Servings: ten to twelve.
Making this legendary southern French casserole is definitely a project. For the best flavor, Prepare the duck confit at least one week (or up to two months) before making cassoulet—the flavor and texture improve as the duck legs cure in their fat. For more tips on breaking up the work over a few days, see Make-Ahead Tips, below.
And, since you’ll need only about half the confit, check out our Test Kitchen blog for ideas on how to use the rest.
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If there’s a layer of cooked-on juices in the pan, deglaze with a few spoonfuls of water and add that to the vegetables and pancetta.
Over medium-high heat, add the remaining 1 Tbs. duck fat or olive oil to the skillet, and quickly cook the garlic until it’s fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the chopped tomatoes and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring frequently, until they reach the consistency of a chunky sauce, 5 to 6 minutes. Set aside.
Choose a vessel for the cassoulet: A flameproof roasting pan that’s about 16x13x3 inches works well, as does a 9- to 10-quart Dutch oven. Adjust the oven rack so that the pan you’re using will sit about 6 inches below the broiler. Heat the oven to 350°F.
Heat 1 tsp. of the olive oil in the pan over medium heat. Add the sausages and cook until nicely browned all over, 5 to 6 minutes (they don’t need to be fully cooked at this point). Remove from the heat. Set the sausages aside to cool; then cut into quarters. Pour off any fat from the pan.
Spoon half the bean mixture into the pan in an even layer. Arrange the sausage, pork shoulder, and duck meat evenly over the beans. Top with the rest of the beans. Pour in the defatted pork broth and then add the bean-cooking liquid until the level comes to just below the beans—you should be able to see the liquid but it shouldn’t cover the beans. Bake the cassoulet, uncovered, for 45 minutes.
Toss the remaining 3 Tbs. olive oil with the breadcrumbs, cheese, and zest (if using), and spread about 2 cups over the surface of the cassoulet. Continue baking until the crumbs start to brown and the beans are sizzling around the edges, about 45 minutes more.
Sprinkle on the remaining crumbs, turn the broiler to high, and broil until the crumbs are crunchy and browned, about 1 minute. Remove the cassoulet and let it sit for at least 45 minutes so the juices can thicken slightly. Serve hot or warm.
Make Ahead Tips
Cook the beans up to 2 days ahead, and refrigerate them separately from their cooking liquid (discard the herb stems, onion, and chile). You can also cook the pork up to 2 days ahead, and the vegetables and tomato sauce up to 1 day ahead.
Terrific recipe for a crowd. I saved some time by having my local butcher make the duck confit for me. (And I really did not want to deal with all that duck fat!) I followed the recipe very closely and I was very happy with the taste of the beans after adding the vegetables. Next time I could probably take it from there and add whatever combination of meat I wanted. I think the duck definitely takes it up a notch for company. Worth the effort!
I consider myself an adventurous cook but have never made Cassoulet or even Duck Confit before. This recipe was enough to inspire me to do both, and I'm so glad that I did!The results were truly excellent and the time invested, while it lasted a week, were not taxing at all. Each of the steps are extremely simple but the result is amazing. I would recommend making this for a dinner party or any special event.My boys who are 5 and 3 also gobbled it up... my 5 year old asks "Are we having Cassoulet for dinner tonight?" often.I need to whip up another batch soon.It's indeed better the next day.Don't be shy - just jump in and do it. You won't be sorry.
This was my first time making duck confit and cassoulet. I cut this recipe down substantially because I only had two people to eat it. As I made the confit, cooked the beans, cooked the pork, stowing various containers of cooking liquid and ingredients in my fridge, I wondered more than once if this would be worth the time and effort I was putting into it. And the results were delicious the first time around, but I have to say this is definitely one of those better with time dishes because it provided some of the best leftovers I've ever had and made several delicious lunches for me to take to work.
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