Cassoulet with Duck Confit

Cassoulet is a classic French dish that isn’t difficult to make but does take a bit of planning. This version uses duck confit and dried beans. The duck confit can be made ahead of time but you can also just purchase the duck confit legs already made from an upscale grocery store if you wish.

Servings: 4-6

Ingredients

  • Duck Confit
  • 2 duck legs
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 3 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 fresh rosemary spring
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 3 cups (1/2 pound) duck fat
  • Cassoulet
  • 1 pound (2 1/4 cups) dried Tarbais, Cannelini or Great Northern beans
  • 5 Italian parsley sprigs, divided
  • 5 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf, dried
  • 2 medium yellow onions, divided
  • 1/2 pound (225 g) pork rind (pork skin), divided
  • 1 pound(455 g) pork belly
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 4 mild Italian pork sausge
  • 1/2 loaf crust country bread
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • pepper , to taste

Directions

  1. Make the duck confit by first sprinkling the duck legs with the salt and pepper on both sides. Place them in a baking dish, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  2. The next day, preheat the oven to 375°F. Place the duck legs in a clean casserole dish along with the thyme, rosemary and garlic clove. Melt the duck fat in a small sauce pan, then pour it over the duck legs. It should cover the duck legs completely. Cover with aluminum foil and roast for 90 minutes, or until the skin of duck leg pulls off of the knuckle end of the ankle bone and the meat is tender.
  3. Let cool in the dish to room temperature with the legs still in the fat. Once cool, refrigerate in the dish, cover with plastic wrap. The legs can be made ahead of time, and as long as they are completely covered in fat, will be good in the fridge for at least a month.
  4. The day before making the casserole, place the dried beans in a large bowl and cover with water until it is 2 inches above the beans. Cover and leave overnight on the counter.
  5. The next day, take a piece of cheesecloth and place 3 sprigs of parsley, 3 sprigs of thyme and the bay leaf in the center. Tie the ends of the cheesecloth together with kitchen twine to make a bouquet garni.
  6. Peel and remove the root from one onion. Cut the onion into quarters. Cut off 1/4th of the pork rind and cut into big 2-inch pieces, reserving the 3/4 of the pork rind as one piece for later. Take the beans, drain and rinse them. Place the beans, the entire pork belly, two of the onion quarters, the bouquet garni, the 2-inch pork rind pieces, salt and pepper in the Anolon Nouvelle Copper Hard Anodized Dutch Oven. Heat on high and bring to boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for an hour or until the beans are tender. Once done, remove the bouquet garni.
  7. Remove the pork belly piece and cut into 1-inch cubes. Place a colander over a large bowl and strain the beans and pork rind pieces, reserving the bean cooking liquid for later. Set aside the Dutch oven but no need to clean it.
  8. Slice the remaining onion quarter, along with the other onion thinly. Slice the garlic cloves thinly as well.
  9. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Take the duck confit out of the fridge and scoop out three tablespoons of the duck fat and put the fat in the Anolon Nouvelle Copper Hard Anodized Covered Sauté. Heat the pan on medium heat until the fat is melted, then add the sausages to it. Cook until all the sides are brown. Remove the sausage to a plate lined with paper towels.
  10. Increase the heat to medium high and place the onion slices, the garlic slices and the cooked pork rind that are in the colander with the beans and cook until the onions start to soften and almost caramelize. Scoop the onions, garlic and pork rind into a food processor or blender. Scoop out 1 more tablespoon of duck fat from the duck confit pan and add it to the bowl with the onions. Process until smooth.
  11. Assemble the cassoulet in the Anolon Nouvelle Copper Hard Anodized Dutch Oven you made the beans in. Place the uncooked reserved pork rind at the bottom of the oven (skin side down, fat side up). Layer the ingredients together in the pan, starting with a layer of cooked beans and a layer of onion puree on top of the pork rind. Add two sausages, then another layer of beans and onion puree. Add half the pork belly cubes, then another layer of beans and onion puree. Dig out the two duck legs from the duck fat (remove as much fat as you can from the legs, but don’t worry if they still have some fat clinging to them) and place them in the center of the Dutch oven. Then repeat the process again, with beans and onion puree between the remaining sausage, and pork belly cubes. You should end with the layer of beans and onion puree.
  12. Bake in the oven for 1 hour, uncovered, then reduce the heat to 300°F and bake an additional 30 minutes.
  13. While the cassoulet is baking, cube the bread into 1-inch chunks and place in a large bowl. Chop the remaining 2 sprigs of parsley and the thyme leaves and add it to the bowl with the bread. Melt the butter and then drizzle over the bread and herbs, tossing to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
  14. Once the cassoulet has baked, remove from the oven, increase the temperature to 400°F. Top the cassoulet with the buttered bread cubes and place back in the oven, baking for an additional 15 to 20 minutes or until the top of the bread starts to turn golden brown.