|It’s Legume Season
This is really the time of year where we do our best cooking. In the summer, everything is new and fresh and the menu is changing all the time. In the winter, things tend to change less, and we settle into a more established repertoire. We visit the same dishes over and over, year after year–Cassoulet, Beef and Kimchi Soup, Shaker Corn, Blood Orange Salad and others.
These dishes are like old friends, and like old friends, these dishes change from year to year. The same, but a little different. It never ceases to amaze me how much a dish that we’ve been making for ten years can still be evolving. For example, this year we noticed the tarbais are more creamy and easier to cook when they’re a year old. The past four years, we’d been using beans dried only a few months earlier. We continue to make other tweaks too: we discovered we like super-fresh bread crumbs instead of dried, to give the crust a chewy-crunchy texture; we tweaked the Toulouse sausage recipe; the duck confit cure is better than in years past. A lot of thought has gone into the cassoulet over the years.
Cassoulet should reliably be on the menu at least through Valentine’s Day. After that, we sometimes get tired of making it and usually take it off the menu. It’s sometimes hard to remember that the dishes we feel like retiring for the season have not yet been had be all who want it. For this reason, we’ll keep it going until March, when it will be time to start thinking about Zurek and tropical foods.