I made my first cassoulet yesterday. I didn’t get a photo when we sat down to eat it, but I snapped one while making it.

Tokyo friends with good food sense came to visit and I had a freezer full of random meat, so I emptied the freezer in pursuit of a special dish for my appreciative audience.

I riffed on J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s cassoulet recipe on Serious Eats. He must have made half a dozen while he experimented with different ways to manage the beans, come to terms with confit, and figured out his #1 useful trick – add gelatin to the stock to help develop the crust that a good cassoulet builds up in the oven.

Mine will never be exactly reproducible because it contained some of the angry mama boar that we trapped in the garden last summer. And bacon made by a small butcher across the bay. It had sausages from Hamish, and chicken from the supermarket. And two kinds of beans – great Northern beans that I brine soaked overnight plus a box of cannellini beans to add volume.

It took about five hours from start to finish and was 100% worth the time and effort. It was ridiculously rich with fat and flavor. We ate it with bread and salad. It was highly satisfying; ranking up there as one of the most delicious things I’ve ever cooked.

Will I make it again? Perhaps next time the freezer is full of random meat.

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Mediatinker, Kristen McQuillin, is an American-born resident of Japan since 1998. This blog chronicles her life, projects, thoughts, and small adventures.