For PART I of this story, click here!
It had been three months since our trip to France, and David’s birthday was in just a few days. Sharon was in town for the weekend and Maggy and Andy were coming out from New York. All the conditions were right for opening the second can of duck confit. Although it wasn’t quite cassoulet season yet, there was enough of a chill in the air that it worked.
So here’s my recipe. It’s much simpler than the Julia Child one that I made for years, especially when you start with canned duck confit!
So that you all could make this dish too, I googled canned duck confit. I was thrilled to find similar sized cans as mine on Amazon for just $9.99! Unfortunately it appears not to be available at the moment, but it says you can “sign up to be notified when this item becomes available.”
I’ve got one can left. When I break into that one, I’ll let you know. In the meantime, it’s nice to know I’ve got a new source… maybe!
A Simpler Cassoulet
Serves 12 to 15
If you don’t want to mail order duck confit, you can also buy roast duck legs, adding skin and bones to the lamb stew and substituting olive oil for the duck fat. Of course you can make it yourself as well. There are plenty of sites out there that instruct how to do it.
3 pounds boneless lamb roast, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes (or a combination of
boneless lamb roast and boneless pork shoulder roast)
1 can duck confit (about 48 ounces, 4 whole legs), packed in oil, skin and bones removed and set aside, meat left in large chunks, fat reserved
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound mild Italian sausage
8 ounces smoked cooked sausage, (e.g. kielbasa), cut into 6 pieces
1 can (14.5 ounces) chicken broth plus water to equal 2 cups
1 cup full-bodied red wine, such as cabernet sauvignon
2 large onions, cut into medium dice (3 cups)
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 ounces, thin-sliced prosciutto, minced
2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes
6 cans (16 ounces) canned white beans, drained (9 cups drained)
3 cups fresh breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
Adjust oven rack to low position and heat oven to 450 degrees.Place lamb chunks in a bowl, drizzle with 2 tablespoons duck fat and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper; turn to coat and set aside.
Place sausages, 1 cup of water, and 1 tablespoon of the duck fat in a large heavy-duty roasting pan set over 2 burners. Cover with heavy-duty foil and turn heat on medium-high; cook until sausages lose their raw color, about 5 minutes. Remove and reserve foil; continue to cook until water evaporates. Add smoked sausages and cook, turning frequently, until all sausages brown, 5 to 8 minutes longer. Remove from pan. When sausages have cooled, cut Italian sausages into 24 chunks; halve smoked sausages lengthwise, and cut into 12 pieces; set aside.
Add lamb cubes to the empty, hot pan; cook until a brown crust forms on 2 sides, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer lamb to a large soup kettle (set roasting pan aside but do not wash), along with duck bones and skin, broth and wine. Bring to a simmer for a few minute to burn off alcohol and then cover pot with reserved foil, pressing down so that it almost touches the meat. Seal foil tightly around the top of the pot, then cover with lid. Bake, without checking, until meat chunks are very tender, 1 hour and 15 minutes.
While lamb cooks, heat roasting pan, adding enough duck fat to equal 2 tablespoons. Add onions and garlic; sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add prosciutto and thyme; sauté to intensify flavors, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Add tomatoes and beans; simmer to blend flavors, about 10 minutes (turn off burner if lamb isn’t done).
Transfer lamb chunks to bean mixture. Strain broth, adding water if necessary, to equal 2 cups; discard duck bones. Stir in broth, duck, and sausages; bring to a simmer. Add water, if necessary, to make a soupy, moist casserole.
An hour before serving, adjust oven rack to lower middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix breadcrumbs, butter, and parsley. Sprinkle over cassoulet; bake until crumbs are golden and stew is bubbly, about 45 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes; serve.