Duck Cassoulet

Tucker has been itching to try making a cassoulet, the only problem is that it is traditionally made with pork (which I don't eat). But Tucker decided to try making it with duck! I don't normally love duck, but this was just amazing. It was a hearty, warm, salty, delicious casserole perfect for a cold winter day! NOTE: This is very time consuming, we did it over the course of a weekend. Make sure you leave enough time to do this right. Trust me though, it is worth the effort!

Duck Cassoulet
Adapted from Cooks Illustrated

1/4 cup table salt
1 large onion , peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
6 medium garlic cloves
2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
12 parsley stems , with leaves attached
2 bay leaves
6 duck legs
4 cups duck fat (canola oil can be substituted)

Table salt
1 pound dried cannellini beans (about 2 cups), rinsed and picked over
1 bay leaf
4 sprigs thyme
1 pound turkey kielbasa (obviously you can use real kielbasa if you want)
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
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
4 large slices high-quality white sandwich bread , torn into rough pieces
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves

  1. FOR THE CONFIT: Process salt, onion, garlic, peppercorns, parsley, and bay leaves in food processor until smooth paste with some small chunks forms, about 30 seconds, scraping down side of bowl as necessary. Massage duck legs with salt mixture and place in gallon-sized zipper-lock bag. Press out air, seal bag, and place in refrigerator 12 to 18 hours.
  2. FOR THE STEW: 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.
  3. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Rinse duck legs under cold running water, rubbing off any salt mixture. Pat legs dry with paper towels. Heat duck fat in large saucepan over medium heat until completely transparent (if using canola oil, it should register about 135 degrees on instant-read thermometer). Add duck legs, making sure they are completely submerged in fat. Transfer pot to oven and cook until meat offers no resistance when poked with fork, 3 to 4 hours.
  4. Using kitchen twine, tie together bay leaf, and thyme, and set aside. Place sausage 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.
  5. 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. Add onion and carrots; cook, stirring constantly, until onion is translucent, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 30 seconds. 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. Stir in diced tomatoes and bay leaf bundle.
  6. 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.
  7. Remove confit and stew from oven and increase temperature to 350 degrees. Using slotted spoon, transfer duck legs to large plate and cool slightly. Once cool enough to handle, remove skin from duck legs and discard. Remove meat from bones, leaving meat in large pieces; discard bones. Meanwhile, remove bay leaf bundle from bean stew and discard. 
  8. 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.
  9. Meanwhile, chop bread into 1/2 inch chunks and toss with remaining 2 tablespoons oil and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  10. Sprinkle 1/2 cup bread-crumb mixture evenly over casserole; bake, covered, 15 minutes. Remove lid and bake 15 minutes longer. 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.

The Chef de Plunge on Foodista


Megan said…
This looks really good! It's the perfect meal for this gross, cold, rainy weather. I can imagine holing up inside with a bowl of this! And that fact that it has duck fat just makes it sound that much more delicious!

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