You know what we love about cassoulet? EVERYTHING. You know why? Because the delicious French dish comes in so many forms. There are the classic cassoulets from Carcassone, Castelnaudary, and Toulouse — and dozens of variations created by inventive chefs around the globe. (Pro tip: If you’re in a particular region in France, don’t say which you think is the one cassoulet to rule them all — you’re sure to get into quite a row if your answer hails from another location). So revered is it that, according to Saveur, there is even “a gastronomic brotherhood devoted to that epic French dish” known as the Grande Confrérie du Cassoulet de Castelnaudary. While we may not boast such an organization in the U.S., we do have National Cassoulet Day. And, many restaurants are extending the savory celebration. Instated by Alain Ducasse’s bistro Benoit in New York City, this year, more than 30 of the country’s top restaurants will honor the hearty French winter classic all week long.
From January 9–15, Benoit and participating restaurants, ranging from French restaurants, steakhouses, and farm-to-table New American concepts to Italian and even vegan eateries, will offer their own interpretations of cassoulet. Benoit will prepare a special three-course Cassoulet Experience. To start, guests can expect a selection of hors d’oeuvres including celery root and red cabbage remoulade and for dessert, a Vacherin with pineapple and vanilla.
The full list of restaurants can be found here. Dozens of other restaurants are participating unofficially or merely serving this dish because they (as we) are crazy for cassoulet. Below are a few of our faves to inspire you to celebrate National Cassoulet Day today.
Benoit Restaurant and Bar, New York, New York
Chef and U.S. Cassoulet Ambassador, from the Universal Cassoulet Academy in Carcassone, Philippe Bertineau’s iconic one-pot meal of white beans, pork, and duck is served in its traditional cooking vessel, the cassole. Make a reservation at Benoit Restaurant and Bar.
River Roast, Chicago, Illinois
Throughout his career Chef Hogan worked with the some of the finest French chef’s – including Chef Jean Joho – and even spent time studying the culinary arts in France. These experiences have shaped a deep love of traditional French cuisine. He is a master of charcuterie, which he incorporates in all of the elements of this dish — from the duck confit to the pork sausage. Combining all of these elements allows him to make a truly traditional French cassoulet which also includes pork shoulder, white beans, white wine, garlic, and smoked bacon. Make a reservation at River Roast.
The Breslin Bar and Dining Room, New York, New York
April Bloomfield and her Christina Lecki executive chef at The Breslin Bar & Dining Room are participating in Cassoulet Week, serving their take on Cassoulet for Two: Duck confit, Toulouse sausage, and lamb belly, ayocote beans, and herbed bread crumbs for $65. Make a reservation at The Breslin Bar & Dining Room.
Bon Marché Brasserie & Bar, San Francisco, California (pic TK)
Given chef Matthew Sieger’s passion for French cuisine, Bon Marché’s celebration of Cassoulet Day is a no-brainer. As a nod to the historic region of Gascony, the restaurant will be serving a classic Gascon cassoulet with duck confit, garlic sausage, and braised pork belly for the special occasion. True to the restaurant’s ideology, the sausage is made in-house, and this hearty French dish will be a welcome addition to the menu as winter sets in. Make a reservation at Bon Marché Brasserie & Bar.
Marin Restaurant & Bar, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Chef-owner Mike Rakun offers a healthier riff on a traditional French cassoulet with his Duck, Greens & Beans dish. He uses locally-sourced Wild Acres duck breast and leg — the breast is seared and served medium rare and the leg is confit. The duck is served with rich, creamy truffled marrow beans and braised collard greens that are studded with bacon and garlic and finished with red wine vinegar. The dish is finished off with duck demi-glace and fine herb salad. Make a reservation at Marin Restaurant & Bar.
Little Pine, Los Angeles, California
Musician Moby’s vegan restaurant in hip Silver Lake serves up a sustainable twist on this comforting dish. Wholly vegan, the cassoulet features housemade Italian sausage, baked seitan, tomato confit, and garlic breadcrumbs for just $18. That’s music to our ears. Make a reservation at Little Pine.