Cassoulet, a thick casserole of beans and meat, is a hearty peasant dish that originated in the Midi-Pyrenées and Languedoc regions. The names come from cassole, which is the name of the pot used in making cassoulet.
A gastronomic council decreed in 1996 that a true cassoulet must consist of 70% beans, the preferred bean is the lingot de Lauragais. This bean is grown in the Aude and stands up to the long cooking required by traditional cassoulet recipes. Various types of meats make up the remaining 30% of the dish. And it’s the meats that determine which type of cassoulet it is.
The three most well-known cassoulets, dubbed by Prosper Montagné as the “Trinity” are from Castlenaudary, Toulouse and Caracassonne.
Cassoulet de Castelnaudary
This is the ‘father’ and the oldest recorded recipe. Besides the regional lingot, it contains pork (loin, ham, leg) sausages, fresh rinds and may contain a piece of goose confit.
Cassoulet de Carcassonne
Montagné dubbed this cassoulet the ‘son’. It’s origins are found in the walled citadel of Carcassonne. The meat in this version is mutton. In hunting season, partridge is added.
Cassoulet de Toulouse
The third version, or ‘holy ghost’ is from the city of Toulouse. It has the most variety of meats and can contain not only all the meats from the Castelnaudary recipe but also mutton, Toulouse sausage and duck or goose confit.