Classic Cassoulet
This recipe is a perfect Sunday afternoon, culinary project. Enjoy the warm, rich flavours on a cool-weather day with some red wine from France.
Servings Prep Time
4-6people 1hour
Cook Time Passive Time
4hours 8+hours(overnight)
Servings Prep Time
4-6people 1hour
Cook Time Passive Time
4hours 8+hours(overnight)
Instructions
  1. The day before serving, place dried beans in a bowl and cover with three inches of cool water.
  2. Cover the bowl and soak the beans overnight.
  3. Next day, trim the rind – couenne, en français – off the pork belly in one or two pieces. If your pork belly was already trimmed, ask the butcher for an additional rind – about 2 inches by 9 inches. **
  4. Cut trimmed pork belly into 2-inch chunks and set aside.
  5. Drain the beans and place them in a large soup pot and cover with cold water.
  6. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes, skimming the foam as it surfaces. Drain.
  7. Wipe out the soup pot, return the drained beans, and cover with chicken stock. If you don’t have enough stock to cover, use water to make up the difference.
  8. Add the bouquet garni and bring to a boil.
  9. Add the carrot, onion, and pork rind. Simmer for 1 hour.
  10. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon duck fat in a large skillet.
  11. Brown the sausages on all sides. Set aside.
  12. Using the same fat, brown the pork belly pieces. Set aside.
  13. After the beans have been simmering for an hour, season with salt and pepper.
  14. Cut the browned sausages into 3-inch lengths and add to the pot along with the browned pork belly and the confit of duck legs.
  15. Add two generous tablespoons of duck fat. Add more stock as needed to keep it from getting too dry.
  16. Cook uncovered one hour longer.
  17. Preheat oven to 275°F. Transfer the mixture to a «cassole» or a Dutch oven, sprinkle generously with breadcrumbs, and bake uncovered for 90 minutes.
  18. Serve hot at the table.
Recipe Notes

*You will need 3 1/2 ounces of pork rind; freeze any remaining for a future cassoulet.

**In the American Southwest, this is the part that is deep-fried to make chicharrones.

*** it is important to use unsalted stock when cooking the beans; salting the beans before or while they cook will make them tough. We made stock using a roast chicken carcass, onion, and carrot. You can also simply use water instead of stock.

More Notes:
– You definitely need well-made sausages. Don’t use standard store-bought ones – they contain too much gristle. Find a butcher near you who makes them and get the simplest available.
– I used pork belly, but many recipes called for pork shoulder, too. I might use a bit of both next time.
– Some recipes had no duck at all. I liked the confit – it added to the texture and flavor.
– Per Nicole’s recommendation, do not skimp on the duck fat – it sounds like it will make it heavier but it doesn’t. This is one area where I wasn’t skeptical!