In the spirit of rugged American individualism, this flavorful recipe messes with a classic (near perfect) French dish. Relying less on pork parts not easily procured in U.S. supermarkets, store bought confit duck legs, and time saving short cuts, this plate delivers the best combination of traditional French cooking and American free spirited kitchen ingenuity (AKA efficiency). Duck confit can take hours to prepare. Why not leave the slow cooking in tons of duck fat to the experts? D'Artagnan prepares fall-off-the-bone-tender duck legs cooked slowly in their own juices with traditional French aromatics with overnight delivery across the United States, cutting prep time down by at least four hours. Much debate goes into whether the bread crumbs should or should not be added to a cassoulet before it goes into the oven to add another layer of crispy crust to the stew. They have been left to pass here because there is always enough for leftovers and the crumbs maintain their textural bite and freshness for days when stored in an airtight container. Making cassoulet is satisfying. Not only is it a hearty, one-pot meal that lasts for days, home chefs can tinker endlessly with its flavors. Scraps of charcuterie can be tossed in, pork belly substituted for the pancetta, rosemary for the thyme, and lamb sausage for the pork. Served with a glass of red wine from Langedoc, this is a heart-warming, belly-filling wholesome meal for family and friends.
Ingredients1 pound Tarbais beans, soaked overnight 4 prepared duck leg confit 2 French garlic sausages, casings removed 4 ounce packages diced uncured pancetta (2) 1 long leek, cut into 1/2" slices (all but the last 2 to 3" of dark green stalk) 1 large thick carrot, peeled 1 stalk celery, diced 2 laurel bay leaves 8 black peppercorns 6 sprigs fresh thyme 1 large yellow union, peeled 8 whole cloves 1 quart chicken stock 2 quarts water 4 ounces of pork belly, chopped Panko bread crumbs 1 organic orange, zest only 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, leaves only 1/2 cup chopped parsley Parmesan cheese, peeled with a vegetable peeler into ribbons Extra virgin olive oil Rustic bread loaf, sliced
- Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
- Heat a 5 quart dutch oven over medium heat. Add 1/2 of the pancetta, the crumbled sausage, and the leek and cook until the meat is browned and the leeks are soft and velvety. Using a slotted spoon, remove the meat and leeks from the pot and reserve.
- Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pot and empty the entire contents of the prepared confit into the pot skin side down. Turn the heat to medium high. Cook until the skin is crispy. Remove the duck from the pot & reserve.
- Add the beans and their soaking liquid to the pot. Add the carrot, celery, bay leaves, peppercorns, and thyme to the pot. Add 2 quarts of water to the beans.
- Poke the whole cloves into the onion and add it to the pot.
- Add the chicken stock to the pot and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to simmer and cook until the beans are tender.
- Remove the carrot, chop, and throw it back in the pot.
- Remove the duck from the bone and add it and the sausage, pancetta, and leek mixture to the bean pot. Stir until the meat and leeks are distributed throughout.
- Drop the chopped pork belly onto the top of the cassoulet.
- Place the pot in the preheated oven for at least 1 hour and keep in the oven for 2 to 3 hours.
- Meanwhile, toast the breadcrumbs in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, add the zest and the thyme and cook until golden and fragrant.
- Take the cassoulet out of the oven. Use a set of tongs to locate and remove the bay leaves, black peppercorns, and any stiff thyme stalks.
- Places slices of bread on a half sheet baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and put in the oven to toast for 3 to 5 minutes.
- Place the pot on the table, sprinkle with fresh parsley and pass the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil.
- Serve with the toasted bread slices.