If you’ve listened to the Lick the Plate podcasts on MyNorth (and if you haven’t you don’t know what you’re missing!) then you know host David Boylan is all about food—and, arguably, at the top of his very long list of favs is cassoulet—a traditional French dish he first tasted on business trips to Southern France years ago. While beans, sausage, and duck (usually confit) are cassoulet’s building blocks, like any folk recipe there are a multitude of variations. David’s is a riff on a recipe he found on Epicurious.com. His version substitutes chicken thighs for duck—a money saver (especially when you are making a big batch for a party), but one that makes for melt-in-your-mouth chicken.

Lick the Plate Cassoulet

  • 2 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds assorted fully-cooked regular smoked sausage
  • 1 1/2 pounds Andouille smoked sausage
  • 20 chicken thighs(or two per person)
  • 4 large leeks (white and pale green parts only), thinly sliced
  • 6 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 medium apple, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried rubbed sage
  • 1/2 cup brandy or red wine
  • 2 14-1⁄2-ounce cans diced tomatoes with roasted garlic in juice
  • 3 15-ounce cans Great Northern beans, drained, liquid reserved
  • 1 10-ounce package frozen baby lima beans, thawed
  • 1 cup (or more) canned chicken broth
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • Several French baguettes

Preheat oven to 350°F. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large ovenproof pot over medium heat. Cut sausages into 1⁄2-inch round, sauté until brown, about 25 minutes. Transfer to plate and add chicken thighs, skin on, to the same pan in batches, browning them on both sides. Add leeks and garlic to same pot. Sauté until beginning to soften, about 8 minutes. Mix in apple, rosemary, and sage. Add brandy and simmer until almost evaporated—about 5 minutes. Mix in canned tomatoes with juices, canned beans with 1⁄2-cup reserved liquid, lima beans, broth, tomato paste, and cloves. Add sausages. Season with pepper.

Bring cassoulet to boil. Cover pot and transfer to preheated oven; bake 30 minutes. I’ve also kept it on the stovetop all day. Can be made up to two days ahead. Serve in a bowl with one thigh per serving and a torn off piece of baguette. The chicken can tend to fall off the bone so alert guest to the fact that there are whole thighs in the pot.

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Photo(s) by Dave Weidner