Cassoulet Museum

Cassoulet Museum

Labelled a ‘Musée de France’, you can find out everything about Castelnaudary Cassoulet.


Trying to trace the history of Cassoulet is no mean feat when you know the heated discussions that can result! However, iconographic analysis, cookbooks, medical treatises, archaeology, and local history, provide us with many clues that allow us to understand the birth of this mythical dish and its evolution.

The origins of Cassoulet date back to the Middle Ages. It was then described as a stew, a meat dish in a sauce that simmered for a long time near the fire. A great culinary work appeared in the 14th century: ‘Le Viandier ‘ was written by Taillevant, whose real name was Guillaume Tirel, who had cooked for several kings over 60 years. In his work, which was probably dictated, Taillevant gave pride of place to pâtés and stews, including a mutton and pork stew with beans. Food historians believe that Taillevant could have been inspired by an Arabic work written by Mohamed of Baghdad in 1226, which revealed an extremely refined cuisine. This book featured a range of spices, herbs, legumes and mutton. Some historians believe that Cassoulet originates with the Arabs. In the 7th century, they would have introduced in the culture of a white bean in the south of France and would have taught the local residents how to prepare this legume. Mutton stew with white bean is one of the recipes in the Baghdad Cookery Book. Taillevant used this recipe in his Viandier.


Culinary traditions evolved considerably until the 17th century, which was considered the great century of French cuisine. Cassoulet, which then bore the name ‘estouffet’ or ‘stew’, officially took its name during the 18th century.
In 1836, the first industrial Cassoulet production site was established in Castelnaudary. This was Bouissou’s, which produced the ‘La Renommée ’ brand, and around 1880, tributes to Cassoulet flourished, including this anonymous song:

Each place has its own delicacies…

And praises its own delights
Lagrasse has its grey partridges
Villasavary sucks it melons
Albi gilds its gimblettes (biscuits)
Limoux sparkles its blanquette
… and Castelnaudary alone has the Cassoulet.

In 1929, Proposer Montagné, a famous chef in Paris, from Carcassonne, recognised the supremacy of Castelnaudary Cassoulet in his work entitled ‘Le Festin Occitan’: ‘Cassoulet is the God of Occitan cuisine.

A God in three persons: God the Father, the Castelnaudary Cassoulet, God the son, the Carcassonne and the Holy Spirit, the Toulouse’. There seems to be no doubt, therefore, that Cassoulet was created in the Lauragais, and, as we know, it came from a rustic stew, which all in all, could have been made anywhere and which, over time, could have had regional variations, like in Carcassonne or Toulouse. But Castelnaudary had the cassole and the ingot bean and knew how to perfect the recipe, which was made official in 1909. The Chaurien tradition gave this dish an unparalleled flavour by cooking it in a baker’s oven, heated with wood from the Montagne Noire. To make it even tastier and more special, it is recommended that the beans are soaked in water from the ‘Co d’en Sens ’, a spring that has fed the town since 1853!

Since the Middle Ages, Castelnaudary and the Lauragais have been able to preserve a popular legend which has made Cassoulet the emblematic culinary heritage of this town and this small ‘region’.

Perched at the top of the town, the Lauragais Museum is housed in the former prison.

The Lauragais Museum was built when Catherine de Medici, Countess of Lauragais, made Castelnaudary a Sénéchaussée, a royal court governed by a seneschal, with the king’s consent. A civil and criminal justice court, called ‘Présidial ’, was then built next to the castle. It was completed in 1585. In 1623, Louis XIII had Castelnaudary Castle demolished, but the court operated until 1926. Its presence led to many Toulouse judges and lawyers settling in the town; very beautiful mansions still bear witness to this.

Today the Présidial is a primary school, and the prison has become a ‘Musée de France’. Inside, you can visit the small chapel of Saint Pierre, which contains two magnificent 18th century reliquary-busts. The old cells are used to stage temporary exhibitions.

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The Great Cassoulet Fraternity

The great cassoulet fraternity

It represents Castelnaudary Cassoulet throughout the world

The purpose of the Grande Confrérie is to deliver the prestige, to spread and defend the reputation of Castelnaudary Cassoulet, while ensuring respect for traditions and quality.

To do this, the Grande Confrérie of Castelnaudary Cassoulet monitors the continuing quality in the preparation, responding to the culinary tradition, and organises key Cassoulet events especially in spring, during its annual Grand Chapitre , and in summer, by actively participating in the Fête du Cassoulet.

During these four days, free concerts, street entertainment, gourmet markets, sailing activities on the Canal du Midi, and a floral parade light up the town and, of course, the unmissable Cassoulet tasting proudly reinforces the reputation of ‘Castelnaudary, the World Capital of Cassoulet!’

The Grande Confrérie du Cassoulet of Castelnaudary was founded on 17 January 1970 by the election of the Grand Conseil and the Maître Jean Estève, assisted by André Maté. The first Grand Chapitre was celebrated on 18 April 1970 in Castelnaudary Town Hall. The members appeared for the first time wearing a brown robe and a cap in the shape of a cassole, adorned with a medal, worn as a saltire, representing the town’s coat of arms, the Cugarel Mill and a cassole licked by flames. Since then, all the dignitaries received into the Confrérie have taken the same Occitan oath (the jurat):1970 par l‘élection du Grand Conseil et du Maître Jean Estève, assisté d’André Maté. Le premier Grand Chapitre a été célébré le 18 avril 1970 dans la salle du conseil municipal de Castelnaudary. Les membres sont apparus pour la première fois revêtus de leur robe couleur marron, coiffés d’une toque en forme de cassole et orné d’une médaille, portée en sautoir, représentant en partie les armes de la ville, le Moulin de Cugarel et une cassole léchée par les flammes. Depuis, tous les dignitaires reçus dans la Confrérie prononcent le même serment en occitan (le jurat) :

Yeou, juri de défendré touto la bido e al déla, la calitat é la glorio del gran Cassoulet de Castelnaou ou, qu’al abets, m’en toumbé la testo din bostro Grando Cassolo! Les membres déjà anciens répondent Gardo ta vido, te voulem pla!

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The Recipe

The Recipe

The legend, the recipe...

For 4 people


    • -350 to 400 g of white kidney beans (preferably from the Lauragais region).
    • -2 confit ducks or goose legs, cut in two.
    • -4 pieces (80g) of pure pork Toulouse sausage.
    • -4 pieces (50g) of pork from the knuckle, shoulder or breast.
    • -250 g of pork rind, half to be used after cooking for serving the cassoulet.
    • -A little salted pork fat.
    • -1 chicken carcass or a few bones of pork, plus onions and carrots.



The day before : Soak the beans overnight in cold water..

The next day:

Pour away the water, place the beans in a large saucepan with three litres of water and boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, pour away the water and set aside the beans.

Prepare the stock with 3 litres of water (use soft water, preferably from Castelnaudary), the pork rind cut into wide strips, a chicken carcass if you have one or a few pork bones, and, according to taste, a few onions and carrots. Add salt and pepper (generously). Cook the stock for an hour, then filter and set aside the pork rind.

Add the beans to the filtered stock and cook until they are soft, but still whole. The stock needs to be boiled for about an hour.

While the beans are cooking, prepare the meat:
  • In a large frying pan, brown the confit over a low heat and set aside.
  • In the remaining fat, fry the Toulouse sausages and set aside.
  • Fry the pieces of pork, which should be nice and golden, and set them aside with the rest of the meat.
  • Drain the beans and keep the stock warm. Add a few cloves of garlic and twice their weight in salted lard, all mashed together, to the beans.


Assembling the Cassoulet: Use a deep earthenware dish formerly known as a “cassolo” (and today, a “cassole”), which gave its name to cassoulet, or failing that, a fairly deep earthenware dish that can be used in the oven.
  • Spread the bottom of the dish with the pork rind
  • add about a third of the beans
  • place the meat on top and then add the rest of the beans
  • Add the sausages, pushing them into the beans, but with the top of the sausages still visible
  • Finally, pour the hot stock into the cassole, just enough to cover the beans
  • Add pepper to the surface and a tablespoon of duck fat used to fry the meat.
Cooking :
  • Put in the oven at 150°/160° (Thermostat 5 or 6) and cook for two to three hours.
  • During the cooking a golden brown crust forms at the top of the cassole, which needs to be pushed down several times (seven times, the old folk say).
  • When the top of the beans starts to dry out, add a few spoonfuls of stock.

The cassoulet should be served piping hot in its cassole. Serve carefully without stirring it, as it will taste even better, and don’t hesitate to serve extra helpings. This is a dish that will take you to ordinary people’s gastronomy heaven!

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