Saturday, February 27, 2021

Hearty Cassoulet in the Instant Pot

Hearty Cassoulet in the Instant Pot


A hearty bowl of tender beans studded with chunks of sausage and vegetables in a simple broth. This comforting recipe is an excellent use of pressure cooking to create a warm nutritious meal without having to remember to pre-soak beans.

image of a bowl of Instant Pot Hearty Cassoulet and an Instant Pot


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I buy dry beans because I know they're good for us, but I rarely remember to pre-soak them prior to using. (I can easily remember to set the eggs and cream cheese out to come to room temperature before making a cheesecake so I suspect it's a matter of priorities, not organizational skills.)

I teach Instant Pot classes, and for my All-in-One-Instant-Pot class I want recipes that can cook all together and create a full meal with a single cooking session. This one fits the bill. Add some bread and a salad if you like, or just dig in to a bowl. Other recipes on this site from that class are my Instant Pot Spaghetti and Meatballs or my Turkey and Wild Rice Meatloaf with Sweet Potatoes.

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A hearty bowl of tender beans studded with chunks of sausage and vegetables in a simple broth. This comforting recipe is an excellent use of pressure cooking to create a warm nutritious meal without having to remember to pre-soak beans.


When I saw this recipe* (more on that in a bit) I noticed that it called for BOTH pre-soaking the dried beans AND a relatively long cook time. I wondered if it was truly necessary to pre-soak when the cooking time should be sufficient to fully cook the dry beans.

I decided to experiment and do half a bag of beans with a quick soak and leave half a bag of beans dry, then make two batches of this recipe--one with each kind of bean. Full disclosure--my daughter suggested this and she's a smart cookie (as well as my Producer for my online cooking classes). Having my college kids home "at school" instead of away at school is mostly a very nice situation.

image of ingredients needed to make Instant Pot Hearty Cassoulet--either dry or soaked beans


How do you Quick Soak dry beans in an Instant Pot?


Place the dry beans into the Pot and cover with 2 inches of water. Close and lock the lid and cook for 6 minutes at High pressure followed by a natural pressure release. This should take anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes to come up to pressure and a similar amount of time to release pressure depending on the total volume of beans and water you start with. 

I turn off the Keep Warm function for this since I don't need to know how long it's been since the cooking time ended, nor do I need the beans to stay at a food safe temperature of 140˚F since I will be using them soon. I got this tip from The Instant Pot Bible by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough (Amazon affiliate link) which I checked out of my local library. It's a terrific resource and has options to modify recipes for 3, 6, and 8 quart Pots as well as the Instant Pot Max.

A few more tips on quick-soaking beans in the pressure cooker:

  • Do not add salt. Since the pressure cooker really jams ahem infuses the beans with your cooking liquid, lowering the salt content is harder than just adding salt later in the recipe. Since you're not finishing the beans--you're just getting them started at this point. If you want to flavor the beans during this stage feel free to toss in a bay leaf.
  • If you're pre-soaking a small amount of beans (¾ cup or less) you might want to try the Pot in Pot method. When I do this I put the trivet and about 1 cup of water into my Pot. I put the beans into a stainless steel bowl that fits inside my Pot (a glass measuring cup would also work), cover the beans with 2 inches of water, and proceed with the recipe (6 minutes High pressure, natural pressure release, then drain).
  • The odor of beans transfers to the silicone sealing ring of your Pot. I recommend having a separate ring that you use just for bean dishes. Mine lives on a hook by my pan lids and once I wash/dry the ring I always return it to that hook so I don't get it confused with my other sealing rings. Had I thought about it before I ever pressure cooked my first beans, I would have chosen a colored ring to be the Bean Ring.
image comparing Instant Pot Cassoulet made with dry or with pre-soaked beans


Ok, back to the recipe. I tried this both ways, pre-soaking the beans as called for in the original recipe (using the method described above) and just tossing the dried (rinsed) beans directly into the Pot. You can see the difference--the dried beans become tender but hold their shape with a clear broth while the soaked beans break down making more of a bean soup.

If you prefer your cassoulet as more of a bean soup, I recommend you quick soak the beans.

If you prefer a 'whole-but-tender' bean with a clear broth, I recommend you start with dry beans. 

*One more recommendation: check your local library for Instant Pot/pressure cooking cookbooks. I was fortunate to have nearly 2 dozen cookbooks quarantined with me for several months while my library was closed. I learned so much from the introductions of many of those book. I could go on about Instant Pot cookbooks . . . and in fact I do in my Cooking From Frozen class . . . but I'd rather get to the recipe.

image of ingredients needed to make Instant Pot Hearty Cassoulet

What substitutions can I make in this Instant Pot Cassoulet recipe?

No Bacon? (Sad face) No problem! Use pancetta or ham--and add 1 teaspoon cooking oil to make up for the lack of bacon grease. I haven't tried this with plant-based meats but I suspect it would work fine.

No navy beans? I'd substitute another white bean like great northern or canellini but the recipe would also work with kidney or black beans or even black-eyed peas.

What type of cooking oil can you use? I suggest olive, canola, avocado--whatever you've got.

What kind of sausage? I used a dry salami that didn't make it onto a Christmas charcuterie board. A beef stick, cured venison sausage, Polish sausage or kielbasa would all work. This is an easy way to add flavor without needing a bunch of additional spices so I would not substitute plain ground meat.

No carrots/celery/onion? Yeah . . . I'm gonna suggest you don't make this recipe in that case. If you wanted to boost veggies by stirring in some shredded kale or cabbage or collards or spinach at the end of the cooking time, the residual heat would wilt the greens.

image of chopped bacon cooked in Instant Pot until crispy

How do I adapt my favorite slow cooker recipe for a pressure cooker?

I've adapted the Smoky Cassoulet recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens Fast or Slow cookbook (Amazon affiliate link) which I checked out of my local library.

If you've got a favorite slow cooker recipe that you'd like to adapt for your pressure cooker, I recommend checking out a cookbook that offers dual directions (another good one is Milk Street Fast and Slow--another Amazon affiliate link), finding a comparable recipe on the slow cooker side and using the pressure cooker timing with your recipe to make your favorite dish.

If you want to cook this recipe in a slow cooker--put the beans + 8 cups of water into a large lidded pot on the stove. Bring to a boil then simmer uncovered for 2 minutes before turning off/removing from heat, covering, and letting beans sit for one hour. While the beans are sitting go ahead and fry up the bacon in a skillet then scrape the whole lot into a slow cooker. Drain the beans, transfer to the slow cooker, add the salami, onion, carrot, celery, garlic, thyme, and bay leaf. Pour the chicken broth over top and then slow cook for 9 to 10 hours on Low or 4½ to 5 hours on High. Discard the bay leaf, add the optional wine and non-optional lemon juice, taste and decide if you need to add salt or pepper, and sprinkle parsley over top.


image of Instant Pot after deglazing while making cassoulet


A final tip--this recipe as written is for a 6 or 8 quart pressure cooker. If you'd like to prepare this in a 3 quart pressure cooker, please cut the recipe in half (but don't halve the bay leaf--just toss a whole one in). 





For more recipes using beans, please see my Beans/Legumes Recipe Collection. It's part of the Visual Recipe Index by Ingredient, a resource for folks like me eating from the farm share, the farmer's market, the garden, the neighbor's garden, and great deals on ugly produce at the grocery store.

I'm sharing more recipes on my Pinterest boards, follow me there. If you like a good peek behind the scenes like I do, follow me on Instagram. Need a good read? I'm sharing articles of interest on my Facebook page, follow me there. Want to know How to Use This Blog?

Image of broth being added to cassoulet ingredients in the Instant Pot




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A hearty bowl of tender beans studded with chunks of sausage and vegetables in a simple broth. This comforting recipe is an excellent use of pressure cooking to create a warm nutritious meal without having to remember to pre-soak beans.




4 comments:

  1. Recently got our first instant pot and have been absolutely loving cooking in it. Your recipe looks great. I'll certainly give it a try around the weekend.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Molly! This recipe is so quick you can even make it on a weeknight.
      Happy cooking!

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  2. Aww great! Such an amazing recipe :) Going to save it. Thanks for sharing the unique recipe.

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  3. It looks so yummy and tasty I'll try it at once. Thank you so much for sharing this healthy content.

    ReplyDelete