I'm convinced Ina Garten's kitchen is magic. She whips up roasted vegetable lasagnas and chocolate sea salt cookies effortlessly, and her holiday cocktail party menu involves handmade French chocolate bark and roasted figs wrapped in prosciutto. But there's one food too time-consuming and labor-intensive for even Ina Garten to cook at home, even though it's one of her favorites: cassoulet.
Cassoulet is a classic French "peasant dish" from the Languedoc region in southern France. It's a crusty, slow-cooked casserole made of beans and multiple kinds of meat. It's quite possibly the ultimate comfort food, but it's a long, slow, multi-step process that takes days to complete. Even Ina Garten thinks it's too much to make at home.
"There are so many dishes I love to make at home," she said in an interview on Today. "But there are some things I just don't make at home. I order them in restaurants, like cassoulet. Things that take, like, days to make and they're so good. But they have a whole team of people to help them and it's just me."
It's heartening to know that even Ina Garten finds cassoulet too time-consuming to make at home. I've always wanted to make cassoulet — it seems like one of those "must make" dishes to level up as a cook, like boeuf bourguignon or a perfect roasted chicken — but I never even got past the "make your own duck confit" part of the recipe. There are just so many steps, and the whole project winds up taking days. Cassoulet is a wonderful way to feed 12 people and keep them full and happy all day, but it's not exactly an easy weeknight apartment meal for two.
Knowing how time-consuming cassoulet is to cook makes it seem even more special when you do get the opportunity to eat it. I order cassoulet almost every time I see it on a restaurant menu, because it's so good, and knowing how long it takes to cook makes it feel like an even bigger treat. It's good to know that even food queen Ina Garten says that if you don't want to spend days cooking cassoulet by yourself, buying it from a restaurant is fine.
What's the one dish you'd never make?