We had a great December and a really good start to the new year! Many of my customers are looking for lowfat/ leaner options for the new year. I reinterpreted a French classic -- Cassoulet. It's the original casserole from the south of France, and loaded with lots of hearty, heavy winter foods to sustain farmers in the cold, damp weather.

It is usually made with either duck or goose confit, fat back and good garlic sausage. Beans, vegetables and herbs round out the dish. It's all put in an earthenware crock and baked until everything is tender, bubbly and golden brown.

We took the classic and lightened it up a bit by using boneless skinless chicken thighs, a nice French onion sausage from Uli's Famous Sausage in the Pike Place Market, and tons of vegetables. Give it a try. It will really warm up a cold, damp night here in Seattle, too!

Cassoulet

1# boneless skinless chicken thighs, cubed

4 good garlic/ onion sausages - I used Uli's French onion

2 carrots, diced

3 stalks celery, diced

1 yellow onion, diced

6 cups cooked white beans

2 cups low sodium chicken stock - store bought or homemade

1 tablespoon crushed garlic

1 teaspoon fresh thyme

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 1/2-2 cups breadcrumbs

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large heavy bottom roasting pan, over medium heat, add olive oil. When oil is hot, add chicken and sausage and begin to sauté. When sausages begin to brown, turn them and add carrots, celery and onions. Stir frequently, turning the sausages and chicken with the vegetables. Remove sausage and cut into 1-2 inch lengths and return to the pan. Add garlic and continue to sauté until garlic is fragrant. Stir in fresh thyme and then add beans. Stir to combine then add chicken stock. Lower heat to a simmer.

Cook until liquid is reduced by 1/2 and chicken and sausages are fully cooked. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Transfer to an oven-proof baking dish and top with breadcrumbs. Bake until breadcrumbs are golden brown. Serve hot with some crusty bread and a glass of pinot noir, enjoy!

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