Monday, July 1, 2013


The heroine of In Need of Therapy is Cuban-American, so there are a lot of scenes in the novel that involve her eating, cooking, and sharing Cuban dishes. This cuisine reflects Pilar's cultural heritage and is a big part of who she is as a person, so in keeping with the whole food/family theme, I will be posting recipes, stories, and photos from  readers, authors, and bloggers on Books by Banister throughout the month of July. And I'll be giving away a copy of Celebrate Cuban - 100 Great Recipes for Cuban Entertaining by Three Guys From Miami. Details on how to enter the giveaway are highlighted below.

My first guest for the FF&F series is the always-delightful and entertaining Francine LaSala, who's sharing a Classic Cassoulet recipe inspired by her husband's family. My mouth is watering just looking at the photo of this yummy dish!


I’m not French, but I’ve always wanted to be. When I was a kid, I told people that the name “Francine” meant “from France.” Most people also knew my mother, though, so they knew without me telling them that I was really just “from Francine”--also my mother’s name.

Well, even if I couldn’t convince people I was French, I still wanted to be. But I really had no idea that the man who was going to become my husband would be French. His last name is Italian. I had always wanted to be Italian too, so I decided I’d go out with him and give it a shot. It wasn’t until we were dating several weeks that he picked up the phone at his apartment, and it was his mother. Out of nowhere, he started to speak flawless (to my ear, at least), fluent French. Christopher was French! It’s not the only reason I married him, and technically it doesn’t make me French. But hey, my kids are.

The recipe I’m sharing is made in my husband’s family, but my mother-in-law likes to keep her recipes secret. Oh, the French! But this version (adapted from Saveur, first published in Issue #117) is also pretty darn yummy. It’s sort of fancy (fussy/French/whatever), so you have to make it on a day you’re going to be in the house a lot. (Or find a slow-cooker version. Now why didn’t I think of that!)

Enjoy! Or, as “we” Frenchies like to say, bon appetit!

1 pound great northern beans
2/3 cup olive oil
16 cloves garlic, minced
2 onions, roughly chopped
2 carrots, roughly chopped
2 large ham hocks
1 pound pork shoulder, cubed
1⁄2 pound pancetta, cubed
4 sprigs oregano
4 sprigs thyme
3 bay leaves
1 cup whole peeled canned tomatoes
1 cup white wine
2 cups chicken broth
4 confit duck legs
1 pound chicken sausages
2 cups bread crumbs

1. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add half the garlic, onions, and carrots and cook until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add ham hocks and beans and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 1/2 hour.
2. Transfer ham hocks to a plate. Once cool, pull off meat, chop meat, and add to bean mixture.
3. Heat 2 more tablespoons of the olive oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add pork and brown for 8 minutes. Add pancetta and cook for 5 minutes. Add remaining garlic, onions, and carrots and cook another 10 minutes.
4. Tie together the oregano and thyme sprigs with the bay leaves and add to pan. Add tomatoes with liquid and cook until liquid thickens, about 8–10 minutes. Add the wine and reduce the liquid by half. Add broth and bring to a boil.
5. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, uncovered for about 1 hour.
6. About a half-hour in, sear duck legs in 2 tablespoon of the olive oil, then transfer to a plate. Brown sausages in the drippings, about 8 minutes.
7. Cool and then cut sausages into 1⁄2" slices. Pull duck meat off bones. Discard fat and bones. Discard herbs. Stir duck and sausages into pork stew.
8. Heat oven to 300 degrees. Combine beans and stew in an earthenware casserole. Cover with bread crumbs; drizzle with remaining olive oil.
9. Bake, uncovered, for 3 hours.
10. Raise oven temperature to 500 degrees. Broil until crust is golden, about 5 minutes. 

FRANCINE LASALA has written nonfiction on every topic imaginable, from circus freaks to sex, and edited bestselling authors of all genres. She is now actively taking on clients for manuscript evaluations, editing services, copywriting (covers, blurbs, taglines, queries, and more), website and blog creation, and developing kickass social media campaigns.
The author of novels Rita Hayworth’s Shoes and The Girl, The Gold Tooth & Everything, and the creator of The “Joy Jar” Project, she lives with her husband and two daughters in New York.
Find Francine Online:

Enter to win a copy of the cookbook Celebrate Cuban - 100 Great Recipes for Cuban Entertaining by Three Guys From Miami. You can enter up to 6 times using the Rafflecopter widget below. The giveaway will end at midnight on Wednesday, July 31st, and a winner will be announced on Thursday, August 1st. This contest is open to residents of the USA only.

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  1. Great interview and the recipe sounds YUMMY

  2. Looks absolutely delicious, Francine! Merci for sharing! ;)

  3. This does sound good. I just need to hire someone to cook for me. I'm so lazy when it comes to cooking.

  4. Great post and recipe, Francine! Tracie, love the cookbook! FYI: when you decide to move down here to Miami, you can stay in my empty condo while house hunting! It seems to me you want to leave Atlanta. xo cindy

  5. Ooh, that sounds so delicious, Francine. And high-five for the fact that your man speaks fluent French! Very exciting. ;-)

  6. My favorite dish my grandmother made was her chopped chicken liver. Everyone loved it. I wish I had gotten her recipe. I can still smell it, just typing this. My other grandmother was NOT a cook. When we came over as kids, she used to offer us tomato sandwiches. Really? What kid wants to eat that?