Cassoulet is a familiar dish with a French accent.
By Annemarie Ahearn
Photograph by Benjamin Williamson
Cassoulet is, essentially, southern France’s amped-up bean supper, a simmering pot of sausage and duck topped with crisp bread crumbs. Matched with a bottle of full-bodied red wine, it’s a surefire crowd-pleaser for dinner parties on cool evenings.
⅓ pound slab bacon, cut in ¼-inch pieces
2 medium yellow onions, peeled and diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
3 leeks, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
4 cups Great Northern beans, rinsed
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs thyme
6 cups duck or chicken stock
2 confited duck legs, including the fat
4 fresh pork sausages
1½ cups homemade bread crumbs (day-old bread pulsed in a food processor until fine)
6 sprigs parsley, roughly chopped
Over medium heat, cook bacon in a large cast-iron or earthenware pot until fat renders and bacon starts to brown. Add onions, carrots, leeks, garlic, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until onions are translucent, 10–15 minutes. Add tomato paste and stir for two minutes. Add beans, nutmeg, cloves, bay leaf, thyme, and enough stock to cover. Simmer for 1½ hours, adding more stock if beans start to dry.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large sauté pan, heat duck legs over medium heat until fat melts. Remove duck and add sausages, turning to brown all sides, about 10 minutes. Reserve 2 tablespoons melted duck fat. Nestle duck legs and sausages in beans. Add stock to almost cover. Bake uncovered for 45 minutes. Sprinkle bread crumbs, then drizzle reserved duck fat atop. Bake for about 45 more minutes, until liquid is simmering and crust is forming. Garnish with parsley and serve.