La Belle Chaurienne – Cassoulet And Duck Confit From Castelnaudary
La Belle Chaurienne was the first French food range we selected when we founded The Good Food Network back in 1996 together with the Perard fish soup range from Le Touquet.
We chose La Belle Chaurienne because they prepared a wide range of the traditional French foods (mainly duck confit, cassoulet, foie gras and pates) we were looking to stock; we found the quality of their range good when we tasted them, and their pricing was competitive! We’ve never really looked back and 27 years on, La Belle Chaurienne is one of our best -selling French food ranges, with 1000s of re-orders over the years, especially for their excellent duck confit and cassoulet.
La Belle Chaurienne is based in Castelnaudary (situated in the Aude region of South West France between Toulouse and Carcassonne), a town widely reputed as the home of cassoulet. Although the nearby towns of Toulouse and Carcassonne dispute this claim and each have their own version of cassoulet!
The company was founded in 1964 under the trading name “Conserverie Du Languedoc” when the Castelnaudary town council backed the business of Michel Cauquil (a butcher who specialised in preparing meat based preserves such as duck confit and cassoulet) in order to help promote the towns culinary heritage, namely cassoulet.
“La Belle Chaurienne” was the brand name chosen. Why? Inhabitants of Castelnaudary are called “Chaureans” (for the men) and “Chauriennes” (for the women) hence the brand name, which implies strong links to the town itself and also encapsulates the French notion of “terroir”. Hard to translate into English (a rough English translation would be “regional culinary traditions”) but a term widely used in rural France, “le terroir” refers to traditions, know-how and values of a region handed down over generations, usually linked to food and wine production.
From 1964 to 1974, La Belle Chaurienne was located in Castelnaudary town centre and started producing high quality duck cassoulet and confit. Sales grew rapidly during this decade, especially when the company started working with the fledging supermarkets starting to appear throughout France in the 1960s. As a result the company had to move to larger premises outside the town centre. Following much the same rapid growth pattern, La Belle Chaurienne again moved to an even larger and more modern factory in 1985, using industrial production techniques to bring down costs.
Fast forwarding a little from the mid 80s until today, Conserverie Du Languedoc has been bought and sold by a variety of large French food companies over the decades, as each sought to benefit from it’s leading position in the premium cassoulet sector. Along the way, La Belle Chaurienne has been awarded a host of production quality standards, won tasting competitions, and today is a household name in France for good quality cassoulet and duck confit.
The current parent company to own La Belle Chaurienne brand is Arteris – a French co-operative food group whose portfolio includes other similar businesses to La Belle Chaurienne who produce foie gras, cassoulet, confit and pates – hence benefiting from economies of scale (cost savings linked to size) in raw material sourcing, production and commercialisation.
Despite all these changes, La belle Chaurienne (with it’s 120 employees) continues to be run run very much independently and after almost three decades of working together, many of our first contacts remain the same today with links almost of friendship having formed over the years! And this value of continuity permeates the La Belle Chaurienne itself, which prioritises it’s founding values of promoting regional gastronomy, quality and authenticity.
La Belle Chaurienne has managed to combine this commitment to tradition with modern trends and has of late actively developed new recipes, trying where possible to remain gluten free, reducing salt content, and developing a range of one portion (microwave) ready meals to fit in with more modern lifestyles and more people living alone and spending less time cooking!
La Belle Chaurienne Confit De Canard
Duck confit is a classic French treat dish prepared by cooking duck in it’s own duck fat, with a little seasoning (salt, pepper, and sometimes a few herbs) at a very low heat for a very long time, so that the meat becomes very tender. And as it is cooked and covered in duck fat, it can be stored in a jar (or tin) for long periods, which was useful before modern refrigeration!
La Belle Chaurienne Confit De Canard (duck confit) is one of their flagship products (along with their cassoulet) and has been a best – seller since we added it to our French food range in the early 2000s. We had missed out La Belle Chaurienne duck confit on our original selection, and it is thanks to a UK delicatessen customer who we used to supply that we discovered their confit. The owner asked if we could get hold of La Belle Chaurienne confit for him, which we duly did and ever since then these duck confit tins have sold wonderfully!
Our comments on La Belle Chaurienne confit de canard is that it is one of the better quality ones you will find. We sell thousands each year, mainly via re-orders. And in terms of quality – price – ratio, they are unbeatable. We sell some even better quality duck confit (Castaing brand), which are free range, but then the price differential is large, and you will never be disappointed with La Belle Chaurienne!
With regards health, duck confit is calorific (yes!), but 100% natural (only 3 ingredients: duck legs, duck fat, salt), gluten free, and very low in saturated fats.
Duck confit is great to serve when entertaining and always goes down a treat! It’s very easy to prepare, time saving and the quality is very constant.
Duck Confit Cooking Preparation Tips
It’s worth placing your tin of duck confit at room temperature a couple of hours before use to loosen the duck fat so it’s easier to remove the duck legs from the tin.
Once done remove the duck confit from tin brushing off any excess fat and place in an oven dish.
Pre-heat oven to 180c and place confit de canard in oven for circa 25 minutes until crisp and golden brown.
Duck confit goes well with roast potatoes, a side salad, lentils, cassoulet beans, braised red cabbage …
La Belle Chaurienne Cassoulet
Together with the duck confit, La Belle Chaurienne cassoulet is another of the pillars in terms of The Good Food Network sales. And with reason! It combines quality, taste and a very affordable price point.
What is cassoulet? Cassoulet is a sort of white bean stew made with white lingot beans, which are cooked gently together with some other vegetables, but above all pieces of meat (traditionally duck confit, but it can also be goose confit or pork), Toulouse sausages, and charcuterie (pork shoulder is a classic), and the result is a very enjoyable and comforting dish, which is a complete meal in itself and requires no sides.
La Belle Chaurienne duck cassoulet is one of the better cassoulet you will find in France or the UK, and at a very competitive price. Again, like for the duck confit, we have some even better cassoulet in our range (Maison Godard and Castaing Foie Gras brands) but at much higher prices. So for every day enjoyment, La Belle Chaurienne offer the best value.
Although we focus on taste rather than dietary requirements, it’s worth mentioning as an aside that la Belle Chaurienne duck cassoulet is gluten free, low in saturated fats, and nutritious but low in calories because beans form the bulk of the dish.
And just to wrap up on cassoulet, we invite you to read our blog post on how to serve and enjoy cassoulet!
La Belle Chaurienne French Ready Meals From South West France
Over the last decade, la Belle Chaurienne have diversified into preparing a wider range of French ready meals, which cover a number of specialities from their region such as coq au vin, poulet Basquaise, boeuf en Daube, blanquette de Veau, Toulouse sausages with lentils, Petit Sale aux lentilles, just to name a few!
These meals are available in one portion and two portion presentations and are ambient (meaning they do not require refrigeration), and simply require pouring into a saucepan and warming up gently, making them very practical if you are short of time but still want a good meal!
NEW La Belle Chaurienne Range Of Microwave French Ready Meals
More recently and in the same spirit, La Belle Chaurienne have developed a range of quality French microwave meals for one person. Although we are traditional as a company, and probably prefer their meals in tins and jars, these microwave presentations are very practical, time saving and as microwave meals go, some of the best available. From the moment we introduced them to our range, they have sold well, and continue to do so – as ever mainly via re-order, which is always a good sign!
And that ends our article on la Belle Chaurienne! If you have a question, suggestion, or would like to know more, please email us!