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Kerns Holler Cassoulet

This is one tasty dish, and if you ain't never tried it, you ought to. And if you have tried it, you ought to make some for yourself.

The secret to makin' a good cassoulet is to cook it in the oven with the pot open, and every time a crust forms on top, push it back down in there with a big ol' spoon. You do that and them beans'll get all carmelized and sweeten the pot.

Soak a pound of dry white beans overnight (less if you don't mind fartin') and pour out that water.

Grill up a chicken and a half a dozen or more sausages (grillin' gets it a nice smoky flavor that weaker versions ain't got).

Cook up a pound of bacon. Some parts of the country they put in ham or a ham hock. Some of them Frenchies say you ought to put in a real old hamhock that's goin' just a little bad. Tater says don't you dare.

Now, some folks will cook a big ol onion in that bacon fat until it's brownin', and that's fine, but Tater don't never need one. Sometimes Tater'll grate two or three carrots in there for that extra sweetness, and carrots go real good with bay leaves.

Now, they's some say it gotta have lamb too, and should be a duck and not a chicken. They don't live in the holler where you can't get no ducks and lamb. They can cook their own. But if Tater does get his hands on a great big lamb bone, he'll boil that up and use lamb broth.

Take the skin and bones of the chicken and boil em up with some bay leaves and thyme to make the cookin' juice, about two quarts. Boil the hell out of them bones and skin. Tater puts in some Knorr bouillon cubes to give it salt, but some folks just like to salt it.

Mix all them dry ingredients up in a big ol' pot and pour on enough broth to come right up near the top of the meat and beans, and put it in the oven at 300 degrees or so. Keep pushin' the top crust down in there. You're gonna cook it for about 6 hours. Add more broth as it evaporates, and if you run out of broth, use up some of that white wine ain't so good no more. You can put in sherry too if you like.

You'll know when it's ready, tell you what.

– recipe by Tater Gumfries