French Cassoulet

Recommended Pairing: Cast Wines 2016 Estate Petite Sirah

 

THE RECIPE:

FRENCH CASSOULET


INGREDIENTS

duck confit – 6 legs (if you plan to make your own, see previous recipe for duck confit, “cassoulet: part one”)

For the beans:

1.5 lbs dried cassoulet beans, such as Tarbais or cannellini – Locals: Rancho Gordo Heirloom Tarbais Cassoulet Beans were excellent!

1/2 lb slab pancetta (ask your local Italian deli!)

2 slices thick cut bacon

4 cups chicken stock

2 cups water

1 cup crushed tomatoes, canned=OK

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 onion, halved

4 whole cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

6 sprigs fresh flat leaf parsley

4 sprigs thyme

1 head garlic, halved

2 bay leaves

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the Pork Ragout:

1.5 lbs boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1“ cubes

3 tablespoons rendered duck fat or olive oil

4 cups chicken stock

2 cups water

1 cup crushed tomatoes

2 carrots, peeled and cut into 2” chunks

1 onion, quartered

4 cloves garlic, crushed

1 bay leaf


ASSEMBLY

1.5 lbs Toulouse sausage (garlic, white wine, pepper, nutmeg, allspice) – Locals: Avi de Seghesio from Journeyman was the perfect sausage here!

1 lb cooked garlic sausage (we used Evergood)

1 clove garlic, cut in half

2.5 cups breadcrumbs

1/4 cup rendered duck fat or butter

reserved ragout and bean cooking liquid

duck skins, removed from confit right after cooking


PROCEDURE

Two days ahead:

1. Cure duck, if making your own duck confit (see Duck Confit recipe in previous post)

2. Soak beans overnight

3. Rinse beans in colander, careful to remove any pebbles or debris (unlikely, but possible). Place in a large bowl and cover with water by 2”. Refrigerate overnight.


The Day before:

Beans + Duck

1. If making your own duck confit, begin the cooking process (see recipe here).

2. Drain soaked beans and transfer to a large pot. Cover with water by 2” and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes, drain and rinse beans. (This process helps to eliminate foamy scum that can be a byproduct of the cooking process).

3. Return beans to pot and add chicken stock, water, tomato, vinegar, garlic, onion, cloves (pierced into onion), salt, pepper, nutmeg, and bouquet garni (parsley, thyme + bay leaves tied into a bundle). Stir and cook over medium heat for 1.5 hours, periodically scraping any gray scum off of the top.

4. Remove beans from heat and let cool completely, 2 hours. Discard bouquet garni, onion and garlic. Remove any obvious chunks of pancetta and bacon fat, leaving the meaty bits in with the beans.

5. Meanwhile, heat another large, heavy-bottomed pot with 3 tablespoons of duck fat or olive oil. Season cubed pork shoulder with salt and pepper and brown in batches until golden. Add onion, garlic cloves and carrots to pot and sear in fat with pork, 2 minutes. Add chicken stock, water, tomato and bay leaf. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 3 hours, until pork is tender and liquid is reduced.

6. Meanwhile, if making your own duck confit, carefully remove skin from duck legs and lay on a plate in a single layer. Refrigerate overnight. Pick duck meat off of the bones leaving nice, bite-sized pieces.

7. Remove cubed pork shoulder from cooking liquid. Place duck and pork on top of beans, cover and refrigerate overnight.

8. Strain pork cooking liquid and save in refrigerator for baking cassoulet the following day.


The big day:

1. Remove pot of beans and meat from refrigerator and let come to room temperature, 1-2 hours.

2. Heat oven to 375F.

3. Meanwhile, lay reserved chilled duck skin into a cold 9” cast iron or non-stick skillet, and slowly warm over low-medium heat to gently render fat. Gently cook skin, flipping occasionally until completely crisp, about 12-15 minutes. Remove skin to drain on a paper towel. Set aside.

4. In the same pan, add your Toulouse-style sausage (prick the skin prior to cooking to keep them from bursting). Cook over medium-low heat until golden, about 12 minutes. Remove to cutting board to cool.

5. Meanwhile, add the final 1/4 cup of duck fat or butter to same pan used for sausage and duck fat. Add breadcrumbs and cook over low heat, stirring frequently until toasted and golden, 6-8 minutes. Remove breadcrumbs and set aside.

6. Gather your cooking vessel (I used a large, heavy bottomed soup pot). Rub the entire interior surface of cooking vessel with a halved clove of garlic.

7. Slice pre-cooked garlic sausages into 1/4” coins and layer on the bottom of the cooking vessel. Slice Toulouse-style sausages into 1” chunks and add to pot atop garlic sausage. Using your hands, gather the meat from the top of the bean pot and evenly scatter duck and pork shoulder over sausages. Scoop beans on top of meat in an even layer. Moisten with reserved ragout broth until liquid reaches the top of the beans.

8. Place 1/2 cup of toasted breadcrumbs into small food processor. Add crispy duck skin, broken into smaller pieces. Pulse until a uniform, sand-like mixture is achieved, about 6 pulses. Cover beans with a smooth, even layer of plain toasted breadcrumbs and finish with the final layer of duck fat breadcrumbs.

**Processing duck skin is optional. You can also crumble duck fat on top of cassoulet when you are finished cooking it.

9. Cook cassoulet, uncovered for 30 minutes until a golden crust forms. Remove pot and gently scrape breadcrumbs up with a spoon. Press them back down into a smooth layer, allowing them to absorb a little liquid. Bake until another crust forms, 25-30 minutes and repeat the process. Repeat 2 more times, for a total of 4 crust scrapings. **If at any point the cassoulet seems dry, add more liquid, even if you have to use plain chicken stock.

10. Remove from oven, let stand 20 minutes. Serve + Enjoy!


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