The Great Cassoulet Experiment

March 7, 2010 § 6 Comments

French Cassoulet

(White bean and pork casserole with duck confit)

I purchased pre-made duck confit for this recipe thanks to Clancy’s meat (where I was fortunate enough to buy all of the meat products). The original recipe calls for you to make your own confit at the same time as the “bean stew.” I’ve just shown the recipe as I’ve used it, but feel free to make your own if you dare.

From ATK 2009

Table salt
1 pound dried cannellini beans (about 2 cups), rinsed and picked over
2 medium celery ribs
1 bay leaf
4 sprigs thyme
1 pound fresh garlic sausage*
1/4 pound salt pork , rinsed of excess salt**
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound pork shoulder , cut into 1-inch chunks
1 large onion , chopped fine (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 medium carrots , peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 1 cup)
4 medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 4 teaspoons)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 quart low-sodium chicken broth
Ground black pepper


legs duck confit, skin removed, meat pulled from bone in large pieces***

large slices high-quality white sandwich bread , torn into rough pieces****

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
*I found a great garlic sausage, but irish bangers or the easier to find brats can be used successfully

**I used a hunk of pancetta as a easy to find substitute

***As I said above I used prepared confit

****I was surprised using fresh (not dried) slices of bread worked. I used the ATK recommended Pep Farms hearty white.


  1. Dissolve 2 tablespoons salt in 3 quarts cold water in large bowl or container. Add beans and soak at room temperature, 8 to 24 hours. Drain and rinse well.*****
  2. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees.
  3. Using kitchen twine, tie together celery, bay leaf, and thyme, and set aside. Place sausage and salt pork in medium saucepan and add cold water to cover by 1 inch; bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to simmer and cook 5 minutes. Transfer sausages to cutting board, allow to cool slightly, then cut into 1-inch pieces. Remove salt pork from water; set aside.
  4. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in 8-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat until beginning to smoke. Add sausage pieces and brown on all sides, 8 to 12 minutes total. Transfer to medium bowl.
  5. Add pork shoulder and brown on all sides, 8 to 12 minutes. Add onion and carrots; cook, stirring constantly, until onion is translucent, about 2 minutes.
  6. Add garlic and tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 30 seconds.
  7. Return sausage to Dutch oven; add white wine, using wooden spoon to scrape browned bits from bottom of pan. Cook until slightly reduced, about 30 seconds.
  8. Stir in diced tomatoes, celery bundle, and reserved salt pork.
  9. Stir in broth and beans, pressing beans into even layer. If any beans are completely exposed, add up to 1 cup water to submerge (beans may still break surface of liquid). Increase heat to high and bring to simmer. Cover pot, transfer to oven, and cook until beans are tender, about 1½ hours.
  10. Remove stew from oven and increase temperature to 350 degrees.
  11. Remove celery bundle and salt pork from bean stew and discard (or dice salt pork and return to stew as I did). Using large spoon or ladle, skim fat from surface of stew and discard. Adjust seasoning of stew with salt and pepper. Add duck meat and stir gently to combine. Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
  12. Meanwhile, pulse bread and remaining 2 tablespoons oil in food processor until crumbs are no larger than 1/8 inch, eight to ten 1-second pulses. Transfer to medium bowl, add parsley, and toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  13. Sprinkle 1/2 cup bread-crumb mixture evenly over casserole; bake, covered, 15 minutes. Remove lid and bake 15 minutes longer.
  14. Sprinkle remaining bread-crumb mixture over top of casserole and bake until topping is golden brown and beans are bubbling around edges of pot, about 30 minutes. Let rest 15 minutes before serving.

*****It was totally worth it to brine the beans overnight, and it worked really well. I highly recommend it. Alternatively a “quick brine” can be done by placing the salt, water and beans in a dutch oven and getting the water to a rolling boil over high heat.  Remove from heat, cover and let sit for an hour. Then drain and rinse as directed in the recipe. Honestly, this sounds like more work, but do as you will. I think canned beans may turn to complete mush in the recipe, so although super easy I think it’s a bad idea.

Then serve and eat it up!

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