Bastille Day has always been special for me, not just because of my life time love of the French kitchen, but because we loved making it a very special night at Mistress Augustine’s. It was not just the food, but it was the hand painted menus, the staff in costume, even, sometimes entertainment. The fabulous Sarah Munn [Fino Vino and Fino Seppeltsfield] who danced the can can. Both Sarah and David worked at Mistress, Sarah front-of-house and David Kitchen. Then of course the fun loving Shirley Vfellegari controlled the whole night.
We always had goose at Mistress Augustine’s at Christmas. Killed illegally they were smothered and hung in our coolroom, feathers on, for two weeks. Plucked outside at the kitchen door the fat laden intestines were removed and frozen. This was before the days of vac machines. That fat was rendered shortly after Christmas and frozen for the July Cassoulet.
Cassoulet was not usually served at our Bastille Day dinners but for two weeks in July the Cassoulet was our special. After a couple of years it was no longer listed on the specials and regulars would book their portion well in advance…..for four persons, for six and the maximum eight.
By the time the cassoulets were eaten they had a goose fat crust as brittle as glass and so fantastically deliciously crunchy. For at least four days it was splashed with more goose fat and returned to the oven. Black crusted on the edges, so ugly and so delicious. In the last few years in the absence of goose or duck fat we have replaced the fat with equally tasty lard. The crust is a point of issue with many chefs, but I think the crust is mandatory.
There is no argument about this recipe…it is my recipe originally based on Cassoulet de Castelnaudary II, published in the first English edition of Larousse Gastronomique, published by Hamlyn 1977, p194. Over forty years I have omitted the lamb/mutton and replaced it with beef and tweaked the dish slightly to suit what I can organise.
It is a three day process to just make the cassoulet and a few days longer to get the perfect crust.
Astonishingly after forty years of Bastille Day dinners I have no pictures of the food.
BEFORE YOU EVEN START THE SHOPPING please read   and  below CLICK HERE.
AO 1 JULY 2023
1kg haricot or navy beans soaked overnight in cold water
600g meaty spek, no skin cut into 1 cm cubes
the onion from the roast duck
100g garlic, p/w no germ, finely chopped
500g p/w carrots, small dice
1kg pork sausage 
1kg pork neck, trimmed weight, cut into 2cm cubes
1kg gravy beef or chuck steak, trimmed, cut into 2cm cubes
1 roast duck 
3 bay leaves
1/2 bunch thyme, stalked and finely chopped
small handfull curly parsley, stalked and chopped
6 sprigs French Tarragon, stalked
1L Olive’s tomato sauce
50g sweet paprika
10g freshly ground black pepper
65g Mutti organic tomato paste
1L reduced chicken or pork stock
150g fresh white breadcrumbs 
100g panko breadcrumbs
500g molten lard, duck or goose fat
plus 250g molten lard, duck or goose fat for brushing the crust
 I love to keep my skills up by making the sausages but if you’d like to cheat a bit any good quality chunky pork sausage will do. Or, you could even use a nice fatty Polish sausage…although hard to find these days.
 Cooking the duck is the easy part finding a quality fresh duck the hard part. Certainly you will need to order.
 You cannot make fresh white breadcrumbs with shit bread from the supermarket…think it through!
Start when you have all of the ingredients assembled..noting that the roast duck and sausages will have been done well in advance and the haricot soaked in cold water the night before you start. Select a large shallow heavy based pan with a lid.
Put the pan on low heat and add the spek. When it starts to render, add the duck onion, the garlic and carrot and cook on gentle heat until everything is caramelised.
Prick the sausages with the tip of a sharp knife and add them to the pot. Turn the heat down and cover with the lid. After about 10 minutes, turn the sausages and cover again. When they are cooked remove them from the pot. Allow them to cool, remove the skins, slice them in about 15mm chunks and set to one side.
Add the meats to the pot and cook on medium heat until it is grey on all sides. Add the duck cook for a further few minutes, then add the herbs and tomato sauce. Bring up to heat, then stir through the paprika, pepper and tomato paste.
Turn the heat down. Drain and rinse the beans and add them to the pot. Bring up to heat and then add the stock in small amounts until completely incorporated. Return the sausage to the pot.
In the next hours you may need to add small amounts of water to keep the cassoulet moist. NEVER add more water than about 100ml at a time. Cover with a cartouche and then the lid.
Pre heat the oven to 120°C
and set the rack in the middle of the oven. It will take three to four hours until the pork and beef are tender. Check every 30 minutes adding water as required.
The cassoulet is cooked when the meats are tender and the beans perfect.
NOW it is time to choose your serving dishes. Ideally I’d divide this into two. Fill your chosen dishes to within 2cm of the top edge and smooth the top.
Mix together the fresh and panko breadcrumbs, season lightly and toss over. Add the molten lard and toss over until it is absorbed. Put the breadcrumbs on top, spread them evenly and press them down firmly. Refrigerate.
the next day
pre heat oven to 180°C
Spray the top of your cassoulets generously with cold water, put them in the oven and set a timer for 40 minutes. When the timer goes remove the cassoulets from the oven and stand them on a rack until they are cold when touching the bottom of the dishes. Return to the fridge.
the next day
pre heat the oven to 180°C
Melt the remaining lard and brush the top with the lard and spray the top with cold water. Put them in the oven and set a timer for 40 minutes. When the timer goes remove the cassoulets from the oven and stand them on a rack until they are cold when touching the bottom of the dishes. Return to the fridge.
Repeat the last step at least two more times.
pre heat the oven to 180°C
Generously spray the top of your cassoulet with cold water and put it to the oven. Set a timer for 30 minutes, spray the top with cold water again and resturn to the oven for another 30 minutes. This
MENU COVER CHAMPAGNE DINNER WINDY POINT RESTAURANT 2011
BASTILLE DAY & CHAMPAGNE
Matching Wine and Champagne to food became my passion and my skill. This skill allowed me to taste some incredible wines and Champagnes. What I came to understand was that it was about the beverage, not about me. My job was to make the wines and Champagnes even more amazing by clicking the perfect match. How lucky I have been!
Post Mistress Augustine’s where every diner received a hand painted menu as a souvenir. In the later years of my cooking the original artwork for the menu cover became a seat prize.
I am humbled that so many are treasured.