The English Inn Lansing Fine Dining Restaurant recently featured Duck Cassoulet as part of our “From the Field and Stream” special. A perfect dish for cool, fall days, it was well received. So well received, in fact, that there’s a good chance we’ll serve it again.
Cassoulet is the stuff of legends. Stories circulating about the origin of cassoulet vary, but all have coming out of medieval southwest France. Most date it to the 100 Years War – specifically to the siege of Castelnaudary, near Carcassonne.
Some versions of the story have the besieged citizens combining all of their remaining food in a heavy pot, cooking it, and feeding it to the soldiers. Thus nourished, the soldiers chased the English away from the castle and out of the region. Other versions have the besieged citizens and soldiers of Castelnaudary consuming the pot of food and creating a fabulous new recipe, yet not winning the battle.
Still other versions of the story say cassoulet came into being when Castelnaudary was attacked by the Black Prince Edward of Wales, who was trying to fill his coffers while on his way to the Crusades. As in other stories, the citizens filled a great pot with much if not all of their remaining food. Yet instead of eating it, they dumped it on their enemies. Thinking the town must have great stores of food to be able to make such a move, Prince Edward and his army left.
Today, cassoulet recipes vary as much as its history. The base ingredients are the same – beans and meats – but each chef adds his or her own twist. All are slow cooked in a big pot. All are delicious.
We hope you were able to taste the cassoulet prepared by the chefs at our Lansing area fine dining restaurant. If not, fear not. We’ll serve it again.