Cassoulet, An Ironic Vegan Tribute to Anthony Bourdain

polly_Artboard 59.jpg

The deeply sad death of my favourite bad boy chef Anthony Bourdain left a big hole in my food TV series binging and in my heart. All I’m left with now for foodie TV boyfriends are Adam Richman and Frank Pinello, may they never travel in a plane together. To honour the life and mayhem of Bourdain, it was only fitting to have a rad dinner party that paid homage to his body of work. I mashed up his love of traditional French cuisine with his contempt of all things vegan and made a masterful cassoulet.

I’ve been wanting to take on a vegan cassoulet for ages, and I have to say this nailed the deep flavour and the unctuous texture of the sauce without a single drop of duck fat or pigs trotter to be seen. This recipe unashamedly uses a truckload of fake meats and the good fats. So for vegan purists that eschew the gluten magic protien, your best bet would be a variety of seasonal mushrooms and some smoked tofu. I’ve put quantities in here by way of tradition, but really, taste and adjustment are your friend in getting what you want. A cassoulet it traditionally cooked in a deep heavy pan, and is a wet and rich dish, best scooped up with some French bread. I made a peppery rocket, apple, smoked Artisa vegan cheese and walnut salad with a vinaigrette to cut all that not meaty, fatty goodness, and it was right on point. This will serve 6 easily with tasty leftovers. Make space for a nap afterwards!

Tools

Cassoulet dish/dutch oven

Ingredients

1 packet BBQ vegan duck (I use the Lamyong brand found in Asian grocers) cut in large pieces

1 pack Tofurky beer brat sausages, cut in halves

1 box Fry family strips

2 leeks, sliced

1 large carrot, fine dice

3 celery sticks, fine dice

400g swiss brown button mushrooms

1 knob garlic, peeled, chopping optional

4 bay leaves

10 sage leaves

3 sprigs thyme

1l massel chicken style stock + 1 litre spare

2 tins white beans (with liquid)

Olive oil

2T Flavorless coconut oil

salt

black pepper

fresh breadcrumbs, toasted lightly with olive oil, salt and lemon zest

chopped parsley

Let’s DO This!

Heat your oven to 170 degrees, and on top of the stove, heat the oil and the coconut oil in the bottom of your dish until it is shimmering. Brown the vegetables and garlic, remove from pan. Brown the mock meats, adding more oil if needed, and scraping all the tasty goodness off the bottom of the pan as you go.

Once the not meat has some colour, return the vegetables to the pot, along with the herbs, white beans with their juice (this creates the unctuousness of the sauce) stock and taste for salt and balance. Put in the oven with the lid off and cook for 1 hour, checking for moistness. Continue to add stock to keep moist – you want a light crust on the top and the meaty bits sticking up be a bit crusty. Stir gently so you don’t break up the beans and return to the oven for a further 30 mins. When you are ready to serve sprinkle the toasted breadcrumbs over the top and the parsley, and pass the ladle and the crusty bread with cultured vegan butter!

Polly McGee