Eight ingredients. That's all it takes to make an entire meal from scratch. Add in a good bottle of wine for less than $20, and you've got a weeknight feast for family or friends. That's the philosophy behind our "8 & $20" feature. We hope it adds pleasure to your table.
Purists, avert your eyes. The topic of cassoulet—the über-traditional rustic French stew of confit duck legs, sausage and white beans—can inspire down-the-rabbit-hole discussions of authenticity. Which type of special-order dried beans are better? To add tomatoes or not to add tomatoes? But usually the five-hour-plus prep time launches that dish straight into special-occasion territory. (Want that recipe? WineSpectator.com members: Find it here, with more discussion.)
This, however, is the Tuesday-night version. Or the night-after-Thanksgiving version, for when you don’t feel up to spending hours in the kitchen again. Here, a ration of leftover roast turkey comes together with a few pantry staples for a satisfying iteration of the real thing. Bonus: It’s suitable for company hanging around your house post-holiday and couldn’t be further from workaday leftover turkey sandwiches.
Like more time-intensive versions of cassoulet, this setup is a winner for wines. Earthy beans, gently spiced sausage and sweet, acidic tomatoes provide the dominant flavors. When picking a wine, aim in the general area of rustic reds. (A French Chardonnay, the dark horse of the tasting we organized, was interesting—it turned honeyed and a touch sweet—but not refreshing enough to want to pour a full glass.)
The reds we poured all did well. Splitting hairs then, a pair of Malbecs, one from France and one from Argentina, got muted by the acid in the tomato sauce. A red Syrah-Cabernet blend from Provence was the runner-up, but the tannins turned just a shade bitter with the food, leaving a 2009 Côtes du Rhône red as the winner. A blend of Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah, the wine was a bit softer than the Provence red and popped with the food, turning more complex. As the fruit flavors faded in the background, the herbal and tobacco notes became more pronounced as complements for the spices in the sausage.
Pair with a red Côtes du Rhône, such as Gabriel Meffre Côtes du Rhône-Villages Plan de Dieu St.-Mapalis 2009 (89 points, $16)
Total Time: 45 minutes
Approximate Food Cost: $36 (including roast turkey)
1. In a large saucepan, sauté the diced bacon over medium-high heat until just brown, around 2-3 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel to drain. Add the sausages to the bacon fat in the saucepan and sauté until brown on all sides, around 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the sausages from the pan and place on a paper towel to drain.
2. Add the onions to the same saucepan with the bacon fat and sauté until softened, stirring gently, then add the garlic and continue to cook until the garlic becomes aromatic, around 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes to the pan and cook until they break down into a rough sauce, around 5 to 7 minutes. Add the drained and rinsed white beans to the tomato sauce and continue to cook for another five minutes. Adjust the seasoning with salt and turn off the heat.
3. Preheat the oven to 400 °F. Cut the sausages into 2-inch pieces and mix with the roast turkey and cooked bacon in a medium-sized bowl. In a 9 x 11 casserole dish or oven-safe saucepan, alternate layers of the tomato-white bean mixture and the sausage-turkey-bacon combo until you’ve used up both.
4. Mix the breadcrumbs with 1/4 cup cooking oil, such as safflower or olive oil, and a pinch of salt, and then sprinkle over the top of the cassoulet. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, or until the tomato liquid comes to a light boil and the breadcrumbs are browned. Serves 4.
Heitor Almeida — NY — November 25, 2011 10:37pm ET
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