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The pheasant cassoulet is an excellent winter warmer at Old Major.EXPAND
The pheasant cassoulet is an excellent winter warmer at Old Major.
Mark Antonation

Weekly Winter Warmer: Old Major's Take on a French Classic

Chefs roll out their heartiest, most comforting creations for fall and winter menus, promising warming soups, stews and plates loaded with root vegetables, slow-cooked meats and other cold-weather fare. We're keeping track of rotating menus and specials to help you find the best this winter has to offer.

Sarah Khosravani took over as executive chef of Old Major in August, so she's had a few months (plus three previous years working her way up the ladder in chef/owner Justin Brunson's kitchen) to integrate her style with the restaurant's. The results on her fall menu incorporate chiles, pumpkin, beans and other late-harvest produce with Old Major's meat-forward philosophy and a hint of Persian influences from Khosravani's heritage. So you'll find a chickory salad with date purée, and Georges Bank scallops on saffron rice with golden raisins, walnuts and pomegranate, both of which highlight ingredients the chef grew up eating.

But for a feast of fall flavors, be sure and bring friends, because the pheasant cassoulet on the large-format Butcher's menu is big enough to satisfy a hungry crew coming in from the cold. Khosravani explains that her version of cassoulet, the rustic bean dish from southern France, is a loose interpretation of the traditional preparation, but all the key ingredients are there: creamy white beans, confit pheasant (which takes the place of the more standard duck) and a prodigious helping of andouille sausage.

The plentiful beans are almost entirely hidden by half a pheasant; the breast has been brined and seared to crisp the skin, while the leg, thigh and wing have been cured and slow-cooked in fat until the meat pulls apart almost like Carolina pork. The andouille sausage, made by Brunson's River Bear American Meats, is zippier than you might expect in cassoulet, but the flavors work well in combination with a mound of red onion marmalade and a topping of dressed fennel and celery leaves. The richness of the meats and beans are offset by a hint of brightness and acidity, keeping the dish from becoming too heavy.

At $55, this isn't intended to be one dish among many; Old Major recommends sharing with two or three people, but it could easily serve four, especially if you plan to explore the rest of the menu. The cassoulet will be on the menu through the end of November in limited quantities each night.

Old Major is located at 3316 Tejon Street and is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, and 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. Call 720-420-0622 or visit the restaurant's website for details and reservations.

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