Making this for the first time, trying Cooks Illustrated version with duck confit.
-am I making a huge mistake to buy the duck confit? And where in NYC can I buy a great duck confit or do they all come from D'artegnan?
_ some recipes suggest 'breaking' the crust several times, the recipe I selected doesn't mention this at all, actually the contrary, it layers the crumbs for a thick crisp crust - opinion?
I thought about making this dish, but was put off by the long charcuterie list in the traditional recipes - four different kinds of pork, two kinds of sausages, plus the confit. Paula Wolfert (not surprisingly) goes into cassoulet in great detail in her book on the cooking of south-western France. She has this to say about breaking the crust - "And what about breaking the crust - seven times, as some cookbooks proclaim? People laughed, but some agreed the crust could be broken and re-formed twice to get some texture into the sauce." She doesn't answer the question directly, but none of the recipes in her book call for breaking the crust.
Making cassoulte is FUN. . . Congrats!
I think all the duck confit in the universe comes from D'artegnan.
Honestly if you are not too pressed for time, I would just make the confit. Its ridiculously simple plus you end up with more and its awesome shredded on a nice strong green salad.
You should be able to find a recipe. As I recall, when I do it, I get about four duck legs, sprinkle with salt/pepper, might have added something else but can't recall, cover in goose fat [or duck fat] and stuff in the very low oven for requisite hours. It is frighteningly simple and very very tasty.
I love cassoulet, and now is a great time of year to be making it. In all my times of doing it, I've never broken the crust - just didn't seem necessary. And regarding the long list of meats, I've usually found that 1 kind of sausage, 1 kind of pork and the duck confit is really all it takes for a nice, flavorful cassoulet that you'll enjoy.
And now I'm inspired to try making my own duck confit instead of buying it! Thanks, jenn!!
No Problem! when you make the confit, if you have access to duck gizzards, they make an AWESOME confit.. .. . .. marvolous in omelett or on salad. . . .Had a salad with them in Paris once and simply had to have it again so I tracked down a recipe. Many Asian markets are a good source for bulk gizzards. . . .
If you make your own confit now, you'll have to wait until March or April to make your cassoulet… :) It's not absolutely necessary to let it mature, but people seem to agree that it's better that way. If you buy it in a jar or a can, you can get properly matured stuff that's ready to use right away.
A lot of people consider breadcrumbs to be cheating; the crust should form all by itself from the other ingredients. You should break it when it's nicely browned to prevent it from burning and to mix the caramelized flavor into the dish. The more times you do this, the more flavor you get, but you have to stop before the whole thing totally dries out (or you can always add a bit more broth if you want to keep going for the whole 7 or 8 iterations). For the final crust maybe you can sprinkle on a layer of breadcrumbs, dotted with duck/goose fat. You won't win any awards for authenticity (*yawn*), but I'm sure it will be very tasty!