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Baby Wale
Baby Wale
R. Lopez

Warm Up with these 9 Comforting Cassoulets

Fight the cold with these warming cassoulets.

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Baby Wale
| R. Lopez

A dry, cold wind known as the mistral sweeps through corners of France in the winter and spring. With winds hitting speeds up to 60 miles per hour, not unlike the recent intense winds in the D.C. area, it makes sense to have a hearty, rib-sticking dish to fight the chill. And one of the great French winter classics is cassoulet — a casserole of white beans cooked with pork skin, and a selection of meats. The meats can range from duck, sausage, pork, goose and/or mutton depending on the originating region.

Traditionally the beans used are Tarbais beans, also known as coco beans, which are Label Rouge-certified as an indicator of quality. They cook faster and absorb more liquid than most other beans. The additional absorptive properties increase the opportunity for beans to break down and thicken the sauce. But Tarbais beans are hard to find in the U.S., so often flageolet or cannellini beans are used.

Beans aren't the only thickening agent in cassoulet. The gelatin in the pork skin adds an additional level of thickness to the stew. And in traditional preparations, the remnant of the previous batch of cassoulet was deglazed to add heft to the next one.

Most cassoulets around D.C. feature garlicky Toulouse sausage made from pork with red wine. According to Le Diplomate chef Michael Abt, it's native to Languedoc, where cassoulet originated. "I like Toulouse because it is exceptionally flavorful, and has a finder grind than many of the sausages I have tried."

Fortunately, there are plenty of restaurants that serve up a hearty cassoulet to help get bone chilled diners through to the spring.

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Baby Wale

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Baby Wale breaks the typical formula, focusing the dish around the duck confit and serving it cassoulet style. Rather than loading it with other meats, the duck fat flavors the Tabais beans.

Bastille

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The cassoulet de Toulouse at Bastille features a lamb shank, duck confit and Toulouse sausage with white beans.

Bistrot Du Coin

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French favorite Bistrot du Coin serves the cassoulet du bistrotier. This rendition features sausage, pork, lamb and duck confit.

Le Diplomate

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On Wednesdays cassoulet features as a special. Le Diplomate's rendition includes the traditional Tarbais beans, Toulouse sausage made specially by Jamie Stachowski of Stachowski Market, duck confit and house-cured pork shoulder. Flavored with savory ham hock, it's covered with golden thyme-enhanced bread crumbs.

Le Grenier

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Le Grenier serves a "cassoulet Toulousain" with Toulouse sausage, confit duck leg, pork, lardons, and flageolet beans in a tomato broth. It's topped off with bread crumbs.

Mintwood Place

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Chock full of meats, Chef Cedric Maupillier's cassoulet at Mintwood Place features Tarbais beans, Toulouse sausage, garlic sausage, pork shoulder and belly, and confit guinea hen. It's finished with garlicky bread crumbs and served with Dijon mustard.

Montmartre

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Two kinds of sausage accompany the coco beans and bacon used at Bistro Montmartre. The cassoulet is finished with herb toasted breadcrumbs.

Proof serves an indulgent flageolet cassoulet with a crispy duck leg, house made pork sausage, bacon, spinach, and garlic bread crumbs. It's then made extra ducky with a rich fried duck egg on top.

La Chaumiere

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Served as a special on Thursdays, La Chaumiere features a cassoulet with cannellini beans with duck confit, lamb stew and sausage.

Baby Wale

Baby Wale breaks the typical formula, focusing the dish around the duck confit and serving it cassoulet style. Rather than loading it with other meats, the duck fat flavors the Tabais beans.

Bastille

The cassoulet de Toulouse at Bastille features a lamb shank, duck confit and Toulouse sausage with white beans.

Bistrot Du Coin

French favorite Bistrot du Coin serves the cassoulet du bistrotier. This rendition features sausage, pork, lamb and duck confit.

Le Diplomate

On Wednesdays cassoulet features as a special. Le Diplomate's rendition includes the traditional Tarbais beans, Toulouse sausage made specially by Jamie Stachowski of Stachowski Market, duck confit and house-cured pork shoulder. Flavored with savory ham hock, it's covered with golden thyme-enhanced bread crumbs.

Le Grenier

Le Grenier serves a "cassoulet Toulousain" with Toulouse sausage, confit duck leg, pork, lardons, and flageolet beans in a tomato broth. It's topped off with bread crumbs.

Mintwood Place

Chock full of meats, Chef Cedric Maupillier's cassoulet at Mintwood Place features Tarbais beans, Toulouse sausage, garlic sausage, pork shoulder and belly, and confit guinea hen. It's finished with garlicky bread crumbs and served with Dijon mustard.

Montmartre

Two kinds of sausage accompany the coco beans and bacon used at Bistro Montmartre. The cassoulet is finished with herb toasted breadcrumbs.

Proof

Proof serves an indulgent flageolet cassoulet with a crispy duck leg, house made pork sausage, bacon, spinach, and garlic bread crumbs. It's then made extra ducky with a rich fried duck egg on top.

La Chaumiere

Served as a special on Thursdays, La Chaumiere features a cassoulet with cannellini beans with duck confit, lamb stew and sausage.

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