A Great Sidedish For Thanksgiving Dinner

I keep hearing about Thanksgiving plans and I’m always surprised that this New World holiday always lacks beans, the most New World of ingredients. I think part of this is because Thanksgiving is a nostalgic meal and most cooks want it just like mom’s. I would hope more innovative cooks realize it’s a great time to celebrate the Americas along with family and football. All this reminded me of this post from 2007 and I would love you to consider some variation for your table! – Steve

I mentioned making this in the Rancho Gordo newsletter but I thought it should also make an appearance here. I love flageolet beans a lot and often have to justify them to Francophiles who insist that a cassoulet must be made with Tarbais beans. Those folks will be happy we now grow Cassoulet beans, which would also be great for this dish. My LaRousse Gastronomique just calls for dry white beans while others call for Haricot de Castelnaudery specifically. What to do? Maybe relax a little, I’d say! I’d worry more about the correct sausages or good duck confit.

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After reading several recipes, I experimented and took the confit I had from The Fatted Calf and put the skin on the bottom of my clay gratin. I then added a layer of cooked Flageolet (but Cassoulet or Alubia Blanca would also work), followed by the shredded meat of the confit, then another layer of beans and the whole mess is topped off with bread crumbs. This went into the oven at 350F for about 45 minutes and developed a nice crust.

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I would never pass this off as authentic or even French but readers, it was out of this world! I can’t wait to experiment more with this bean gratin idea. It would make an ideal side dish or work on its own with a salad. Jill Nussinow, author of The Veggie Queen: Vegetables Get the Royal Treatment likes sun-dried tomatoes and thyme with her flageolet. You could easily skip the duck and try Jill’s version instead, just try it with bread crumbs and then report back.

4 Comments on A Great Sidedish For Thanksgiving Dinner

  1. This looks great! I am, however, since moving to the East Coast, having trouble with beans. Does the water you cook them in affect how they soften? Any tips for adjusting?

  2. Rainier Wolfcastle // November 10, 2010 at 12:45 am // Reply

    Steve, I’m definitely doing this as a Thanksgiving side dish. My latest Rancho Gordo order arrived today with my flageolets.

    Question: Was the skin on the confit you used already crisped up before you put it in the clay gratin? I’m concerned that if I crisp the skin beforehand, the baking will burn it, but if I don’t crisp the skin beforehand, it’ll end up soggy in the final dish. So I’m not sure which way to go.

    Thanks!

  3. I did this with Fatted Calf Toulouse sausage. YUMMY

  4. Made this as promised for a Thanksgiving side dish. It was a big hit. I ended up making 7 layers total; from bottom up:

    duck confit skin
    flageolets
    duck confit meat
    flageolets
    strips of home-smoked duck breast skin, crisped
    flageolets
    breadcrumbs

    I also drizzled a tablespoon or two of smoked duck fat before adding the breadcrumbs just to ensure overkill.

    It really has the feel and “guts” (i.e., core) of a cassoulet, as simple as it is. Inspired, sir!

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