Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Big Finish

2010 may be gone, but I can still smell the simmering duck fat...the mark of a successful year, or at least a successful NYE celebration, in my book.

As is becoming the habit these days, we opted out of a big to-do for New Year's Eve and decided to spend it coccooned in our apartment with our little family unit. I had gotten it into my head that I wanted to make cassoulet - a French meat and bean stew that has been bouncing around in my head for a few years now - and in a grand romantic gesture my husband suggested that we celebrate the end of 2010 by cooking together. Sigh. I love that guy.

Cassoulet is no 30-minute meal. In fact, I went for the "Easy Cassoulet" recipe in my Gourmet cookbook instead of the two-day standard ordeal, and "Easy" in this case pared the active time down to a mere four hours. E's new affinity for independent play sure came in handy, as there aren't a lot of tasks in cassoulet-making that are toddler friendly, apart from tying together a bouqet garni. No, there's far too much slicing of meats and spattering of duck fat for little bodies...or for anyone tending towards the vegetarian lifestyle for that matter.

The whole affair went off without a hitch, with more than a few kisses, some energy-building chocolate, quite a bit of sweating and no trace of blood or tears. It was an absolutely exquisite way to spend New Year's Eve, if you ask me, and J even suggested that we make cooking together on NYE an annual tradition. Double sigh. Hands off, ladies.

Lucky for you, we took some photos so you can follow along. Just have a napkin handy for the drool...

The sous chef

At one point E informed us that she was taking her frogs and going to the park. If those boots hadn't been so tricky, we might have had a problem.

Beans simmering with duck bones. Quack.

Many knives were dirtied in the quest for the perfect sausage slicer.

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