Comfort Food and Wisconsin Wine

November 1st, 2010 by vonstiehl

One of the best parts of fall is the reemergence of comfort food. During the heat of summer, appetites wane and we’re easily satisfied with a big bowl of salad and maybe a skewer of barbecued meat. We drink refreshing Wisconsin white wines like Chardonnay, Dry Riesling, and Lakeshore Fume. Once temperatures start to drop in the fall, however, we find ourselves craving full-bodied red Wisconsin wines and food we can really sink our teeth into, like cassoulet.

The origins of cassoulet are obscure. At least three towns in southern France call it their own dish, while others insist it was brought to Western Europe by the Arabs. In any case, the dish first gained fame in the late middle ages in southwestern France, and is today one of the most beloved French dishes throughout the world.

Hearty and warm, rich and satisfying, cassoulet is made with white beans and just about any type of meat, barring fish or chicken. It should always include sausage, and may include duck, goose, lamb, pork or even venison – whatever strikes your fancy. It’s best when it can stay in the oven for many hours, forming and reforming a nice crust on the top. The smells alone will drive you wild.

Below is a simple recipe for Cassoulet. Enjoy it with our Cabernet, Merlot, or even our Satin Red. This dish brings out the best of any of our red Wisconsin wines.

Cassoulet
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 celery stalks, sliced
Saute in a little olive oil.
Transfer to an oven-safe casserole and add:
1 -14 1/2 oz. can stewed tomatoes
32 oz. white beans, rinsed and drained
2 oz. old red wine (who lets red wine get old???)
1/2 lb. bologna, cut into chunks
1/2 lb. Polish sausage, cut into chunks
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried parsley
1/4 tsp. tarragon
1/4 tsp. sage
salt and pepper

Mix together and bake in a covered casserole at 325* for one hour, or longer at a lower temperature, stirring occasionally.

Serve in large soup or pasta bowls with more red wine and lots of crusty bread.

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