- 2 1/4 pounds fresh cranberry beans, shelled (3 cups)
- Kosher salt
- 12 thyme sprigs, tied together with butcher's string, plus 1 tablespoon chopped thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
- 3 large leeks, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise 1/2 inch thick
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup crème fraîche
- 1 tablespoon chopped marjoram
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
How to make this recipe
In a large soup pot, cover the cranberry beans with 3 quarts of cold water. Add 1 tablespoon of kosher salt, the bundle of thyme sprigs and the bay leaves. Bring to a simmer and cook over moderate heat until the beans are tender, about 40 minutes. Drain the beans and discard the thyme sprigs and bay leaves.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, pour 4 cups of boiling water over the dried porcini and let stand until the mushrooms are soft, about 15 minutes. Remove the mushrooms and squeeze them dry over the bowl; reserve the soaking liquid. Coarsely chop the mushrooms.
Preheat the oven to 375°. Position a rack in the top third of the oven. Slowly pour the mushroom soaking liquid into a large saucepan, discarding the last bit of gritty liquid. Add the porcini, leeks, butter and 2 teaspoons of salt. Bring to a simmer and cook over moderate heat until the leeks are very tender and the liquid has thickened slightly, about 35 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in the crème fraîche, 2 teaspoons of the chopped thyme, 2 teaspoons of the chopped marjoram and the reserved beans. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the bean mixture to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
In a small bowl, toss the <em>panko</em> with the olive oil and the remaining 1 teaspoon each of chopped thyme and marjoram; season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the <em>panko</em> over the beans. Bake for about 40 minutes, until the beans are bubbling and the <em>panko</em> is browned. Remove the cassoulet from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes. Spoon into warm bowls and serve.
The cassoulet can be prepared through Step 3 and refrigerated overnight. Bring to room temperature before topping and baking.
Hearty and earthy, this vegetarian cassoulet will pair well with the same sort of wine as a traditional cassouleta substantial red from France's Rhône Valley.