It has been cold. This should come as no shock to most, if not all of you. This of course means I have been making lots of soups, stews and chilies (Is that honestly the plural of chili? Spell check says so; must be true). Though, I have to admit that it hit 72 degrees in St. Louis the other day, but it is cold again now.
I have been rather busy recently keeping to a pretty rigorous exercise regimen and actually writing my dissertation. I have over 3 pages of that done! Small start I know, but every single word is one step closer to being finished. Anyway, with those two big time sucks, I have been using and abusing my slow cooker. I recently purchased a slow cooker cookbook with nothing but low-cal meals. On what I knew would be a particularly cold day, I decided to try out the pork cassoulet. This meal has pork three different ways: bacon, smoked pork sausage and pork tenderloin and it is somehow still low-cal! If you are like me, you get frequent desires for meat, you may choose to view that as a double entendre or not. But seriously, I will often feel an intense need for more protein in my diet often the day after some heavy weightlifting. This meal definitely satisfies that craving. It is incredibly hearty without making you feel heavy. The ingredients are actually pretty simple but it is full of flavor. And literally, after frying up a couple slices of bacon, you cut up the rest of the ingredients, bung ‘em all in the slow cooker, turn it on low and come back 5 hours later to the perfect post weightlifting winter meal. It goes great with some nice, crusty bread, though I served it with some leftover low-cal corn muffins (recipe to come). So, on your next cold day or perhaps for the Super Bowl, make a pork cassoulet. Ha! That rhymed, and it is only 249 calories per 1 cup serving!
Smoked Sausage Cassoulet
Adapted from Cooking Light: Slow Cooker Tonight
2 bacon slices
2 cups chopped onion (2 medium onions)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried rosemary
4-5 garlic cloves minced
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper – I put in more because I love black pepper
2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes
2 (15 oz) cans Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 lb lean bonless pork tenderloin trimmed of all visible fat and cut into 1 inch cubes
½ lb reduced fat smoked sausage cut into ½ inch cubes
8 teaspoons grated Parmesan cheese
8 teaspoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1. Cook bacon in large skillet until crisp. Remove bacon and place on towels to drain grease. When cool enough to handle crumble it up into little bits. Do NOT get rid of grease in pan.
2. Add onion, thyme, rosemary and garlic to the bacon drippings in pan and sauté until the onions are tender. Stir in bacon, salt, pepper and tomatoes. Bring to boil and remove from heat.
3. Place half the beans in a large bowl and mash with a potato masher until chunky. Add remaining half of beans, pork and sausage with the mashed beans and stir to mix.
4. Place half of bean pork mixture in slow cooker, place half of tomato mixture on top of that, put the rest of the bean-pork mixture on top of that and then the rest of the tomato mixture.
5. Put the cover on the slow cooker, turn on low and let cook for 5 hours.
6. When ready to serve, sprinkle with one teaspoon Parmesan and one teaspoon parsley.