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Cassoulet [Wolfert recipes] - help with too salty!

 
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Joan Wade



Joined: 25 Jan 2007
Posts: 13

PostPosted: Fri Sep 12, 2008 10:59 pm    Post subject: Cassoulet [Wolfert recipes] - help with too salty! Reply with quote

I have had problems with recipes from Paula Wolfert using salt port, and/or pork rind/skin. The other night the problem fell into a fava bean cassoulet of Chef Daguin in Auch, Gascony, from her lovely book Cooking of the Southwest of France. I love Paula, and her books, but there is, nonetheless, something I can't solve here. Michael's wisdom usually helps.
For this cassoulet, I used ventreche, and duck confit from d'Artagnan; fresh pork skin from local butcher simmered 15 minutes; fava beans fresh frozen from Int'l foods. Chicken stock 'natural' in carton - maybe it had too much salt?
Of course, I could try it again with less pork skin, but it's that sultry flavor that causes her to include it in the first place, yes? This is an expensive dish to experiment with and I would like to have some semblance of reliability since I intend to prepare it again soon.
Thanks, as always
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Michael Chu



Joined: 10 May 2005
Posts: 1635
Location: Austin, TX (USA)

PostPosted: Sat Sep 13, 2008 10:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So, you didn't add any additional salt as you were preparing the dish?

If that's the case, then you'll probably need to swap some ingredients out for ones from less salty sources. The broth, as you mentioned, is often a prime culprit. I've tried a lot of the broths on the market and really only like one. You'd think the natural stuff tastes the best, but I also find they taste really tinny, too salty, or a little like dirt/soil (and not in a good way like truffles). My favorite is the Swanson low sodium chicken broth - good clean flavor without too much salt. Even then, it's plenty salty - so if I need unsalted broth, I reach into my freezer for chicken stock that I've prepared myself unsalted but flavorful from the long simmer with chicken bones to extract the gelatin and spices like garlic, peppercorns, and bay leaves.

Look at the label on the chicken stock and see how much sodium there is. For reference, there are 7 g of sodium for every tablespoon of table salt (about 2.3 g per teaspoon).
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IndyRob



Joined: 17 Dec 2006
Posts: 77

PostPosted: Sun Sep 14, 2008 12:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have zero experience with cassoulets or ventreche, but I note from a quick search that ventreche comes in two forms. A salt cured pork belly, and a smoked pork belly without salt (ventrache fumee).

Clearly, the substitution of the former for the latter in a recipe could result in too much saltiness. But the nature of your post leads me to believe that you're very careful in selecting ingredients, so I suspect that this is not the case.

This leads me back to a very simple precept which I think is important for all cooks: Taste every new ingredient first (even if you have to cut off a small portion and cook it). In this case, you will know where the saltiness is coming from.

If you find that the saltiness is coming from the meat, then you can explore blanching options which are typically used (in the U.S.) to take some of the smoke/salt out of standard bacon to make it more like, say, pancetta or basic pork belly.
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DrBiggles



Joined: 12 May 2005
Posts: 355
Location: Richmond, CA

PostPosted: Mon Sep 15, 2008 3:05 pm    Post subject: Re: Cassoulet [Wolfert recipes] - help with too salty! Reply with quote

Joan Wade wrote:
I have had problems with recipes from Paula Wolfert using salt port, and/or pork rind/skin. The other night the problem fell into a fava bean cassoulet of Chef Daguin in Auch, Gascony, from her lovely book Cooking of the Southwest of France. I love Paula, and her books, but there is, nonetheless, something I can't solve here. Michael's wisdom usually helps.
For this cassoulet, I used ventreche, and duck confit from d'Artagnan; fresh pork skin from local butcher simmered 15 minutes; fava beans fresh frozen from Int'l foods. Chicken stock 'natural' in carton - maybe it had too much salt?
Of course, I could try it again with less pork skin, but it's that sultry flavor that causes her to include it in the first place, yes? This is an expensive dish to experiment with and I would like to have some semblance of reliability since I intend to prepare it again soon.
Thanks, as always


Two things. One, have you compared the recipe to others? Ingredients and procedures in cookbooks aren't always prepared by a home chef or cook. Second, while this won't help with reproducing Paula's recipe, if you run in to a dish that turns out too salty, slice up a russet potato, maybe 1/2" thick and simmer for 10 to 20 (probably 20) in the liquid. Taste it, you'll notice the salty bite is greatly reduced or gone altogether. Remove potato.

Biggles
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Joan Wade



Joined: 25 Jan 2007
Posts: 13

PostPosted: Fri Sep 26, 2008 2:38 pm    Post subject: cassoulet too salty Reply with quote

Thanks! My grandmother taught me that, And I had forgotten it. Will do!
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Joan Wade



Joined: 25 Jan 2007
Posts: 13

PostPosted: Fri Sep 26, 2008 2:57 pm    Post subject: salty cassoulet - Thanks Michael. You always help me!!!!!!! Reply with quote

Michael Chu wrote:
So, you didn't add any additional salt as you were preparing the dish?

If that's the case, then you'll probably need to swap some ingredients out for ones from less salty sources. The broth, as you mentioned, is often a prime culprit. I've tried a lot of the broths on the market and really only like one. You'd think the natural stuff tastes the best, but I also find they taste really tinny, too salty, or a little like dirt/soil (and not in a good way like truffles). My favorite is the Swanson low sodium chicken broth - good clean flavor without too much salt. Even then, it's plenty salty - so if I need unsalted broth, I reach into my freezer for chicken stock that I've prepared myself unsalted but flavorful from the long simmer with chicken bones to extract the gelatin and spices like garlic, peppercorns, and bay leaves.

Look at the label on the chicken stock and see how much sodium there is. For reference, there are 7 g of sodium for every tablespoon of table salt (about 2.3 g per teaspoon).
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