Very often we have traditional French cassoulet for Christmas dinner. It takes about 3 days to make it but is is worth the effort.
I ordered all of my ingredients from D'Artagnan this year. Next time I will only order some of the ingredients from them. Haricot Turbais are the best beans to use for this dish and it is worth ordering them from D'Artagnan.
My recipe calls for 3 pounds. These need to soak in water for 24 hours.
Next day, drain the beans.
Here is the D'Artagnan lineup. For this recipe you need 6 duck leg confits. The only place I know to buy these is from D'Artegnan. That goes for the tub of duck fat and the 2 tubs of duck demi glace. As far as the sausages I used in this, never again. I found the D'Artegnan duck sausage to be flavorless and I did not like the consistency. Instead, use a good smoked sausage such as kielbasa or a good smoked bratwurst or knockwurst. Use something very flavorful. I think Debrezner would be excellent in this.
Place the soaked beans in a heavy pot. Add 2 large onions cut in half and studded with 8 cloves. Add 12 peeled garlic cloves, 6 carrots, a bouquet garni(parsley, sage, rosemary, bay leaves and peppercorns)s and a 1 pound chunk of panchetta. Bring to a boil and turn down to simmer for about 3 hours or until the beans begin to soften.
Towards the end of the beans being ready, brown all of the meats and sausages in some of the duck fat until they are golden and crusty.
Drain the beans and discard everything but the panchetta. Cut it into small cubes.
Use about 1/2 cup of duck fat to coat the sides and bottom of a heavy pot.
Spread half of the beans in the bottom of the pot.
Sprinkle them with salt and pepper.
Sprinkle the cubed panchetta over the beans.
Place the duck legs and sausages over the beans.
This is one of the duck sausages I really did not like. Cut 6 carrots into pieces and add them.
Add the rest of the beans and more salt and pepper. Drizzle about 1/3 cup of melted duck fat over the beans.
Mix the duck demi glace with 4 cups of water and pour over the beans. The beans should be almost covered so add additional stock or water if needed.
Bake this in a 325 degree oven for about 3 hours. At this point the cassoulet should be refrigerated for at least 24 hours or up to 3 days. Cassoulet's flavor improves over a couple days.
On the day you wish to serve it, place it in a 400 degree oven and cook for about 1-1 1/2 hours checking the liquid to make sure the beans do not dry out. Add more liquid if necessary. The consistency should be that of a thick stew. The top should form a brown crust.
Though I was not thrilled with the sausages I used, the cassoulet was excellent. Next time I will go back to using the above mentioned sausage which will produce even more flavor and they will be less expensive too!