Anthropod's right: there is something that can be construed as sacrilegious about trying to pass off your own concoction as a traditional dish, especially when you are not steeped in the ritual and custom associated with it. You, and your meal, become something of an interloper, a fraud. Conversely, however, there is also value in writing down the way that you do something. Traditional foods embrace such diversity — from family-to-family, village-to-village, area-to-area — that a definitive recipe just doesn’t exist. Your variation on the basic principles is, therefore, just as legitimate as the next person’s. Moreover, recipes are guides, not prescriptions; making what works for you is part of the process. None of this is to say, though, that you can remove a recipe so far from its core with your tweaks and your changes and still call it by that name.

This recipe is based on the fundamentals of a cassoulet, but there are distinct and somewhat inevitable alterations. There is no pig in it, for a start. The goose meat is also not confit, but the left-overs from the roast bird that was the centre-piece of a midwinter feast. The beans are butter beans, not haricot beans, because that’s my preference. But this is slow-cooked food, the result of an entire afternoon spent pottering in the kitchen, listening to the radio, enjoying a glass of wine, and relishing the process of creating a meal. It isn’t difficult or complicated, just demanding of your time. And for that, you will be handsomely rewarded.

Ingrediments to serve between four and six people

  • 150g (5oz) sausage, cut in 2cm (1”) chunks — if you are of the pig-eating persuasion, Toulouse sausages are the ideal, I improvised and used kabanos
  • 1tbsp goose fat
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 fat cloves garlic, minced
  • 410g (14oz) can tomatoes, chopped
  • ½ glass of wine — red or white, it doesn’t really matter
  • 2 x 410g (14oz) cans butter beans, drained and rinsed
  • 400g (14oz) goose meat, torn into chunks — we used the meat from the legs, picked off of the bone. You could of course use duck meat, or confit if you have it. This was how much meat we had. It doesn’t have to be exact.
  • Goose stock — I made two batches of stock from my goose, one from the giblets and the other from the carcass; if you aren’t so fortunate, chicken stock will be fine
  • Salt and pepper


Begin by melting the goose fat in a large, heavy-based lidded pan. Over a very gentle flame brown the sausage. When it has browned, remove it from the pan, leaving as much of the fat behind as possible.

Toss the onion and garlic into the hot fat and cook until they have softened and look glassy.

Now tip in the tomatoes, pour in the wine, and cook for a minute or two.

Return the sausage to the pan along with the butter beans and goose meat. Season and mix well.

Add enough stock so that none of the ingredients is exposed, but neither should they be swimming, exactly. Cover and leave to cook slowly for between one and two hours. When it’s ready, it should be thick and unctuous and oozing with flavour.

I served mine with boiled potatoes, because it was a left-overs supper and they needed to be eaten, a green salad, and a bottle of Cotes du Rhone.

Music to cook to: your radio station of choice