Before this challenge I had neither heard of a confit, nor a cassoulet. I am now a great fan of both. Come to think of it, D and the girls are too. The Daring Kitchen challenge once again has added a new dish to our family's repertoire.
"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."
I started this one by amassing ingredients. Meat, meat, beans, and - oh! - meat. The ducks mentioned in my last blog, a side of pork, pork sausage, and bacon, along with some northern white beans, were all found easily enough. A trip to the Butchery garnered the all-important duck fat (yes, you can buy it in plastic tubs, but it's not cheap) for the confit.
|Salted duck legs|
This then sat, still in the fat (making for an old-time preservation method, since the fat sealed the meat and extended its storage life), in the fridge to await the cassoulet. I do plan to try a confit on its own sometime, as the meat can be browned under the broiler to enjoy on its own.
Next stage: A few days ago I started tonight's supper. The beans soaked overnight, then were cooked the next day with side pork, onion, and a bouquet garni.
A puree of cooked bacon, onion and garlic was prepared, the sausages were browned in duck fat (of course!). Yesterday it was assembled as what the girls called "bean lasagna" as we layered it.
|That's a lot of food. This is my roaster for the 25-lb Christmas turkeys.|
It roasted for two hours before cooling and sitting in the fridge overnight. Today I melted butter, cooked some garlic, and tossed it in Japanese bread crumbs and parsley. The cassoulet was put in the oven and heated, pushing the top crust down as it formed, and then topped with the bread crumbs.
|Ready to serve!|
|On the plate. This is serving #1. We all had seconds.|
First off, this recipe is massive. For supper we had friends over and only ate about half of it. The flavours had melded beautifully, but there was still some distinction. It was hearty, tasty, rich, with that sort of basic goodness that comes from slow-cooked foods. We will make this again! We had rave reviews all around the table, including the kids.
While we may not be in the subzero of Manitoba chopping wood, I'm sure it will suit a day's skating or sledding here in subzero Ontario. Delicious!