Cassoulet is the perfect French comfort food. This slow-cooked casserole-style dish originated centuries ago from the south of France and is simple country food that will leave you wondering why it took you so long to discover it.
You can get your taste of cassoulet in Vancouver at Bistro Wagon Rouge, a casual French bistro located near the foot of Victoria Drive, from the same owner as the popular Red Wagon restaurant on East Hastings.
Normally, cassoulet is served during the Fall and Winter seasons. A cassoulet will take up to three days preparation before the restaurant is ready to serve. The important ingredients are beans and selecting the tastiest meat portions. Bistro Wagon Rouge departs from the classic cassoulet preparation as they provide a very tasty de-constructed version, which means the major ingredients are prepared individually and not with the beans.
The restaurant’s different style works very well. Bistro Wagon Rouge uses braised beans, duck leg confit, crisp pork belly and Toulouse sausage. Everything is made in their kitchen and kept separate to ensure each ingredient stands alone to be savoured.
The pork belly takes two days of preparation; it is cured first with spices, white wine, thyme and some salt. It is a confit as well and the marinade is left on when they cook it in pork fat. The result is a slightly fried piece of pork belly that is a delicious hit.
The Duck Leg Confit takes a couple of days as well to prepare. The duck leg is cured with salt and a number of other ingredients overnight. It is washed and then slow cooked in duck fat.
The Toulouse Sausage is another stand alone ingredient. It takes up to three days prep time. It is marinated for one day, then the meat is ground and placed in casing. One more day to dry out in the fridge. This sausage is a perfect complement to the other two pieces of fatty meat and really works with the beans.
The star ingredient and common to all cassoulet dishes is the beans. Here they are perfectly cooked and topped with toasted bread crumbs, and work perfectly with the meat.
The final assembled cassoulet is filling and creamy with strong tastes of various herbs. If you are looking for a comfort food dish in a relaxed bistro then this is a great find. In addition, pair this with a red wine of your choice or a red recommended by your server.
Bistro Wagon Rouge
Address: 1869 Powell Street
Hours: Tuesday to Saturday 5 pm to 10 pm; Closed Sunday & Monday