Duck-leg Cassoulet

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I have made a couple of times Chicken Leg Cassoulet, adapting the traditional cassoulet to American life, in which chicken and olive oil are readily available, and duck legs and duck fat are not.  I recently bought and cut up two ducks, and turned the legs into Sous-Vide Duck Leg Confit, and I also now have a good supply of duck fat for cooking.  So I redid cassoulet substituting duck for chicken, and it is even better that way.  A nice thing about using confit as an ingredient is that it is tender whereas sometimes the meat in duck dishes can be a bit tough.  That is not a problem in this recipe.

Warning – This does take a long time to cook (about 6:15 hours on the cooking day plus soaking the beans the night before), but most of that time is unattended. So start early and enjoy.

1 lb. dried white or yellow beans (I used mayacoba beans)

Kosher salt

1 qt. low sodium chicken broth

3 packets (3/4 oz.) unflavored gelatin

8 oz. country ham, cut into small pieces

Duck fat (if needed)

4 duck legs from Sous-Vide Duck Leg Confit

1 lb. fresh garlic sausage

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 large carrot, unpeeled in 3-inch sections

2 stalks of celery, in 3 inch sections

1 whole head of garlic, peeled

4 sprigs parsley

2 bay leaves

6 cloves

Black pepper

The night before, put the beans in a pot with 3 quarts of water and 3 Tbs. kosher salt to soak. The next day drain and rinse the beans.

Put the stock in a bowl and sprinkle over it the gelatin powder.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

In a Dutch oven, brown the country ham pieces, adding some duck fat if the ham is not fatty enough to fry on its own. When browned remove the ham to a large bowl. Fry the garlic sausages, and when browned place them in the bowl. By this time, there should be a nice frond on the bottom of the Dutch oven. Remove any excess oil so that only about 2 Tbs. remain. Saute the onion in the remaining oil until translucent. Add the drained beans, carrot, celery, garlic, parsley, bay leaves, cloves, and stock/gelatin mixture. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook covered for about 45 minutes, until the beans are al dente.

Turn off the burner. Using tongs and a slotted spoon, remove the carrot, celery, parsley, bay leaves, cloves, all of which have given their all to flavor the broth. Add the meats to the beans in the pot in the following order: ham, garlic sausage, and confit.   Add a little water if necessary so that the beans are barely submerged.

Put the Dutch oven in the oven without a lid and cook undisturbed for 2 hours during which time a thin crust will form.

Check periodically to see if the pot needs more water to keep the beans covered. If so, add from the side so that the crust is not disturbed. After two hours, break the crust with a spoon and a shake to the pan. Return the pot to the oven, and for the next two hours continue to break the crust every 30 minutes, adding water if necessary. Finally return the pot to the oven and let it cook undisturbed for another hour or so until a deep brown and thick crust is formed.

Serve with a salad and a good red wine.


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