Tag Archive for French

Ciabatta (or fougasse)

Making this bread is quite a workout. It is a wet dough, which makes for delicious bread, but also labour-intensive kneading because it is so sticky. You could also use a standing mixer, which would spare you the workout, but is is also much less fun. Also, when doing it by hand you are more in connection with the dough, so you know much better how the dough should look and feel to make a great bread.
I definitely think it is worth it to take the effort to go and make this bread. Your house will smell incredible, first deliciously yeasty when the bread is rising, and then you have the incredible smell of freshly baked bread when baking it. The bread itself is deliciously crusty and has a good bite to it. The inside has large and irregular air holes, just like ciabatta or focaccia has.
Make sure you check out the link to the original recipe, because there are recipes for chickpea and olive oil purée, pesto and black olive tuna tapenade over there. I did not make them, so I did not include the recipes over here, but they seemed pretty delicious. When you want to serve the bread with these dips, it is best to shape it into a fougasse, like they did in the original recipe. Fougasse has more surface area, so it has more crust, which is perfect for dipping.

Ciabatta (1 loaf)
Adapted from Saturday Kitchen Best Bites

1 sachet dry yeast
250 g strong bread flour + extra for flouring
1 tsp salt
175 ml water
neutral oil

Mix yeast, flour and salt. Add the water and use a dough scraper to incorporate everything to a wet dough, this takes about 2-3 minutes. Then dump it out on your workbench (no flour or oil!) and knead it by pulling it up from the workbench (this will stretch the dough, since it will stick to the bench) and then folding it over itself. Repeat this for about 6-8 minutes, or until it becomes smooth and elastic.
Grease a large bowl with some oil. Place the dough in it and cover with cling film. Set aside for at leas 1 hour, or until the dough has doubled in size (this can take quite a bit longer, I made this on a chilly day, so it took the dough almost 2 hours to rise properly, so be patient!).
Place a pizza stone in the middle of the oven and preheat to as hot as possible (use an upturned baking tray if you don’t have a pizza stone).
Sprinkle some flour on a peel (or a flat edged baking tray). Slide the dough from the bowl carefully on top, trying to deflate it as little as possible. Sprinkle some flour on top as well. Slide from the peel onto the preheated baking stone, spray some water into the oven and reduce the heat to 230C. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden. Leave to cool on a rack and serve warm or on room temperature the same day you baked the bread.

Fougasse shaping instructions:
You can also use this dough to make a fougasse. For this, do the following when the dough lays on the peel. You should start with a square-ish shape, gently tug it into a square shape if it is not. Cut a large diagonal cut across the centre of the dough, making sure that you don’t go right to the edges of the dough, but do cut all the way through the dough to the work surface. Make three smaller diagonal cuts fanning out on each side of the central one. Put your fingers into the slits and gently open them out to form large holes. Proceed in the same way as with the ciabbatta by sliding the bread onto the preheated pizza stone in the oven, but bake it for 10-12 minutes instead.

Cheese souffle

Soufflés are known as one of the most difficult things that can be made in the kitchen. Luckily, there are also many people that claim that it isn’t as hard as it seems, for example Harold McGee. So I decided to give it a go myself, to see if I was indeed setting myself up for failure, or for something delicious. Because I had some left-over cheese, I decided to make a cheese soufflé, but you can flavour a soufflé with all kinds of things, and you can make sweet ones as well (which I might give a try soon).
Soufflés are pure science, they rise because the air that is trapped in the bubbles that you created by whipping egg white and enforcing it with something like a bechamel or a custard heats up and therefore expands. Also, water from the bubble walls will evaporate into the bubbles, turning into steam, which occupies more space than the water, making the soufflé rise even further. Because it is confined by the ramekin, it can only go in one direction: up. Unfortunately, the same law of nature (the volume occupied by a given weight of gas is proportional to its temperature) dictates that a soufflé most certainly will sink, because the air will cool down. There are two things you can do to prevent this sinking: the first is bringing the soufflés from the oven to table as fast as possible, because the more time passes, the more the soufflé will sink. And the other thing is to alter the base. A stiffer base will make firmer walls for the air bubbles, which make it harder for the soufflé to rise, but also to sink again. A less stiff base will make less firm walls for the air bubbles, causing a greater rise and a faster sink. An interesting fact: when you put a deflated soufflé in the oven, it will rise again (but will completely overcook, which isn’t tasty) because you heat up the air again. The recipe below is a bit in between, it does sink a bit after taking it from the oven, but will stay nice and airy.

I was pleasantly surprised by these soufflés. You make them with easy techniques like making a bechamel and folding whipped egg whites into something, so if you master those techniques, making a soufflé is not difficult at all. Also, I did not have any trouble with them rising, and they didn’t sink that much after removing from the oven. Furthermore, they were very tasty. They are very cheesy, but in a light way because of the air bubbles. And it makes a perfect luxurious but not too difficult appetizer for a dinner party.

Cheese Souffle

Cheese soufflé (makes 2)
Adapted from BBC Food

15 g butter + extra for greasing
15 g flour
75 ml milk
1/2 tsp mustard
salt and pepper
45 g cheese, grated (gouda, parmesan, cheddar, anything tasty that melts well)
2 eggs, separated

Preheat the oven to 200C. Grease two ramekins with butter.
Make a bechamel. Melt the butter in a non-stick sauce pan. Add the flour and stir with a silicone spatula until you have a smooth paste. Cook on very low heat for a minute or so. Add the milk splash by splash, stirring well in between each addition to prevent lumps. Add mustard, salt and pepper, cheese and stir well. Taste and add extra mustard/salt/pepper if necessary (it should be a bit overseasoned to compensate for the bland egg whites you will fold in). Stir in the egg yolks and set aside.
Whip the egg whites to soft peaks. Take about 1/3 and mix it in with the bechamel. Then take the other 2/3 and fold it in, careful but fast (according to McGee, whipped egg whites will deflate more when you fold slowly). Immediately scoop the mixture in the two prepared ramekins, place into the preheated oven and bake for about 15-17 minutes, or until risen and golden on top. Bring them to the table as fast as possible to prevent excessive deflating.

Three fresh summer salads

Spring over here wasn’t much. It was cold, very cold. Luckily, the weather has changed, so it is all summery now. And what is tastier in summer than a nice side salad? Here are three new ideas to give a try!

Carrot salad (2 servings)
150 gram carrot julienne
3 spring onions, sliced finely
1 1/2 tbsp chopped chives
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 small clove garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk lemon juice, oil, garlic, salt and pepper together in a medium bowl. Add carrots, chives and spring onion; mix well. Serve immediately or store up to two days (covered and refrigerated)

Note: also very tasty with radishes; if you like French carotte râpe you can add a little dijon mustard to approximate that more.

Cucumber Salad 2 servings
1 cucumber, sliced
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar vinegar
1 tsp honey
Salt, to taste
1 tbsp chopped fresh dill

Whisk together vinegar, sugar, dill, salt and pepper. Add cucumbers and toss to coat. Chill until ready to serve. It is best to make this salad about 15 minutes in advance, so that the cucumber has time to get soft and slightly pickely.

Mixed salad (4 servings)
From Eating Well

4 cups torn green leaf lettuce
1 cup sprouts (for example alfafa)
1 cup tomato wedges
1 cup sliced cucumber
1 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup chopped radishes
1/2 cup Sesame Tamari Vinaigrette

Sesame Tamari Vinaigrette (3/4 cup)
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce (reduced-sodium, if you prefer)
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely grated

Whisk orange juice, vinegar, tamari, oil, honey and ginger in a small bowl until the honey is incorporated.
Toss lettuce, sprouts, tomato, cucumber, carrots and radishes in a large bowl with the dressing until the vegetables are coated

Note: I haven’t used the sesame dressing myself, because I did not have any orange juice on hand. Instead, I made a punchy garlic-mustard dressing. For a lightly coated side salad for two persons you need 1 finely crushed clove of garlic, mix it with 1/4 tsp dijon mustard, then add 1 tbsp white wine vinegar and mix well. Then add 2 tbsp olive oil in a slow stream while whisking. Add a tbsp chopped chives or parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper. Some people prefer a higher oil to acid ratio, for example 5:1 instead of 2:1, so try the dressing and add more oil if you think it is necessary.

Three course diner: ravioli, risotto and floating islands

A delicious three course diner cooked for guests consisting of:
Ravioli filled with ricotta, pine nuts and parmesan in browned butter
Risotto with mascarpone and parmesan; grilled green asparagus and parma ham; lollo biondo and cherry tomatoes with balsamic dressing
Floating islands
All for 4-6 persons

Ravioli filled with ricotta, pine nuts and parmesan in browned butter
You can find my ravioli recipe over here.
For the filling roast 25 grams of pine nuts, mix with 200 gram ricotta, a few tablespoons of grated parmesan and a grinding of black pepper. You will probably have a bit left (it is always difficult to estimate the amount of filling that goes into ravioli) but it is delicious the next day combined with some courgette. Shape the ravioli any way you like, I made small squares. Cook them in boiling water, then toss in a hot frying pan with butter, to toast them slightly. I served them very simple on a plate with a drizzle of the butter. If you want to make this dish in advance, place the formed ravioli on a plate and cover with cling film. Set aside at a cool place until ready to cook.

Risotto with mascarpone and parmesan
You can read about making risotto here, here and here. Make risotto with 300 g arborio and 1 liter stock (homemade vegetable or chicken stock is best, but you can also use store bought stock of good quality (which I did this time)). Finish the risotto with a few tablespoons of mascarpone, a generous amount of grated parmesan and a grinding of pepper. Taste to check the seasoning, add salt and/or pepper if necessary. Serve with the grilled green asparagus and parma ham on the side. If you want to prepare this dish in advanced, cook it until the finishing step; when ready to serve heat the risotto on low heat and finish.

Grilled green asparagus and parma ham
Cut a few cm from the bottom of the asparagus (fresh and/or thin ones only need a small bit of the storkremoved, be with larger and/or older ones a bit more generous with what you cut off). Peel the asparagus; some people suggest that this is not necessary with green asparagus, but I find that they need to be very small and thin to not need peeling… no one likes to have a mouth full of fiberous stringy bits. Boil them for a few minutes, then grill for a minute in a very hot pan. This gives the asparagus a nice, sweet and slightly charry finish. Meanwhile fold the ham into rosettes (use any raw ham you like/have available, I used parma). Place the asparagus on the plate next to the risotto, garnish with the ham rosettes and a few shavings of parmesan cheese (use a potato peeler for this). If you want to prepare this dish in advance, peel the asparagus and store them in cold water. You can also already make the ham rosettes and parmesan shavings.

Lollo biondo and cherry tomatoes with balsamic dressing
Very simple. Wash the lettuce, tear in pieces, halve the cherry tomatoes (you can do these things in advance). When ready for serving, mix the lettuce and tomatoes, sprinkle with a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt. Mix well and serve immediately.

Floating islands
I had some trouble with this recipe, because the instructions were not perfect and the ratio of ingredients is slightly off. The amount of custard is perfect for a rich dessert for 4-6 persons, but you have a lot more meringue than necessary. There is also a lot of caramel, I think you could do with halve a recipe. Also, it is important to not have the milk boiling when you poach the meringues, this will give a big mess and it also makes the meringues disgusting. And make sure you don’t place to much meringues in the pan, the recipe suggest that 6 large dollops will fit, but I think 4 medium dollops is really the maximum. Luckily, in the end it all turned out very well and everyone thought the dessert was delicious, so it is certainly worth it to prepare. But keep in mind, it is really rich, so don’t serve it if you already had a large and/or heavy appetizer and main course.

Slightly adapted from Raymond Blanc – Echt Frans koken
For the poaching liqor
1 liter full fat milk
250 ml cream
2 vanilla pods (or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract)

For the meringue
8 egg whites
275 g sugar

For the custard
8 egg yolks
75 g sugar
the milk in which the meringue was poached

For the caramel
3 tbsp water
150 g sugar

Flavour the milk. Pour the milk and cream into a large pan of 30 cm diameter and 7 cm deep and bring to simmering. Slice the vanilla pods lengthwise and scrape the seeds out of them. Add both the seeds and the pods into the milk (you can rinse the pods after simmering and place them in a jar of sugar to create vanilla sugar; or blend them to a paste and use as extract). Or add the real vanilla extract. Leave to simmer 5 minutes.
Make the meringue. Whip the egg whites to slightly foamy, then gradually pour in the sugar while mixing. Keep mixing about 10 minutes (with an electrical hand mixer) until the mixture is shiny and has firm peaks.
Poach the foam. Use a large spoon to scoop 4 medium dollops of the meringue into the lightly simmering milk. Poach 5 minutes, then turn over very carefully (I used a slotted spoon) and poach for another 5 minutes. The milk should be barely simmering, not boiling!!! When ready, use the slotted spoon to place the poached meringues onto a baking tray. Use the remaining meringue for another 4 dollops, or for making dried meringues (dollop on a lined baking tray and bake in an 130C oven until firm).
Making the custard. Sieve the milk and cream used for poaching into a pan. Bring to a simmer. Mix the egg yolks and the sugar in a large bowl. Pour the simmering milk on top of the egg yolk mixture, while mixing. Pour back into the pan. Heat 4-5 minutes on low-medium heat until the custard thickens. Keep mixing the whole time. The custard is ready when it coats the back of a wooden spoon. Pour back into the bowl and keep mixing for a while to cool the custard slightly (otherwise it could still split). Leave to cool further, place in the fridge if you like really cold custard.
Making the caramel. Pour the water and sugar into a pan. Place on medium heat until it forms a syrup and then turns to caramel. Don’t stir, and don’t let the caramel get to dark, it will cook slightly further when you take the pan of the heat.
Presentation. Pour the custard in individual serving bowls or in a large bowl. Carefully place the poached meringues (with help of a slotted spoon) on top of the custard. The poached meringues are the islands that float on a sea of custard. Drizzle the meringues with the still hot caramel.
You can make both the poached meringue islands and the custard in advance (up to a day). But making and drizzling the caramel is a last minute job.

Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic

It may seem a little crazy to add this much garlic to a dish, but actually it works very well. Because it is stewed for quite some time the taste of the garlic becomes deliciously sweet and mild, it also helps to tenderize the chicken, so you end up with the most tasty succulent chicken, and it also makes the sauce even more tasty than it already was. But beware, if you don’t like garlic, don’t make this, as it is still a very garliccy dish.
The original recipe suggest to serve this with both mashed potatoes and bread, but I think that is complete overkill. It already is quite a rich dish, so two carbs is definitely too much. Keep the mash for a dish with lighter sides, and only serve with bread. Or do as I do and serve with some rice, which also works perfectly to soak up the sauce and garlic. The original recipe also suggests to add some small shallots, but I think those make the sauce too sweet. I prefer to serve a fresh salad on the side.

Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic (serves 4)
Adapted from the Hairy Bikers

1.35 kg oven-ready fresh chicken
1/2 lemon
2 bay leafs
few sprigs of thyme
25 g butter
1 tbsp sunflower oil
40 garlic cloves (from 2-3 bulbs), unpeeled
150 ml white wine
250 ml chicken stock (made with 1 stock cube)
100 ml (double) cream or crème fraîche
flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200C.
Remove any string from the chicken and place the lemon, a sprig of thyme and 1 bay leaf inside the cavity. Generously season the chicken inside and out with plenty of flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Melt the butter with the oil in a large flameproof casserole. Brown the chicken over a medium-high heat for a couple of minutes on each side.
Add the whole garlic cloves and shallots to the casserole, nestling around the chicken. Pour over the white wine and chicken stock. Add the other bay leaf and sprigs of thyme. Cover the casserole with a tight-fitting lid and bring the liquid to a simmer on the hob, then transfer to the oven for 1 1/4 hours, or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked and the garlic is completely softened. Transfer the chicken to a platter and cover with a piece of foil. Transfer the garlic to another plate and squeeze the garlic out of its skin into a bowl. Return the casserole to the hob, when the sauce is very thin cook it on high heat for a few minutes to reduce the liquid, then stir in the cream (or crème fraîche). Bring to a gentle simmer, stirring. Cook for three minutes. Season to taste and pour into a jug.
Carve the chicken into chunky pieces and serve with the sauce and garlic. Eat with rice or bread and a fresh salad.

Coq au Vin

Coq au vin (literally rooster with wine) is one of the most famous dishes of France. And with all traditional and popular dishes, there are many recipes available, good and bad, fast and extensive. This is my version, which I love to cook and eat on cold winter nights. I like to serve my coq au vin with rice, this is not very traditional, but works perfect to absorb all the delicious juices. You can also serve it with bread, which is more traditional. Other less traditional things that I do are: using only legs or thighs, not marinating the chicken, not binding the sauce and adding all the accompaniments (shallots, bacon, mushrooms) already at the beginning of the stewing time.

Some people like to remove the skin from the chicken, but I just leave it on as it protects the meat and gives extra flavour. If you don’t like skin, remove it before browning the chicken and fry it in a small pan with a little coconut oil. With a sprinkling of salt this is a delicious appetizer. Or remove it after cooking and give it to someone who does like skin. I think throwing it away is a waste.

Depending on the wine you use the chicken will be more deep red or more purple, but it should be a decent wine and be quite robust for a good result. Burgundy is the traditional choice, but a Shiraz, Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon is also nice.

Coq au Vin

Coq au vin (2 generous servings)

2 chicken legs or 4 chicken thighs (with bone)
200 g bacon, in lardons
200 g small shallots, peeled but left whole
150 g small mushrooms, whole (or quarter larger muhsrooms)
1 bay leave, few sprigs of thyme
Salt and pepper
1/2 bottle of wine

Heat a Dutch oven or other heavy based pan with lid suitable for stewing.
Fry the bacon until the fat is rendered out and the bacon is brown and crisp. Take out of the pan and set aside.
Make sure the pan is nice and hot again and add the chicken. Brown on all sides. Add the shallots and mushrooms and fry for a few more minutes. Add the bacon back in, together with the bay leave, thyme and some pepper (no salt, the bacon is salty). Add the wine, cover the pan and stew for about 1 hour. Chicken thighs are smaller so will be ready earlier, legs will take a little longer. Check for seasoning and serve immediately.
Alternatively you can leave out the mushrooms at the beginning and fry them in a separate pan just before serving.

Clafoutis

I think clafoutis is one of the best end of summer desserts. It still has that fruity freshness of summary desserts, but also the warm richness of fall desserts, which gives a very nice contrast. It is very rich, so serve after a light main course.

Update (23 may 2013): To make this dessert less rich, you can use all milk instead of half milk and half cream, omit the egg yolk, and reduce the sugar to 4 tbsp. I suspect you can reduce the butter too, but I haven’t tried it yet. 

Cherry clafoutis (4 persons)
Adapted from Raymond Blanc – Echt Frans Koken

1 big jar of cherries (about 350 gram cherries, keep the juice)
100 gram flour
pinch of salt
3 eggs
1 egg yolk
6 tbsp sugar, plus extra for dusting
zest of 1 lemon/vanilla
150 ml milk
150 ml cream (optional: a bit extra for serving)
75 gram butter (plus extra for greasing the form)

Prepare an ovenproof form (20 cm diameter, 5 cm deep) by greasing it with butter and sprinkling it with sugar, this will give a nice crust. Preheat the oven at 180C. Mix the flour, salt and sugar in a big bowl. Add the eggs, lemon and/or vanilla and mix well until a smooth batter forms. Then mix in the milk and the cream. Heat the butter in a small pan until nice and brown (beurre noisette). Leave it to cool slightly and mix through the batter. Then mix the cherries with the batter and pour everything in the prepared form. Bake for 30-35 minutes (when ready, a knife should come out clean). Meanwhile, cook down the juice from the cherries till syruppy. Serve the clafoutis warm, with the syrup and the cream, if using.

The quest for homemade croissants and pain au chocolat – part 1

About a year ago I tried to make croissants at home for the first time. That was a big disaster, it took a lot of time/efford and the result was rubbish. So I did not try again. But after being on holiday in France, where they have these delicious vienoisserie everywhere, it started to itch again. In the Netherlands, the croissants and pain au chocolats are just not as good as in France, so to have the perfect croissant for my breakfast, I would have to make them myself.

I found a new recipe and tried again last week. And although they were not as good as the ones we had in France, they were certainly nice and flavourful. I had some trouble with the dough, it was much to wet (probably because I scaled down the recipe) which gave trouble with rolling and laminating the dough. Also the butter did not form nice layers in the pastry, it partly absorbed in the dough (but I still had some layers!). Also they were not as puffy as I would like, probably because normal yeast cannot grow that well at the high sugar levels (18%) of the dough, but osmotolerant yeast is quite hard to come by over here.

So it is clear that the croissants need lots of tweaking. To be continued….

Croissants and pain au chocolat

Cassoulet

Cassoulet is a classic, hearty and warming dish, a regional speciality of the Languedoc (France) consisting of meat and white beans. Its more autumn/winter than summer food, but when I cooked it, the weather was definitely not summery and I could use something warming. Lets hope that at the moment of posting this, its more like summer than it is now.

Classical cassoulet is very serious business, there are important requirements for cooking cassoulet. There are three French towns that claim to have the original recipe: Castelnaudary makes it with confit d’oie (goose), pork shoulder, sausage and pork rind; Carcassonne with partridge and lamb; Toulouse with confit de canard (duck) and Toulouse sausage. Cassoulet is named after its traditional cooking vessel, the cassole, a deep, round, earthenware pot with slanting sides, which of course is the only vessel to make cassoulet in. The origin of the beans and the water that is used, is very important as well, as is the cooking method (in a wood food fired oven, with specific wood).

And of course I made my own version of cassoulet. I used some soup pieces of chicken to make my own stock fresh and tasty stock, and used a lot of that to reduce down while cooking the beans in it. I also used borlotti beans instead of white beans. And I added some bacon, to give de stew a more hearty and savoury flavour.

Often beans from a tin are quite mushy and slimy, and of course they are already completely cooked, so you cannot let them stew any more. So I used dried bean for this dish, which was a first for me. Actually it worked really well, you do need to soak them, but once you put them in the water you don’t have to do anything but wait. The most notable was that the beans were much more firm than tinned beans, even when cooked through/stewed for a long time. It gave the dish a lot more texture, and a more filling feeling.

Oh, and if you’re making this, which you certainly should do, make a bit more: it keeps well and the flavours will be even better the next day.

Cassoulet

Cassoulet (2-4 persons)

Bouillon
1 kg soup chicken (bone-in, whole or pieces)
1 onion, unpeeled, big chunks
3 cloves of garlic, unpeeled, crushed
3 carrots, big chunks
4 stalks of celery, big chunks
1 leek, washed, big chunks
1 tsp pepper corns
3 bay leaves
3 sprigs of thyme
3L water

Cassoulet
250 g beans (white or borlotti), soaked overnight (8-12 hours) in cold water, and drained
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, sliced thinly
4 cloves of garlic, minced finely
100g bacon, in lardons
2 bay leaves
4 sprigs of thyme
5 cloves
the bouillon
the soup chicken, flaked in pieces; bones, skin and sinews discarded
salt and pepper
good extra vergine olive oil

Start with making the bouillon. Put all the ingredients in a big pot an put on a very low heat. Leave it there for at least 4 hours, to infuse all the flavours into the water. Leave to cool for at least an hour with the chicken still in there, to keep it nice and moist. Take out the chicken, flake it into pieces, discard bones, skin and sinewy bits. Pour the bouillon through a sieve, pushing out the liquid from the vegetables (but not so much that you press through vegetable mash). Set aside 1/3 of the bouillon for other purposes (risotto!). Don’t add salt at this moment, that will make the skins of the beans tough when cooking the cassoulet.

Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven (or other suitable stewing pan). Add the onion, fry until translucent. Add the bacon, fry a bit more. Then add the beans and garlic (in this way it will not burn), toast for a while. Then add a couple of ladles full of bouillon, the bay leaves, cloves and thyme, and let it bubble away. Check the cooking time of your beans, mine was 1-1,5 hours. Let the bouillon evaporate, but don’t let the beans get dry! So every 15 minutes or so, add a couple ladles of bouillon again. After 1,5 hours this will make a lovely full-bodied sauce and your beans will be nice and tender. Add in the chicken and heat it through, and season with salt and pepper. Serve hot, drizzled with good olive oil (some chopped parsley would be nice as well) and accompany with a nice red wine. Cassoulet is a meal on its own, but if you want, you can accompany it with some nice crusty bread to soak up the sauce.