Main Dish

Provençal Cassoulet

J. Rickards Winery

24505 Chianti Road
Cloverdale, CA 95425

A part of the lamb that is often overlooked, the ends of the legs are wonderfully flavorful and take well to long, slow cooking. Combined with white beans, they are excellent eating. A salad of crisp greens tossed with grated carrot and chopped red onion would go well with this substantial dish, along with a glass of J. Rickards Malbec.

  • 3 cans Great Northern or cannellini beans
  • 12 garlic cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 or 4 meaty lamb shanks, cut in half by your butcher
  • 1 tablespoon crushed fresh rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup J. Rickards Malbec, plus more as needed
  • 1 1/2 cups beef broth
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 6 thick-cut bacon slices
  • 2/3 cup dried bread crumbs


Open the cans of beans and pour into a bowl with their liquid. Chop 1 garlic clove and add to the bowl along with the bay leaf. Let stand while you prepare the lamb.

Cut 2 of the garlic cloves into slivers, make incisions in the lamb shanks and stuff the garlic into them. Rub the shanks with 2 teaspoons of the rosemary and the salt. 

In a deep, heavy fry pan or sauté pan over medium-high heat, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the lamb shanks and brown on all sides, turning with tongs and sprinkling with pepper as they cook. Add the remaining rosemary, the wine and broth and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 1 hour.

In another fry pan or sauté pan over medium heat, warm the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the onions are soft.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Drain the beans, reserving the liquid. Finely chop the remaining garlic cloves. Transfer the lamb shanks to a plate and remove as much fat from the cooking liquid as possible. 

Layer half of the beans in an 8-quart braising pan or casserole. Top with a layer of the onions and the chopped garlic. Put the lamb shanks on top. Add the remaining beans and the lamb cooking liquid. If there is not enough liquid to cover the shanks, add some of the reserved bean liquid and more water or wine. Lay the bacon slices on top. 

Transfer to the oven and cook for 1 hour. 

Meanwhile, in a fry pan over medium heat, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Add the bread crumbs and toss to coat, then remove from the heat. Remove the cassoulet from the oven and sprinkle the crumbs over the top. Return to the oven and cook until the crumbs are golden, about 20 minutes more. Serve directly from the pan.

Alternatively, after browning the lamb shanks, add the rosemary and liquids. Cover and braise them, on their own, in a 350°F oven for a total of 2 hours. When the shanks are cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones. Assemble the meat with the beans, onions, garlic, liquids and bacon slices as instructed above, then cook in the 350°F oven for 30 minutes. Top with the buttered bread crumbs and cook for 20 minutes more.

J. Rickards Winery

24505 Chianti Road
Cloverdale, CA 95425