hey, I say chicken and pork would be an excellent way to make this recipe. Give it a shot…in about 6 months!

  5. As others have mentioned, I too can remember the first time I had cassoulet in France…it was in Carcassonne. Yes, it was French pork and beans but also had duck confit as well. Your Keller version sounds much easier than a traditional one to prepare.

    1. Yes, this version from Thomas Keller is much easier to prepare than a traditional cassoulet. I have to admit that this one is downright tasty, and it’s perfect for these chilly nights. Thanks, Karen!!

  6. 5 stars
    I love a cassoulet! I haven’t made one in my slow cooker yet but I’ve done a few in my casserole pot in the oven. I must try one out in my slow cooker. What a great idea! I was lucky enough to once stay with a French family in France and the lady of the house made a cassoulet. I was hooked! One you’ve had one you will always love them, I think.

    1. A slow cooker really is a great way to make cassoulet…but you have to make sure you’ve got a big slow cooker! (At least for this version.) I’m totally jealous that you had a homemade version of cassoulet from a family there in France. What a cool experience!

  7. 5 stars
    David, this must fill the house with wonderful smells after it’s been cooking all day. Such a treat to come home, open the door, and smell this! So hearty and filling.

    Great idea luring in customers with delicious smells! So amazing that Le Central has theirs going for 43 years. I make vegetable soup weekly and always wonder if I can put any leftovers into the new soup. Not sure what a 43 year old carrot would taste like 🙂

    1. Oh my gosh, I can’t even explain how good it feels to open the back door and walk into the kitchen when this cassoulet has been simmering away all day. It’s amazing!

      Also, I’m not sure I can get behind a 43-year-old carrot. Eek. Haha! 🙂

  8. 5 stars
    I love cassoulet David, and appreciate this recipe with it done in a slow cooker. You weren’t kidding about the “carload” of beans, either! This recipe is definitely a keeper. “French Pork and Beans” is a clever name to describe what it basically is. An upscale pork & beans!

    1. Yeah, this recipe really pushed the limits on that slow cooker…but I did it! But if I had one more bean (not can of beans…one bean), it might have overflowed. Haha! Either way, this recipe is quite delicious, and it’s always a favorite around here when I make it. Thanks so much, Laura!

    1. You and me both, Matt. Rustic country food is my kinda jam. And this cassoulet totally fits the bill. I’m with ya on the hunk of bread and a nice glass of wine, too. Perfect way to relax at the end of a busy day!

    1. Haha! Tell me about it, Valentina. Thomas Keller’s name attached to anything gives it instant credibility. Laura and I had the chance to eat at his casual restaurant out in Napa (Ad Hoc), and it was amazing. Some of the best food I’ve had at a restaurant in years! This cassoulet is a good one, too. It’s always a winner when I make it here at home. 🙂

  9. 5 stars
    I really need to meet Laura, she’s my kind of ‘eloquent’ – lol!

    We LOVE cassoulet. We’ve never made it at home, but now I’m totally inspired to try this slow cooker version.

    1. Haha! You and Laura would get along like old friends. Hey, why don’t you stop by and we can share Amsterdam stories?? 🙂 Perhaps over a nice bowl of cassoulet?

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