This butternut squash cassoulet recipe is based on a classic Cassoulet dish but filled with smoky bacon, chicken, and caramelized vegetables and ireminiscent of autumn and good in winter too.
A great recipe for entertaining as it is a simple dish to prepare in advance, and gives the house a tantalizing aroma as it bakes.
- 1 pound dried white beans, soaked, sorted, and rinsed
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 pound lardons (bacon strips)
- 2 large white onions, peeled, halved, and cut into slices
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 1/2 pounds butternut squash, cubed ( approximately 4 cups)
- 1 quart plus 1 1/4 cups chicken stock
- 1 bouquet garni
- 1/2 teaspoon dried, crushed thyme
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 carrot, peeled and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
- 4 teaspoons butter, melted
Place the beans in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring the beans to a gentle simmer over medium heat. Cover and cook them until they begin to turn tender, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Add one teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper to the beans and cook until the liquid has absorbed about 25 additional minutes. Remove the beans from the heat, drain and set the beans aside.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook the lardons for 5 minutes, until they brown. Crumble them coarsely and transfer to a plate. Add the onions and sauté for 10 minutes, until they turn tender. Lower the heat, and cook the onions on low, occasionally stirring, for 20 to 30 minutes until caramelized and golden brown. Transfer to the plate with the lardons.
Preheat the oven to 350. Drain all but four tablespoons of the fat from the skillet. Add the chicken breast pieces to the fat and brown over medium-high heat. Transfer the chicken to a clean bowl. Lower the heat to medium-low, melt one tablespoon butter and sauté the chopped garlic for 90 seconds, stirring constantly. Add the cubed squash, increase the heat to medium-high, and sauté until lightly caramelized. Take care to not burn the garlic.
Combine the lardons, onions, chicken pieces and stock, bouquet garni, thyme, squash, garlic, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper in a large casserole dish. Cover with a lid and bake for 25 minutes. Add the carrots to the casserole, cover, and bake for an additional 20 minutes.
Add the white beans to the casserole and gently stir. In a small bowl, toss the bread crumbs, parsley, and thyme with the melted butter. Sprinkle the bread crumbs over the casserole and bake uncovered for 1 hour. Discard the bouquet garni and serve.