Longfellow Beer Cassoulet


Fall is knocking politely on the door, and it's only a matter of time before winter bangs on it incessantly with a snow shovel. Inspired by dipping temperatures, a beautiful new Staub pot, a trip to the St. Paul Farmer's market and The Four Firkins specialty beer store, I threw together a beer/bean stew that turned out pretty damn well. This should probably treat you fairly well as it's written, but it's less a strict recipe than a rough outline — there's a lot of room for improv.

Longfellow Beer Cassoulet Serves 4-6

olive oil roughly 3/4th of a pound of stewing beef, trimmed and cut into roughly .75 inch cubes, liberally sprinkled with salt and pepper 1 medium onion, choped two cloves of garlic, minced 10-20 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half four or five small red potatoes chopped into 1/2 inch cubes two large carrots, chopped into 1/2 inch cubes (about two cups when chopped) about two cups of good beer (a Belgian dubbel or possibly a lambic) Herbes de Provence to taste (probably around 2-4 teaspoons) salt and pepper to taste one can of (pre cooked) beans (white preferably, possibly kidney)

In no way is this an authentic cassoulet, but the French provincial original was this bean stew's original inspiration. Use this recipe as a starting point for improvisation, depending upon what ingredients are available and how you feel about the level of seasoning.

The beer is key -- picking a high ABV, caramel-drenched or fruit-laced Belgian really gives this stew a lot of flavor and depth.

1. Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees.

2. Heat an oven-ready cast-iron vessel on a medium-low temperature and add about a tablespoon of olive oil.

3. Sear the beef on all sides (about two minutes on one side, a minute on the other) and remove to a plate. Typically, you'll only have enough room to sear half the meat at any one time.

4. Add a half tablespoon of olive oil to the pot and let it heat up.

5. Add your onions and sautee for about five minutes until tender and translucent.

6. Add garlic, sautee until fragrant (about 30 seconds).

7. Add your cherry tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, and beef (plus juices). Depending on how integrated you want your cherry tomatoes, you could keep them to the side and add them with the beans, 15 minutes before you take the stew out of the oven.

8. Add your beer -- the liquid should come about to the top of the solid ingredients in the pot, which, in turn, should fill about 3/4ths of the pot.

9. Heat the beer to a simmer, and season with salt, pepper, and Herbes de Provence. Put a lid on your pot, and put it into the oven.

10. Cook for about an hour, and then check the pot, giving it a good stir, tasting the broth, checking to see if the carrots and potatoes are tender and flavorful. Most likely, you'll want to put it back in the oven for another 30-60 minutes.

11. Once the potatoes and carrots are tender, add your beans and give the dish a good stir. Return the pot to the oven for another 15 minutes.

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