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Meat Lite: Moderately Meaty Cassoulet

Editor's note: Philadelphia food writers Joy Manning and Tara Mataraza Desmond drop by each week with Meat Lite, which celebrates meat in moderation. Meat Lite was inspired by their book, Almost Meatless.

I order cassoulet a lot at restaurants, and they are usually packed with so much meat and fat, I can barely enjoy the slow-cooked white beans--my favorite part of the dish. Of course, their flavor comes from being cooked with meat. I used a ham shank, which yielded a surprising amount of tender ham morsels for the final dish. (Though this version still has much less than your typical meat-heavy restaurant version.)

If you wanted to cut back on the meat in this recipe, you could leave out any meat from the hock or shank and freeze it for a future soup or sandwich. What you can't leave out, though, is the ham bone itself, which is what gives the beans their flavor. Savory mushrooms and mellow roasted garlic round out this almost meatless cassoulet.

About the author: Joy Manning is the restaurant critic at Philadelphia Magazine. She blogs at whatiweightoday.com.

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