Three bites: Cassoulet – PHOENIX magazine

Let them eat… white beans? Once a peasant staple, this old French casserole is a royal treat for diners in the valley.

camel oak

111 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix

602-200-8111, www.oakoncamelback.com

The origins of cassoulet date back to the late Middle Ages, when French peasants tossed white beans and whatever else was left in a clay cooking vessel called a casserole, which gives the dish its name. The rustic stew-like mix has been a favorite of chef Robert Bogart for many years, so when he opened Oak on Camelback in 2020, the cassoulet ($18, pictured) made the cut. Bogart swaps the clay pot for a cast-iron skillet plunged into the restaurant’s wood-fired oven, resulting in a smoky, flavorful dish that also includes garlic-and-thyme roasted Roma tomatoes, a generous splash of Pinot Noir, caramelized pork sausage and duck confit garnished with homemade breadcrumbs. Need an extra dose of protein? The kitchen will add a Sunny Egg that melts through the beans like hot butter ($3). Bogart’s cassoulet is so popular that when he tried to take it off the menu during the warmer months, customers complained. “I put it back in place and I don’t see it going away anytime soon.”

The Farish House

816 N. Third St., Phoenix

602-281-6659, farishhouse.com

Owner and executive chef Lori Hassler’s “comfortable and comforting” Farish House cassoulet ($30) has been a mainstay on the menu since the restaurant’s debut on Roosevelt Row in 2019. To make the two-day dish, she simmers Tarbais beans meaty with onions, pancetta, tomato stew and fresh thyme, then add chunks of slow-braised pork shoulder and Schreiner’s garlic-infused kielbasa. She then scatters some homemade breadcrumbs with a little duck fat and gives the pan a final bake to get a crispy coating. The velvety bean stew mixed with tender, melty pork might stand on its own, but Hassler kicks it up a notch by perching a crispy duck leg confit (made by cooking the duck in its own fat) on the above. “It’s really old-fashioned cooking,” she says. “It takes a long time, but that’s where the flavor comes from.”

Culinary abandonment

Five Valleys Locations

culinarydropout.com

Culinary Dropout is known for its mom-cuddly comfort food, so when its chefs teased the cassoulet as special, we jumped. Made with Great Northern beans soaked overnight, this dish also includes carrots, celery, onions and garlic cooked with bacon grease to add a hint of smoke. Tickled with white wine, the bean mixture simmers throughout the day, giving it a creamy texture while keeping the beans intact. Cooks add charred artichoke hearts and sweet cipollini onions when serving, and finish the dish with lemon juice, butter and fresh herbs. “It’s a way for us to take a classic dish that might be considered cheaper or less sexy and turn it into something really cool,” says Taylor Domet, Director of Culinary Operations. The CD-swoon-worthy bean cassoulet isn’t currently on the menu, but it’s worth considering. We will wait.

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