Cassoulet d'Agneau

White Beans with Lamb Shoulder and Sausage

(Adapted, with assistance from Deborah Weinberger, from Julia Child,, Mastering the Art of French Cooking)

This is a complex dish, wonderful for a party. It can be prepared ahead of time, refrigerated, and reheated.
Ingredients Directions
  • 2 lbs. (5 cups) dry white beans (Great Northern preferred)
  • 1 quart lamb stock
  • 1 lb. lamb bones (from shoulder, neck or shank)
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) sliced onions
  • large herb bouquet (6-8 parsley sprigs, 4 unpeeled garlic cloves, ½ tsp thyme, 2 bay leaves) tied in cheesecloth
  • 1 Tbs salt
  • 1 lamb shoulder (ca. 2½ lbs.), boned
  • 4-6 Tbs cooking oil
  • 2 cups (½ lb.) minced onions
  • 4 cloves mashed garlic
  • 6 Tbs tomato purée, tomato paste, or 4 large tomatoes peeled, seeded, and juiced
  • ½ tsp thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 cups dry white wine or 2 cups dry white vermouth
  • 1 quart lamb stock or 3 cups canned beef boullion and 1 cup water
  • 3 lbs. lamb sausage (try a mix of sweet, spicy and smoked)
  • 2 cups dry white bread crumbs
  • ½ cup chopped parsley
  • 3-4 Tbs cooking oil
Drop the beans into a kettle with 5 quarts boiling water. Bring rapidly back to a boil and boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let the beans soak for 1 hour in the hot water. Drain off the water.

Soften the sliced onions in butter or cooking oil. Add the lamb stock, onions, herb bouquet, and salt to the beans, bring to a simmer. Simmer 1 hour or until the beans are just tender. Add boiling water as necessary to keep beans covered with liquid. Season to taste, leaving beans in their cooking liquid until ready to use.

Cut the lamb shoulder into chunks roughly 2-inches on a side. Dry on paper towels, then brown on all sides in very hot (almost smoking) cooking oil. Brown the lamb bones and remove. If the oil has burned, discard it. Brown the minced onions in fresh oil for about 5 minutes.

Put the lamb, bones, mashed garlic, tomato, thyme, bay leaves, wine or vermouth, and stock in a caserole. Bring to a simmer on top of the stove, season lightly with salt. Cover and simmer slowly on top of the stove or in a 325° oven for 1½ hours. Then remove the meat to a dish; discard the bones and bay leaves. Remove all but 2 tablespoons fat and correct seasoning of cooking liquid.

Slice the sausage into ½ inch thick slices, cutting diagonally for long oval slices, and brown.
Drain the beans, reserving the liquid. Discard the herb bouquet. Pour the cooked and drained beans into the lamb cooking juices. Add bean cooking liquid as needed so beans are covered. Bring to a simmer and simmer 5 minutes, then let the beans stand in the liquid for 10 minutes to absorb flavor. Drain the beans.

Arrange a layer of beans in the bottom of an 8-quart earthenware, glazed, or enameled casserole. Add alternating layers of lamb, beans, and sausage, ending with beans and sausage. Pour on the meat cooking juices and enough bean cooking liquids so the liquids come just to the top layer of beans. Spread the crumbs and parsley on the top and dribble cooking oil on top.

At this point, the casserole may be set aside or refrigerated.

Final Heating
Preheat oven to 375° F. Bring the casserole to a simmer on top of the stove, then set into the upper third of the oven. When top has crusted lightly, in about 20 minutes, turn the oven down to 350°. Break the crust into the beans with the back of a spoon and baste with the liquid in the casserole. Repeat several times, as the crust forms again, but leave a final crust intact for serving. As the liquid in the casserole becomes too thick during the baking, add a few tablespoons of the bean cooking liquid. The cassoulet should bake for an hour.

Serve from the casserole with a crusty French bread, green salad, fruit, and a young, full-bodied red wine.

Serves: 10-12

Return to Sheep's Creek Farm Lamb Recipes page.

© 1998 Ronald Florence
Last modified: Fri Jan 30 17:29:48 EST 1998