January 14, 2011

The Daring Cooks: Cassoulet

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Our January 2011 Challenge comes from Jenni of The Gingered Whisk and Lisa from Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. They have challenged the Daring Cooks to learn how to make a confit and use it within the traditional French dish of Cassoulet. They have chosen a traditional recipe from Anthony Bourdain and Michael Ruhlman.


I have seen cassoulet in my cookbooks and several blogs but never cooked nor tried it before. Thanks to Jenni and Lisa for choosing cassoulet and Anthony Bourdain and Michael Ruhlman's recipe for this month's Daring Cooks challenge, now I have and can say this is an amazingly delicious bean stew.

It was easy for me to decide to make this seemingly intimidating dish as I already have most of the ingredients such as duck legs confit, which I made last month following Michael Ruhlman's recipe, pork belly, pork rind, sausages (with thyme and sage), and herbs. The only ingredient I had to get from the store was the dried cannellini beans. Making the dish is a bit involved but it's all worth it. The beans absorbed all the flavors and fats from the meats and they tasted even better the next day.

5 cups dried Tarbais beans or white beans such as Great Northern or cannellini
2 pounds fresh pork belly
1 onion, cut into 4 pieces
1 pound pork rind
1 bouquet garni (tie together two sprigs each parsley and thyme and one bay leaf)
salt and pepper
¼ cup duck fat
6 pork sausages
3 onions, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
4 confit duck legs

  • Drain and rinse the beans and place in the large pot. Add the pork belly, the quartered onion, ¼ pound pork rind, and the bouquet garni. Cover with water, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and continue to simmer until the beans are tender, about 30 minutes more. Let cool for 20 minutes, then discard the onion and the bouquet garni. Remove the pork belly, cut it into 2-inch squares, and set aside. (If you plan to wait another day before finishing the dish, wait to cut the pork belly until then.)
  • Strain the beans and the rind and set aside, reserving the cooking liquid separately. In the sauté pan, heat all but 1 tablespoon of the duck fat over medium-high heat until it shimmers and becomes transparent. Carefully add the sausages and brown on all sides. Remove sausages and set aside, draining on paper towels.
  • In the same pan, over medium-high heat, brown the sliced onions, the garlic and the reserved squares of pork rind from the beans (not the unused pork rind; you'll need that later). Once browned, remove from the heat and transfer to the blender. Add 1 tablespoon of the remaining duck fat and purée until smooth. Set aside.
  • Preheat the oven to moderate 350ºF. Place the uncooked pork rind in the bottom of a deep ovenproof non-reactive dish. You're looking to line the inside, almost like a pie crust. Arrange all your ingredients in alternating layers, beginning with a layer of beans, then sausages, then more beans, then pork belly, beans, duck confit and finally more beans, adding a dab of the onion and pork rind purée between each layer.
  • Add enough of the bean cooking liquid to just cover the beans, reserving 1 cup in the refrigerator for later use.
  • Cook the cassoulet in the oven for 1 hour, then reduce the heat to very slow 250ºF and cook for another hour. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Refrigerate overnight.
  • Preheat the oven to moderate 350ºF again. Cook the cassoulet for an hour. Break the crust on the top with the spoon and add ¼ cup of the reserved cooking liquid. Reduce the heat to very slow 250ºF and continue cooking another 15 minutes, or until screamingly hot through and through.
The complete recipe including how to confit duck legs is here.


Joy said...

That looks wonderful. I have never heard of this before. Great job.

David and Stacy said...

You just happen to have Pork Rind hanging around? Nice! We had to hunt it down. But once everything rounded up, it's well worth the effort.

Well done on a great result!

Monkeyshines in the Kitchen said...

Lovely cassoulet - your crust came out perfect! Wish we could stop by for another plateful. I never get tired of this dish. great job!

Audax said...

Who has duck confit in the freezer (only a true foodie) LOL LOL. I just love your final dish wonderful result.

Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

Lisa said...

Your cassoulet is absolutely gorgeous, and I'm with Audax - you ARE a true foodie if you just so happen to have confit in your freezer! Thanks so much for taking part in our challenge, and so glad you enjoyed it!

Creating Nirvana said...

Your sausage looks great! Great job on this challenge.

Rosemary & Garlic said...

Oggie way to go, this was a little too involved for me. Yours looks delicious.

Gillian said...

This looks wonderful great easy to read directions. I agree with you well worth the effort though due to time constraints I did a slighter simpler version.

Jenni said...

Great job! I can't believe you just happened to have all the ingredients at home! What a well stocked pantry!! Your cassoulet looks lovely!

Sidney said...

OMG...that looks good !

Cookinva said...

Your cassoulet looks fantastic, the beans almost look translucent! Can't believe you pretty much had all the ingredients at home. Wow.

Oggi said...

Hi all, thanks.:)

I also couldn't believe it when I saw the recipe and realized I had all the ingredients except beans. Two weeks before I read the new challenge, I bought an 8-pound slab of skin-on pork belly which I divided into 3 pieces. A third was made into a skinless ham roulade which was for New Year's Day lunch and kept the skin in the freezer; the second third was made into a confit (skin-on), and the last third I divided into 1-pound portions. You'll never know when it will be handy for a recipe.

It's also coincidence I had duck legs confit waiting to be fried and enjoyed. I purchased 2 whole ducks for their breasts which I made into hot-smoked ham, the recipe is also from Michael Ruhlman's CHARCUTERIE, for our Christmas breakfast and lunch. I made confit with the legs, rendered all the fat, fried the skin until crackly (very yummy) chicharrones, and the bones and carcass into Chinese-style duck soup. My next duck project is sausages.

Juliana said...

What an interesting dish...never had a chance to try it....it sure looks very tasty :-)

Anonymous said...

I *heart* the crust on your cassoulet!

Oggi said...

Juliana, it's absolutely delicious!:)

Midge, I was surprised to find it did develop a crust.:)

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