Homegrown Ontario Lamb Cassoulet

This rustic dish from the South of France is a hearty meal-in-one. The flavours stew and marry underneath a deliciously crispy crust of breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese.

5 slices of Homegrown Ontario bacon, coarsely chopped
3 lb (1.5 kg) Homegrown Ontario lamb shoulder, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 tsp (2 mL) each, salt and pepper
2 cups (500 mL) chopped onion
1 cup (250 mL) chopped celery
1 cup (250 mL) chopped, peeled carrots
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp (15 mL) fresh thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
2 cups (500 mL) chicken broth
1 14 oz (425 g) can diced tomatoes
2 tbsp (30 mL) tomato paste
1/2 cup (125 mL) dry white wine
1 19 oz (540 g) can white beans (navy or kidney), drained and rinsed
2 cups (500 mL) fresh breadcrumbs
1/2 cup (125 mL) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp (30 mL) olive oil
1/4 cup (50 mL) fresh chopped parsley

Preheat oven to 250°F (180°C).

In a heavy large ovenproof pot, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp, about 8 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a large bowl. Discard all but 2 tbsp (30 mL) of drippings from pot. Increase heat to medium-high. Season lamb with salt and pepper. Working in batches, add lamb and cook until brown, about 6 minutes per batch. Using slotted spoon, transfer lamb to bowl with bacon.

Add onions, celery and carrots to same pot. Sauté until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and thyme; sauté 1 minute. Mix in bay leaves, broth, tomatoes with juices, tomato paste and wine; bring to boil.

Stir in meats from bowl and add beans. Return to boil. Cover pot and transfer to oven; bake in the centre of the oven until lamb is tender, about 1 hour. Remove bay leaves.

In a small bowl, combine breadcrumbs, Parmesan and oil. Sprinkle crumb mixture over cassoulet. Bake, uncovered, until lamb and beans are very tender and topping is golden and crisp, about 45 minutes. Garnish with parsley.

Makes 8 servings.

Nutritional Information: Per serving: 473.6 calories, 41.4 g protein, 26.9 g carbohydrates, 5.8 g dietary fibre, 839.3 mg sodium, 22.0 g fat, 1.7 g polyunsaturated fatty acids, 7.2 g saturated fatty acids, 122.7 mg cholesterol.

Source: Homegrown Ontario