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Cassoulet?

Does anyone have experience making cassoulet?
I have a fresh duck and want to 'change things up a bit for my contribution to Christmas diner.
Never made it before. Any tips are gratefully appreciated. Yes I can 'Google' all kinds of info but someone actually sharing their experience where I can ask questions is what makes CH such a great site.

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  1. Cassoulet is at least a three day preparation dish, so you had best get to work now!

    For a traditional cassoulet, I highly recommend Master the Art, book 1. You will start by confuting the duck legs, and making toulouse sausage. The next step is creating the lamb stew. Meanwhile your beans should be soaking. At long last you combine, and then cook for a very long time, stirring every once in a while to get that characteristic crust.

    Good luck! And happy, happy eating. This is one of my favorite "over-the-top" meals.

    3 Replies
    1. re: smtucker

      I, too, have a fondness for the recipe in Mastering the Art, probably because it was the first cassoulet I ever tried to make. But you'll need to go elsewhere to find a recipe to make the confit and one duck is unlikely to yield enough fat to do it the traditional way. Michael Ruhlman has a recipe for poaching the duck legs in olive oil ( http://ruhlman.com/2009/03/duck-confi... ), Sally Schneider has one for poaching them in foil in their own fat ( A Quick(Ish) Duck Confit ), and Melissa Clark has one that doesn’t require quarts of duck fat, either ( http://food52.com/blog/2893-melissa-c... ).

      Any of these three recipes will allow you make the confit in far less time with far less fat than the traditional recipes.

      1. re: JoanN

        I make a very large batch every Fall, after Thanksgiving. I claim all of the remaining dark meat from the Thanksgiving turkey. I combine it with Italian sausage and Linguica, two kinds of beans, etc, etc. The dark turkey does what low fat duck would do, if it existed.

        1. re: trail 6

          the actual duck meat is very lean -- and what fat it does have is very high in oleic acid, making it one of the healthier animal fats available.

    2. I've made Cassoulet, and am making it for Christmas Dinner. The only parts of the duck that traditionally goes into Cassoulet are the confit legs. In order to confit your legs, you would have had to start last week.

      Other ducky items in the dish are a couple of different sausages. The tarbais beans need to be soaked overnight and then cooked with ventreche/bacon before assembling the dish. I chose it because I can do most of it ahead, and then put it in the oven for the long baking period on Wednesday morning. Besides, it feeds an army. If you are still interested and have questions, I think my email addy is on my info page here.

      Imho, the definitive recipe is in Paula Wolfert's book, "The Cooking of Southwest France." She learned to make it from the master, Andre Daguin.

      1. I made a cassoulet about a week ago, but I made it in one day.

        I used a recipe in a book called The French Slow Cooker and made it in (duh) my slow cooker. It was remarkably good and required none of the multi-day prep, provided that you buy prepared duck confit. It had incredible flavor and my guests raved.

        1 Reply
        1. re: loratliff

          French people make Cassoulet in a day and laugh at it taking 3-5 days to complete.

          1. I love Cassoulet and make it often. I've done the long versions… even the Paula Wolfort one, which I spread over 5 days, even using pork skin to line the pot. It was wonderful. But a friend of mine who is an excellent cook devised a 'quick fire' cassoulet I love. It's a great weeknight dish and would be perfect for your duck. It's a throw things together dish. Here you go:

            QUICK FIRE CASSOULET

            If you have time, marinate chicken legs/thighs and/or duck or pork chops overnight in salt, pepper, garlic, olive oil and thyme/rosemary (or whatever you have.)

            Bring to room temp. Sear them on each side until crispy, then remove from pan.

            Next add chopped bacon and onions, chopped celery and carrots, garlic, and some chopped fennel if you have it.

            Caramelize these very well, a good long time. Deglaze with a shot of whiskey (of course) then add stock, 2-3 cans of white beans, bring to simmer, adjust seasoning.

            Add back chicken legs, pork chops and some sausages, partially submerged in your beans. Throw in oven until chicken is cooked through.

            I usually remove chicken from pan, top with Panko/Parmesan/parsley then broil until browned, then hit it with some more parsley.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Tom P

              I'm just finishing it now. Wonderful flavors!
              I'm adding the duck just near the end to be the top layer.
              I used 'Harvey's Bristol Cream' instead of whiskey.
              I had some chinese pork belly so I used it.
              Thanks and Merry Christmas to all CHers.

              1. re: Tom P

                Tom, do you mean you put the chicken in the broiler with the PPP, or the pan sans chicken?

                I haven't had cassoulet since I spent a night in the Grand Hotel de la Opera Tolouse.

                1. re: MsDiPesto

                  I guess that is what my friend meant when he wrote out the recipe. I myself don't remove it.. though I don't always broil it either. It usually is pretty great already! I'd stick the whole thing in together.