All that duck confit I made in November and December is one of the most wonderful things you can do with a duck. You can do any number of things with it. Perhaps best of all, it leads the way to this cassoulet, which I made twice in the depths of winter. It’s not the kind of thing you’ll likely make often, but there isn’t much that’s more satisfying when there’s a couple feet of snow on the ground.
Cassoulet from Saveur Issue #117:
1 lb. dried great northern beans
10 tbsp. duck fat or olive oil
16 cloves garlic, smashed
2 onions, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 large ham hocks
1 lb. pork shoulder, cut into 1″cubes
1⁄2 lb. pancetta, cubed
4 sprigs oregano
4 sprigs thyme
3 bay leaves
1 cup whole peeled canned tomatoes
1 cup white wine
2 cups chicken broth
4 confit duck legs (optional)
1 lb. pork sausages
2 cups bread crumbs
1. Soak beans in a 4-qt. bowl in 7 1⁄2 cups water overnight. Heat 2 tbsp. duck fat in a 6-qt. pot over medium-high heat. Add half the garlic, onions, and carrots and cook until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add ham hocks along with beans and their water and boil. Reduce heat and simmer beans until tender, about 1 1⁄2 hours.
2. Transfer ham hocks to a plate; let cool. Pull off meat; discard skin, bone, and gristle. Chop meat; add to beans. Set aside.
3. Heat 2 tbsp. duck fat in a 5-qt. dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add pork and brown for 8 minutes. Add pancetta; cook for 5 minutes. Add remaining garlic, onions, and carrots; cook until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Tie together oregano, thyme, and bay leaves with twine; add to pan with tomatoes; cook until liquid thickens, 8–10 minutes. Add wine; reduce by half. Add broth; boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, uncovered, until liquid has thickened, about 1 hour. Discard herbs; set dutch oven aside.
4. Meanwhile, sear duck legs in 2 tbsp. duck fat in a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat for 8 minutes; transfer to a plate. Brown sausages in the fat, about 8 minutes. Cut sausages into 1⁄2″ slices. Pull duck meat off bones. Discard fat and bones. Stir duck and sausages into pork stew.
5. Heat oven to 300˚. Mix beans and pork stew in a 4-qt. earthenware casserole. Cover with bread crumbs; drizzle with remaining duck fat. Bake, uncovered, for 3 hours. Raise oven temperature to 500˚; cook cassoulet until crust is golden, about 5 minutes.
SERVES 6 – 8