Remember I mentioned that the Missus requested a restock of the duck confit and a cassoulet for New Year? So, well that actually happened.
The request kind of threw me at first.....after all duck confit is a two day process for me. But as usual, in the end the Missus got what She wanted. Not a traditional "cassoulet" by any means as I portioned things out and heated them in the a gratin pan.....but that just meant more crunchy toppings. And on the second day, I added some collard greens to the whole thing (photo above), I also posted a photo to Flickr. Which leads to this post. I'd kinda gotten distracted making this dish and hadn't taken a whole lot of photos, so was just going to wait until I did this again. But "Hao" who comments every once in a while saw a photo of this on my Flickr page and asked if I'd do a post. So here you go....not quite, but kind of cassoulet.
A couple of items to note, I had just completed making a batch of my duck confit, so I had duck fat at hand as well as confit duck legs. Second, I've seen recipes that call for clove, but since I cure my duck legs with Chinese 5 spice, I figured that there's be that light hint of clove-cinnamon flavor in the background. On New Year's eve, I went out looking for beans. I'd seen Flageolet beans at Whole Foods, but when I got there it was no Bueno. So I ended up with organic Navy Beans, which worked out well. New Year's day saw me running around looking for the rest of the ingredients and I just improvised when needed. Everything was done in between getting called into work.....
So while this might just set you over the edge....remember, it's "kind of cassoulet". After all, I tend to think of cassoulet as being a rustic, peasant dish, something that uses preserved meats and beans. And no, I didn't use a Cassole either.
You might look at the steps and think this is difficult, but it's not....in spite of all the steps, which are just simple strategies and techniques to get the most of what I had, this wasn't too hard. There's a good amount of idle time as well.
Kind of Cassoulet
1 - 1 1/4 pounds Flageolet or Navy Beans
1/2 pound pork belly
1/4 pound pancetta
4 confit duck legs
1 pound pork sausage - preferably Garlic sausage, but what the heck, I used mild Italian Sausage. If you've got an inside line on Toulouse style garlic sausage in San Diego - let me know!
2 medium onions
1 whole bulb of garlic
4 cloves of garlic
6 sprigs fresh thyme
6 bay leaves
1 Tb whole peppercorn
4-5 Tb duck fat
1 quart stock (the good stuff, preferable made at home - veal or chicken)
2 cups white wine - I like something with a nice acidity
2-3 Tb Concentrated Tomato Paste
Salt and Pepper to taste
Part 1 The beans
- Soak the bean overnight in enough water to cover by at least 3-4 inches
- Drain the beans
- While the beans are draining chop the pork belly into cubes
- Brown the pork belly over medium-low heat to render fat. Browning will help the pork belly keep it's shape during cooking. After all, we all love biting into a nice piece of pork belly, right?
- Drain half the rendered fat from the pork belly, then add 2 Tb duck fat
- Add well drained beans and cover with water and combine.
- Create a bouquet garni (so fancy shmancy) of 3 sprigs of thyme, 3 bays leaves, and peppercorns. Add to the pot with 4 garlic cloves
- Simmer for about an hour or so until tender, but still slightly firm - remember, you're going to be cooking this again.
Part 2 Meanwhile, while the beans are simmering, the meat
- Set oven at 325.
- Dice the pancetta
- Prick the pork sausage, this will allow the fat to render.
- Chop the onions and the peeled cloves of the entire bulb of garlic.
- In a large Dutch Oven, brown the whole sausage, then remove.
- Add the remainder of the duck fat to the pot
- Add the pancetta and brown.
- Add tomato paste, onions, and garlic. Stir and let soften.
- Meanwhile, slice browned sausage into slices
- Once the onions and garlic are fragrant, add the sliced sausage back into the pot.
- Add the two cups of white wine and bring to a simmer
- Add the stock and bring to a simmer
- Create another bouquet garni of 3 sprigs of thyme and 3 bays leaves and add to the pot
- Give the whole mess a good stir, then add the duck confit. If you want the legs to stay whole....be gentle
- Place in the oven and let braise for an hour or so, checking once or twice and giving a gentle stir
Part 3 Putting it together
- Once beans are ready drain into a colander, reserving the bean liquid. Remove the bouquet garni.
- Remove the braising meat pot from the oven and turn the temp up to 350
- Add beans and pork belly to the braised meats.
- If more liquid is needed, top off with bean juice.
- Give a gentle stir and return to oven for another 30 minutes. Remove the Dutch Oven, taste and adjust flavor with salt and pepper.
- Return to oven until the beans reach the desired texture.
Part 4 So here's where I do something a bit different
-Add duck fat and bacon to a cold pan.
- Over medium heat brown and render the fat from the bacon
- When the bacon is almost browned, add garlic, then parsley
- Add panko and stir letting the panko absorb all the oil
-Heat oven to 350
- Add the desired amount of cassoulet to a gratin pan
- Place in the oven until the cassoulet is heated through and starting to bubble
- Remove the pan from the oven and turn the temp up to 450
- Top the cassoulet with flavored panko and return to oven
- Remove when the panko reaches a light brown color
The first day it was pretty much straight up. The second time I put it together and added come collards which the Missus enjoyed, so you might want to try that.