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Daring Kitchen January: Cassoulet

Posted by Jeanne on January 14, 2011

Our January 2011 Challenge comes from Jenni of The Gingered Whisk and Lisa from Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. They have challenged the Daring Cooks to learn how to make a confit and use it within the traditional French dish of Cassoulet. They have chosen a traditional recipe from Anthony Bourdain and Michael Ruhlman, which was originally featured on an episode of “No Reservations.”

I changed some things (of course) – one of the suggested changes was not to use the pork rind, so I didn’t.  Also I didn’t confit duck legs (although Curt has been dying to do so), and instead did some chicken legs.

Chicken confit, inspired by this Emeril Lagasse recipe for Chicken Confit


2 chicken legs, thighs, and wings, excess fat trimmed and reserved (about 2 pounds)
1 TB kosher salt
0.5 tsp freshly ground black pepper
5 garlic cloves
4 bay leaves
4 sprigs fresh thyme (about 1 tsp dried)
1.5 tsp black peppercorns
0.5 tsp table salt
About 2 C olive oil


1. Lay the chicken pieces on a platter, skin side down. Sprinkle with kosher salt and black pepper. Place the garlic cloves, bay leaves, and thyme on top.  Cover and refrigerate for 12 hours.

2.  Get out your slow cooker.  Remove the chicken from the refrigerator. Remove the garlic and  bay leaves and reserve. Rinse the chicken with cool water, rubbing off some of the salt and pepper. Pat dry with paper towels.

4. Put the reserved garlic and bay leaves in the bottom of the slow cooker. Sprinkle evenly with the peppercorns and salt. Lay the chicken on top, skin side down. Cover with olive oil – you may need a bit more.  Cover and cook on low for 12 to 14 hours, or until the meat pulls away from the bone.

And then totally forget to take a picture of the finished product.  Oops.

Cassoulet, inspired by Cassoulet by Anthony Bourdain and Michael Ruhlman (as featured on the Travel Channel’s “No Reservations”)


2 lb. dried beans (they recommend Tarbais.  I used half Yellow Eye and half Mayacoba, from Rancho Gordo as always)
2 lb. fresh pork belly
salt and pepper
0.25 C duck fat (I actually used goose fat for this)
6 sausages
3 onions, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
2 confit chicken legs, meat pulled from bones and coarsely chopped

Day One

1.Place the beans in the large bowl and cover with cold water so that there are at least 2 or 3 inches of water above the top of the beans. Soak overnight.  (Beans will double in size upon soaking, so use a big bowl!)

Day Two

1. Drain and rinse the beans and place in the large pot.
2. Add the pork belly, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and continue to simmer until the beans are tender, about 30 minutes more.
3. Let cool for 20 minutes.
4. Remove the pork belly, cut it into 2-inch squares, and set aside. (If you plan to wait another day before finishing the dish, wait to cut the pork belly until then.)
5. Strain the beans and set aside, reserving the cooking liquid.
6. In a sauté pan, heat all but 1 TB of the duck fat over medium-high heat until it shimmers and becomes transparent.
7. Carefully add the sausages and brown on all sides.
8. Remove sausages and set aside, draining on paper towels (I decided to cut them up as well).
Mmmmm, sausages and chicken confit.
9. In the same pan, over medium-high heat, brown the sliced onions, and the garlic.
10. Once browned, remove from the heat and transfer to the blender. Add the final TB of duck fat and purée until smooth. Set aside.
11. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
12.  Arrange all your ingredients in alternating layers in a very large dutch oven or other oven-safe pot, beginning with a layer of beans, then sausages, confit, and pork belly, beans, more meat, and finally more beans, adding a dab of the onion purée between each layer.

13. Add enough of the bean cooking liquid to just cover the beans, reserving 1 C in the refrigerator for later use.
14. Cook the cassoulet in the oven for 1 hour, then reduce the heat to 250ºF and cook for another hour.
15. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Refrigerate overnight.

Day Three

1. Preheat the oven to moderate 350ºF again.
2. Cook the cassoulet for an hour.
3. Break the crust on the top with the spoon and add 0.25 C of the reserved cooking liquid.
4. Reduce the heat to 250ºF and continue cooking another 15 minutes, or until screamingly hot through and through. Then serve.

Ok not the most beautiful photo ever.

DEFINITELY not the most beautiful plate ever. But certainly in the running for most delicious. Making my own confit is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time, but who knows when I would have gotten to it. And I love cassoulet – even more, I love that cassoulet is gluten-free!  And that it makes a VAT of food, half of which is now in my freezer waiting to be eaten on another cold winter night.

In summary:  awesome challenge, awesome food.  Thanks Daring Kitchen and thanks Jenni and Lisa!


5 Responses to “Daring Kitchen January: Cassoulet”

  1. Wow, you turned out one delicious and beautiful cassoulet! Love the mix of beans! Thanks so much for taking part in our challenge!

  2. Shelley C said

    I had to laugh when you say that they aren’t the best photos, because this was kind of a hard challenge to photograph, but I must say – that looks like an absolutely delicious cassoulet! Really great job on the challenge.

  3. Well done for a great result!

    Stay JOLLY!

  4. Anna said

    Your cassoulet looks great, I love the idea of mixing different beans!

  5. […] Cassoulet.  […]

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