This is the cholent that my recipe tester and friend, Marion Sultan, and I created. We saw a recipe with chestnuts and we tried it and loved it. It adds something seasonal. If you make it during the Jewish holidays, it heralds the fall and the beginning of winter.
You don’t have to use butternut squash, but I like the sweetness. It melts in your mouth and it liquifies the stew. The choice of meat is very important — we settled on beef brisket. If you do not want to use beef, you could just do the chicken legs and some duck confit or veal, which is leaner than beef. This recipe only calls for three garlic cloves, but if you love garlic you can double the amount. I also use curly parsley; I like its bitter intensity. Some people look at this recipe and say: Marrow bones! Fat! But as Eric Garcia says in my book, “Fat is flavor.”
Recipe reprinted with permission from “Cassoulet Confessions: Food, France, Family and the Stew That Saved My Soul” by Sylvie Bigar. Published by Hardie Grant; September 13, 2022
- 1 lb 2 oz (500 g) dried Tarbais beans or other large white beans
- 4 lb (2 kg )first-cut beef brisket, trimmed and cut in 5 cm (2 in) cubes
- 4 chicken legs, thighs and drumsticks separated
- 3 Tbsp coarse sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 Tbsp chicken or duck fat
- 2 large onions, peeled and chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- 2 oz/¼ cup (60 g) curly parsley, finely chopped
- 2 oz/¼ cup (60 g) fresh thyme leaves
- 2 Tbsp sweet Hungarian paprika
- ¼ tsp allspice
- 2 Tbsp honey
- 6 lb ½ oz/¾ cup (185 g) pearl barley
- 2 marrow bones (about 5 cm/2 in thick)
- 6 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
- 4 carrots, peeled and diced
- 1 small butternut squash, peeled and diced
- optional (if in season): chestnuts, cooked and peeled
- 8 large eggs
- Rinse the beans thoroughly and soak for at least 2 hours in cold water, then drain.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Blanch the beans in boiling water for 15 minutes, then drain and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 90°C (200°F).
- Season both meats with 1 bsp of salt and a good grind of pepper.
- In a large ovenproof pot with a tight lid, melt the chicken or duck fat. Sear the brisket cubes on all sides, then remove and reserve. Sear the chicken on all sides. Remove and reserve.
- Using the same pot, sauté the onions and the garlic over a low heat. 7. Stir in the parsley, thyme, paprika, 1½ Tbsp salt, allspice and honey. Stir for 1-2 minutes.
- Add the beans and the pearl barley. Stir until well coated.
- Add the meats and the marrow bones on top.
- Add the potatoes, carrots and squash, and chestnuts if using, as a layer over the meats and marrow bones.
- Wedge the eggs in their shells between the potatoes and squash. 12. Add enough water to cover. Add ½ Tbsp of coarse sea salt, then bring to a boil.
- Cover and bake in the oven for 10 hours.
- Remove and serve from the pot.