Mounjetado/Mongetado – cassoulet in Ariège


There are a lot of recipes for cassoulet here in the southwest of France. Castelnaudary, Carcassonne or Toulouse fight for the crown of the best recipe or the most original one.

Cassoulet is a hearty dish and meant for winter, but restaurants here serve it to tourists in the summer when a lighter diet may be called for.

The origin of the dish goes far beyond the introduction of freezers and other electric appliances, and even before that tomatoes became known in France in the 16th century.

This means that most meats are salted or confit — preserved in fat.

In the mounjetado or “estouffad de mounges” (slowly cooked beans) here in the Ariège people use “coustellous” (salted spare ribs), dried liver sausage and another sausage made from pig’s rind – the couenne.

In my version, I used spare ribs (less salty), dropped the liver sausage and added confit de canard – because I had made that previously – and fresh sausage.

No tomatoes here, but onions and carrots.

The white beans had been prepared in season and stored away.

This dish does not call for an entrée or dessert.

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Cod, cabbage and chorizo

Although I now live in a small village near the Pyrenees mountains, I can get good fish at a fishmonger in Mirepoix.

The cod filet looked too great to resist. Cod can be bland and I usually spice it up a bit.

I had some chorizo left that I had bought at butcher’s who said he made them himself.

The cabbage came from the fresh market.

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Portuguese cabbage soup Caldo Verde

Many national dishes have humble origins and are unlikely to grace any fancy recipe book next to gastronomic courses with noble products.

With water, potato and this cabbage the northern Portuguese made Caldo Verde, green broth, and Portuguese all over the world still eat it with pleasure and as an antidote against homesickness.

Most people are poor and have been poor over the centuries and these people did their best with what was available.

The Dutch, for instance, eat kale and endive as vegetables while elsewhere these greens are only good to feed cattle.

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