Cacolet is an extremely complex dish that can take up to three days to complete, and is made up of various pieces of meat from pigs and ducks alongside white beans. While the origin of this dish is unknown, with some people suspecting it is perhaps a result of Daendroque or Ithanian influences, its modern presence is undoubtable. While considered too unrefined by upper class society, the dish is widely enjoyed by peasants and commoners from Daen to Corontium, as it is a hearty, hot meal and one best eaten with a group.
Cacolet has a relatively unknown history, as most in the modern day have little to no idea how a dish as complex and layered as Cacolet could have come into being. There are two theories, and both involve mainland Daen. The first suggests that upon contact with Daendroque sailors, the Tolonne acquired the cassole, the pottery vessel that the dish is most commonly made with and suspected to help form the origin of its name. It was then from the Daendroque people that other bean soups and stews were altered and morphed over time into the modern Cacolet, a construct formed from decades of culinary work prior to 200 AC. The other theory, however, suggests that cassoles had already existed on Solacia for centuries, as they were a form of dish invented by the Altalar. Instead, Cacolet is suspected to have been the invention of Vincenç Pòntnuèit, the famed Troubadour who traveled to Ithania. While there, he acquired much in the way of culinary knowledge and upon returning, became well known for his unique meals and his family of Ithanians. People suggest it was he who crafted the dish in his later years based on his experience in the decadent, complex kitchens and food of the Ithanian people. Regardless of who originally invented it, what is certain is that in 200 AC, the dish was widespread across a number of lower-class populations in Daen and Corontium, eventually infiltrating areas of Anglia in 210 AC where it has remained a special, but appreciated, dish not often made on the daily (especially considering its average three-day creation time). Today, Cacolet is enjoyed by many commoners across Aloria for its layered nature and often communal consumption.
Cacolet may be peasant food, but its long and complex preparation process is considered by many a standout feature. First, the beans need to be fully covered and soaked in cold water for at least eight hours. This is often done overnight. The beans then need to be boiled quickly and hard for five minutes before being drained and thrown into a new pot. These beans also need to be fully covered in water and again, boiled hard and fast for five minutes before being taken off of the heat, with the beans removed and water dumped. Once this is done, the chicken stock or broth should be brought to a boil in a different or perhaps the same pot in order to save time. The beans should be added into the chicken liquid as the boil is established, with any scum forming being skimmed off. The heat should then be reduced to a simmer and the dish allowed to cook for up to an hour, or until the beans are tender but whole. As this happens, the meats should be cut and properly divided up into smaller pieces, with the duck legs broken at the joints to form two thighs and two drumsticks. The salt pork should be taken and, with the garlic cloves, beat together into a paste. The paste should then be stored in a cool place for use later on.
Next, the remaining pieces of meat need to be cooked. The duck should be placed skin down in a large frying pan over medium to high heat and cooked until golden brown, with between five to ten minutes for each side. The sausage should undergo the same process, with browning on each side, though the process will take under five minutes. Finally, the pork belly or shoulder should be cooked until all the sides are brown, the process taking about three minutes. All of this meat should be put aside and allowed to cool. Meanwhile, the beans must be removed from their heat and allowed to cool after the hour has passed, which will take a further hour. Then, the beans need to be seasoned with the nutmeg, salt and paste, all slowly stirred into the brothed-up beans. Afterward, the beans need to be drained of the liquid still around them in the pot, though this liquid should still be kept for later. The cooking vessel must now be prepared, this ideally being a cassole. If the pork skin is used in the dish’s creation, it should be used to line the bottom of the cooking vessel. From here, the Cacolet can be assembled. Half of the beans should form the base, with the duck and pork meat following after. Then, the remaining beans should be poured over the top, with the sausages put on top and gently nestled into the top layer of beans until only their top portion is showing.
Now, the bean-broth liquid comes back into play, with a small portion poured on top of the dish to the point that it just barely covers the beans before being set aside again for later. This is followed by the addition of the black pepper on top of the dish. The next step is to bake the dish, uncovered, for three hours on a medium to high heat. While this takes place, a brown crust will form on the top, which should carefully be broken into two to three times, and more of the bean cooking liquid spooned over it to moisten the dish’s surface. The layers below the top one should not be broken into, and if the beans on top are looking dry at any point, the cooking liquid should be added to moisten them. Finally, the dish can be removed and left to cool to room temperature before being stored and left in a cold place overnight. In the morning, the dish must again be cooked at a high to medium heat, only this time for just an hour and a half. Again, its surface must be moistened during the process and after it is done cooking, it can be served. However, some prefer to do the exact same process for another day, with another round of cooking for the same time and more moistening.
- Cacolet tends to look rather interesting, as before being pierced, it has a layer of moisture on top of a pale surface with edges or curves of the sausage protruding above the surface.
- Cacolet strongly has the smell of beans, but also pork and garlic due to its usage in the creation of the dish.
- Due to the layered nature of Cacolet, individual bites can taste different depending on the meat being eaten, though the beans are consistent as is the slight taste of garlic.
- Another rumor, though largely discounted, is that Cacolet was devised by a group of starving Tolonne Ailor after their conflict with the Varran. They pooled their resources together into a communal cooking pot, ate the result, reheated it the next day, and later worked to refine the dish into what it is now.