When I started planning this post I had a very different tale to tell you.
I was going to talk about how the Best of Bridge franchise was a popular choice in my home when I was growing up. My Mom loved the books, she cooked from them, took them to bed with her to read at night and she shared them with us as we grew up.
Then I was going to talk about how excited I was when I found out that my friends Julie Van Rosendaal, Elizabeth Chorney-Booth and their friend Sue Duncan would be joining the original Best of Bridge ladies and working on the series. That was May 2015 and my Mom was still alive then. I was excited to chat with her and talk about what the new book might be like. Unfortunately I didn’t get to talk with my Mom about the new cookbook because she was gone a few months later. However, when I received my copy of the new Best of Bridge The Family Slow Cooker cookbook in the mail I opened it and the memories flooded back. Underneath the hard cover the coil spine was kept intact and the format of the book was just like it was in the 80’s. It made me think of my Mom and brought a tear to my eye.
I was also going to talk to you about how I came to choose the recipe I was going to share with you. I love cassoulet and so I was tickled when I found the Not-So-Gourmet Cassoulet in the cookbook, I knew this would be the one.
All that being said, the real story here is how I came to own a new slow cooker.
Saturday came and I was focused, I was going to make this recipe, I was going to get this blog post done, I was determined! The prep went great and everything came together nicely. We have an old crock pot and it has served us well. I pulled it out and loaded it up. I set it on low just like the recipe said and checked on it about half an hour later and everything was looking good. I went about my business.
An hour or so later we were getting ready to go to my son’s basketball game and I checked on the crock pot to make sure everything was ok before we left. It was stone cold. I looked at the dial and I couldn’t be sure but it looked like it might have accidentally turned off. So I turned it to high and hoped for the best as we headed out for the game.
We were joking in the car on the way over and my son was saying what if the crockpot really is broken, do we get to have hamburgers for supper? I don’t think he was so excited about my cassoulet. Then at the game he rocked it, he played the best game he had ever had. My husband said to me at half time, I don’t care what really happens, that crock pot is broken and we are taking him for hamburgers!
It was like a self-fulfilling prophecy, when we got home it was still cold. So everything went into the fridge, we went for burgers and then we went and got a new a slow cooker.
Fast forward 24 hours, the new slow cooker was ready to go. All the ingredients went inside and it was almost like magic, it started to snow. We went off to church with supper cooking and I was praying that everything would work out and it did. It was like it was meant to be, we got home with all the snow fresh on the ground and my house smelled amazing. It was so cozy to be inside snuggled up with our warm dinner ready.
The only thing I did differently from the recipe below was include a can of white kidney beans instead of red. That’s only because I wanted a different colour really.
So, here’s the giveaway. I’m really excited to give one of you this book. And now that I have a new slow cooker with a removable crock we can explore together all the wonderful new recipes inside. I can’t wait to try the baking, which wasn’t an option for me with my old crock pot. I will open the contest up to residents of Canada and the US, except for residents of Quebec. Click on the link below to enter.
And to give you a head start the lovely Ladies from the Best of Bridge have allowed me to give you this recipe below, I hope you enjoy it.
Easier and less fancy than the traditional version of this French bean stew, our “cheater” cassoulet is simple enough for weekday dining.
6 bacon slices, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
12 oz or 375g kielbasa or other smoked sausage, sliced
8 oz or 250g boneless pork chops, trimmed and cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) pieces
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 tsp or 5ml dried thyme
3 cans (each 14 oz/398 ml) red kidney beans, rinsed and drained (4 and half cups/1.125 L)
1 can (14 oz/398 ml) diced tomatoes drained
2 tbsp or 30ml tomato paste
1 ½ cups or 375ml of chicken stock or ready to use chicken broth
In a skillet, cook bacon over medium-high heat until it begins to release its fat. Add onions and sauté until onions are softened and bacon begins to crisp. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon mixture to a 4 to 6 quart slow cooker, leaving the fat in the pan.
Cook sausage and pork chops in bacon drippings until browned on all sides. Transfer to the slow cooker, add carrots, celery, bay leaves, thyme, beans, tomatoes and tomato paste, tossing to combine. Pour in stock. Cover and cook on low for 5 to 7 hours or until pork is fully cooked, vegetables are tender and sauce is slightly thickened and bubbling. Discard bay leaves.
Serves 6 to 8.
Variation: Traditional cassoulet is made with duck confit, but we skipped it here to make the meal simpler and more affordable. If you’re aiming to impress, brown a couple of duck legs and add them to the slow cooker with the rest of the meat. Chicken legs can be used if duck is not available.