Cassoulet with Duck Confit, Toulouse Sausage and Pork Belly

Updated: Jan 28

The traditional French Cassoulet is probably one of the most emblematic and famous French dishes.There are many different recipes in the region of Languedoc,

This traditional recipe is inspired by the 1929's cookbook “Le Festin occitan” written by chef Prosper Montagné.

It is still made the traditional way in Castelnaudary the town of cassoulet's origin. There is no simple, easy or quick way to make cassoulet,

This authentic dish needs labor, patience and a procedure of low and slow cooking and baking, that's what distinguishes cassoulet from any other bean stew

Yes! time and patience is the key to this recipe in particular, with at least three to four hours of low and slow cooking and a significant amount of ingredients to prepare, you will spent a big part of the day in your kitchen!


Ingredients;

This recipe serves 5 persons.

Duck confit;

5 duck legs, 2kg duck or goose fat, 5 garlic cloves , 4 sprigs of thyme, 3 bay leaves, 2 ½ tbsp coarse sea salt, 1 tbsp crushed pepper, 5cl water

Chicken stock;

Chicken bones leftover’s (optional), 3 tbsp chicken stock powder, 1 onion, 1 garlic bulb, 1 leek, 3 celery stalks, 4 carrots, ½ bunch thyme, 4 bay leaves, 3 tbsp duck or goose fat, 1 tbsp black peppercorns, 1 nutmeg

Cassoulet;

1 kg dried white beans, 1 kg pork belly, 5 Toulouse sausages, 400 grams salted bacon, 2 sheets Pork bard, ½ bunch thyme, 8 garlic cloves, 1 ½ tbsp crushed black peppercorns

The day before

  • Rinse the duck legs under cold water and dry them.

  • Chop grossly the garlic cloves

  • Mix the coarse salt with the bay leaves, thyme, crushed pepper and garlic

  • Rub the duck legs generously with the mixture and preserve in the refrigerator overnight (12hours at the minimum).

  • Place the beans in a cooking pot or container and cover largely with cold water, let them soak overnight

You can also choose to make the chicken stock the day before (or the next morning).


The chicken Stock;

Poor 3 litres water in a large cooking pot.

Cut the rind from the pork belly an add both to the pot.

Peel the onion and cut the garlic bulb in half, add to the pot.

Cut the leek, the 3 celery stalks and the 4 carrots in big chunks and add to the pot.

Ad ½ a bunch of thyme the 4 bay leaves, 3 tbsp duck or goose fat, 3 tbsp chicken stock powder, 1 tbsp black peppercorns and 1 nutmeg to the pot.

If you have any chicken carcasses or pork bones leftovers, don’t hesitate to add them to.

Bring your stock to the boiling point.

After 45 minutes, remove the pork belly and the rind and preserve in your refrigerator.

Set the stock on medium low heat and gently boil for another 2 hours.

After 2 hours, filter de stock from the ingredients and let it cool down.

The next morning where ready for the real deal!

The duck legs have been cured for at least 12 hours. Rinse them under cold water and use some paper towel to dry them.

Melt the duck or goose fat in a deep pot or skillet and make sure that the temperature stays in between 80° and 90° Celsius. If you don’t have duck or goose fat, olive oil or beef fat is a good alternative.

Add the duck legs so they are completely covert. Cook the duck legs for 2 ½ hours while maintaining the temperature in between 80° and 90° Celsius. A fork should enter easily when the legs are confit.

Let them cool down on a plate; do not absorb the fat on the legs.

Filter the fat and preserve in your refrigerator. You can use it to fry any type of ingredient in the coming months.

The Beans;

Filter the white beans from the soaking water and rinse under cold water.

Add the beans to the cooled stock and bring the stock on a low boil (Starting to cook the beans in cold stock avoids them to split open.

Let the beans cook slowly for about 40 minutes; it depends on the type and size of the beans you use.

Keep in mind that they need to be cooked while preserving a little chewiness, but if they are too well done it’s not a tragedy, you can still use them.

Filter the stock from the beans and let them cool down.


The Pork and Sausages;

Cut the pork belly in to large cubes about 7 to 8 centimetres.

Add 3 tbsp of duck or goose fat in a frying pan, on medium heat.

Sear the pork cubes and the sausages light brown and preserve.

You can choose to cut the pork rind in to little bits and mix them with the beans, or you can put the rind in one piece on the bottom of your clay pot or oven pot.

Ground the 400 grams salted bacon and the 8 garlic cloves with a meat grinder or any kitchen robot you prefer.

Mix the ground bacon and garlic gently with the cold beans, try to keep the beans whole.

Montage of the Cassoulet

To make a cassoulet for 5 persons I use a cassole (clay pot) for 7 to 8 persons. The reason why is the amount of different meats you have to place in your oven pot. You can use any deep oven pot you prefer; cast iron is a good alternative.

Cover the inside of the cassole with the pork bard sheets. You can skip the pork bard if you like but it’s definitely a benefit if you want the beans to have a real creamy texture. At this point you can decide if you place the pork rind on the bottom or chop it in little bits to mix with the beans.

The gelatin released by the rind also helps to improve the texture of the cassoulet.

Place a few sprigs of thyme and bay leaves on the bottom. Herbs are important to this Provençal dish and it’s a little up to you how much you use. You may also want to add some rosemary or other herbs you like. A lot of families have their own special touch when it comes to cassoulet.

Add a first layer of beans over the herbs; keep it 2 to 3 centimetres thick. Don’t press the beans to the bottom let them breath.

Cut the sausages in half and place some on the beans with a few pieces of pork. Don’t use too many parts; there are still a few layers to go!

Cover with another layer of beans, about 2 centimetres above the meats.

Continue building your cassoulet this way to the top!

Pour the duck fat you used to sear the meat over the beans and complete to fill the cassole with the chicken stock. The stock and the beans must be on the same level.

Place the cassole or oven pot in a cold oven and set the temperature on 170° Celsius.

Cooking time; 3 ½ hours, 4 is even better!

Check every 45 minutes if the beans haven’t become too dry and add some stock eventually.

As time passes you’ll see a nice crust appearing on top of your cassoulet. The tradition says you have to break it several times but I prefer to let it go its way.

Where almost done! Take the cassoulet out of the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes.

That’s enough time to take a skillet and fry the duck confit quickly on maximum heat lightly brown.

This gives the confit a nice crust on the outside.

Place the duck confit on the cassoulet add a sprig of thyme in the middle and “let the feast begin”.




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© 2018 Wessel Woortman

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