Southern France was the location of our previous Jewish vacation cruises, a place rich in heritage and cuisine. One such dish to be found in this region is Cassoulet. Cassoulet, from Languedoc in South West France, was once the simple fare of farm workers. Now it has been elevated into a rich and complex dish, although it still retains its rustic charm and identity. This is certainly not an easy recipe to prepare, but it is certainly worth the time spent on making it.
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Canola oil
- 2 1/2 cups finely chopped onion (about 2 medium)
- 1 cup thinly sliced carrot (about 1/2 pound)
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 (14-ounce) can chopped tomatoes or passata
- 2 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs
- 1 celery stalk
- 1 thyme sprig
- 1 bay leaf
- 8 cups chicken broth
- 2 cups red wine (or water)
- 5 duck confit legs (about 2 1/2 pounds) # see below)
- Cooking spray
- ¾ pound sausage
- 1 (1 ounce) sliced white bread
- 2lb of haricot or butter beans
Step 1: Sort and wash beans; place in a large bowl. Cover with water to 2 inches above beans; cover and let it stand 8 hours. Drain beans.
Step 2: Sauté onion and carrot; cook for 8 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and tomatoes; cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Tie twine around parsley, celery, thyme, and bay leaf to secure. Add beans, 4 cups broth, 2 cups water, and herb bundles to the pan. Bring to a simmer; cook it while covered for 2 hours or until beans are tender. Stir in remaining salt and black pepper. Cool bean mixture to room temperature; cover and chill overnight.
Step 3: Preheat the oven to 400°.
Step 4: Arrange duck confit legs in a 13 x 9–inch baking dish. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Remove skin and meat from bones; shred meat into large pieces. Discard skin and bones.
Step 5: Reduce oven temperature to 325°.
Step 6: Bring bean mixture to a simmer over medium-low heat; stir in duck. Bring remaining 4 cups of broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan; pour evenly over bean mixture. Bake at 325° for 2 hours. Reduce oven to temperature to 275°.
Step 7: Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add sausage to pan; cook for 6 minutes or until browned, turning occasionally. Cool slightly; cut sausage into 1-inch pieces. Stir bean mixture; add sausage pieces. Place bread in a food processor; pulse 10 times or until coarse crumbs measure ½ cup. Sprinkle bread crumbs evenly over cassoulet. Bake at 275° for 1 ½ hours. Let stand 20 minutes before serving.
INGREDIENTS FOR DUCK CONFIT
- 3 tablespoons salt
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 shallot, peeled and sliced
- 6 sprigs thyme
- Coarsely ground black pepper
- 5 duck legs with thighs
- About 4 cups duck fat
1. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of salt in the bottom of a dish or plastic container large enough to hold the duck pieces in a single layer. Evenly scatter half the garlic, shallots, and thyme in the container. Arrange the duck, skin-side up, over the salt mixture, then sprinkle with the remaining salt, garlic, shallots, and thyme and a little pepper. Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 days.
2. Preheat the oven to 225°F. Melt the duck fat in a small saucepan. Brush the salt and seasonings off the duck. Arrange the duck pieces in a single snug layer in a high-sided baking dish or ovenproof saucepan. Pour the melted fat over the duck (the duck pieces should be covered by fat) and place the confit in the oven. Cook the confit slowly at a very slow simmer — just an occasional bubble — until the duck is tender and can be easily pulled from the bone, 2-3 hours. Remove the confit from the oven. Cool and store the duck in the fat. (The confit will stay in the refrigerator for several weeks.)