West Coast?grown from classic French Tarbais seed stock. The most famous bean for a traditional cassoulet but versatile enough to become an everyday favorite.
Suggestions: Cassoulet, salads, pot beans, casseroles, soups, pasta e fagioli, baked beans, dips
Is it marketing or is it history? Some would argue that a cassoulet isn’t a cassoulet without Tarbais beans. There are many more interesting arguments to be had, but we think once you taste these, you’ll agree that it’s a great bean. Large, white and super-creamy, our Cassoulet Bean is ideally suited to the slow-cooked goodness of a cassoulet. All the various meats and seasonings mingle with the mild but sturdy beans and with a little effort, you have one of the classic dishes of southwest France.
Rather than suffer French prices, which can run up to $30 a pound when out of season, we took seed from France and produced this bean with our distinct terroir here in California. Tarbais beans were developed by generations of farmers in Tarbes, France. The original seed is a New World bean and most likely originated in Mexico. Out of respect for the French farmers and terroir, we’re calling the bean Cassoulet Bean. We think in order to call it Tarbais, it should be grown in southwestern France.
You can follow the classic rules for cassoulet (and we recommend Paula Wolfert’s glorious The Cooking of Southwest France : Recipes from France’s Magnificent Rustic Cuisine or Cassoulet, A French Obsession by Kate Hill), or you can experiment and be creative. A casserole of Cassoulet Beans with odds and ends from your refrigerator and larder, topped with good bread crumbs and dotted with butter before a trip to the oven would be a welcome dish on a winter’s table.
To cook these beans as they would in France, simmer with carrot, onion, garlic, peppercorns, and a bouquet garni (bay leaves, celery leaves, fresh parsley, and/or fresh thyme tied with string or placed in a cheesecloth bag). For an extra-rich broth, throw in a thick slice of pancetta or a ham hock.
Recipes and more information on Cassoulet (Tarbais) Bean at Rancho Gordo.
The Rancho Gordo-Xoxoc Project
The products featured as part of the Rancho Gordo-Xoxoc Project are the results of our two companies working together to help small farmers continue to grow their indigenous crops in Mexico, despite international trade policies that seem to discourage genetic diversity and local food traditions. Rather than just collect seeds and conduct bean trials here in Napa, it dawned on me it would be great to buy the beans directly from the farmers in Mexico who were growing heirloom varieties.
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