The farmer's market is bursting with great produce right now, but what caught my attention last weekend were the Pink Lady peas (also known as Pink Eyed peas). Inspired by a lighter, fresher take on cassoulet I recently enjoyed at Rhubarb in Asheville, my interpretation here capitalizes on the delicious but highly perishable peas that are nearing the end of their availability for the season. You can easily substitute any number of fresh or frozen peas as you see fit.
Although I intended to keep this almost entirely vegetarian, I couldn't resist including some boudin from local restaurant/butcher Standard Foods. Boudin is fully cooked, so it only needs to simmer in a little stock. Feel free to substitute other types of pork sausage, but you'll need to grill or sauté them in advance for this recipe. Or just skip the sausage entirely and switch out the chicken stock for veggie stock to make this entirely vegetarian.
I cooked this on my Big Green Egg with a couple handfuls of smoking chips, but this can easily be started on the stove and finished in the oven.
This is a really flexible recipe for wine pairings. Reds from the Languedoc or Provence would be true to form for a traditional cassoulet, but I'd lean lighter on this and recommend Gamay, Trousseau, Pinot Noir and other light-bodied reds. For white wines, Gruner Veltliner, unoaked/lightly-oaked Chardonnay, and northern Italian varieties come to mind. Traditionally made dry rosés and Champagne would also be terrific choices.
Pink Lady Pea Cassoulet with Boudin
Yields 4-6 servings
- 2 lbs Pink Lady peas (900 grams)
- 4 links boudin (or other pork sausage), about 1 1/2 lbs (650gr)
- 1 leek, trimmed, rinsed, split lengthwise and cut into 1/2" slices (100gr)
- 3 ribs celery, trimmed and chopped (100gr)
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 lb mushrooms, roughly sliced/chopped (350gr)
- 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, about 5-6 sprigs
- 3 bay leaves
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, more as needed
- 2 cups chicken stock
- Salt & fresh ground black pepper to taste
- Pre-heat 12-inch cast iron pan to medium-high heat. Add olive oil and mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms start to soften and give up some liquid, then add the garlic, about a teaspoon of salt, pepper to taste, thyme and bay leaves, then stir. Once the garlic starts showing a little color add the leeks and celery. Stir and continue cooking.
- When the mushrooms have started to brown and the leeks and celery have begun to soften, add the peas and chicken stock. Stir gently, then leave the peas alone so they don't break down too much. Reduce heat to medium-low (or transfer into an oven pre-heated to 275 degrees) and let cook about 15 minutes.
- Once the chicken stock has reduced by half, add the boudin or other (already cooked) pork sausage on top and submerge about half way into the peas and stock.
- Continue cooking until chicken stock is almost entirely absorbed/reduced and sausage is heated through.
- Optional: Drizzle boudin with olive oil and finish under a broiler for about two minutes
- Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve.