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The classic sausage, preserved duck or goose, and bean casserole that is at the heart of traditional Gascon cooking. While the ingredients vary according to who makes it, the kind of sausages and confit you have available, what region you're from, and personal preference, it's important that it slowly cooks so all of the ingredients have time to marry together.
- 1 1/2 pounds navy or Great Northern beans, rinsed and picked over
- 1/2 pound Bacon in one piece
- 6 ounces fresh pork rind or fat back, in one piece, rinsed well
- 10 garlic cloves
- 2 medium onions, cut in half, divided
- 1 carrot, coarsely chopped
- Bouquet garni made of 5 parsley sprigs, 3 celery leaves, 1 thyme sprig, 1 bay leaf, 5 cloves and 10 peppercorns, wrapped in cheesecloth and tied
- 10 cups water
- 1/2 pound duck gizzard confit
- 4 confit duck legs
- 3 cups duck and veal demi-glace dissolved in 3 cups water
- 2 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 4 links (8 1/2 ounces) duck and Armagnac sausages, lightly browned, then cut in half crosswise
- 1/2 pound fresh garlic sausage, cut into 8 slices
- 1/4 cup duck fat, melted
Cover beans with water and soak overnight. Drain and put into a large heavy casserole, preferably enameled cast iron, with bacon, pork rind, garlic, 1 onion, the carrot and bouquet garni. Cover with the 10 cups of water and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat, stirring often, until beans are barely tender, about 1 hour. Drain and return to casserole, discarding onion and bouquet garni.
Add remaining onion, the gizzard confit, duck legs, demi-glace mixture, tomatoes, and bring to a boil. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, and simmer over low heat until gizzards and legs are tender when pierced with a fork, about 15 minutes.
Drain bean mixture in a colander over a bowl; reserve 5 cups of the cooking liquid. Discard bacon and pork rind. Remove duck legs and cut each in half at the joint. Season beans with 1 teaspoon salt and a few grindings of pepper.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Place half of the bean mixture in casserole. Add duck legs, duck sausages, and garlic sausage and cover with remaining beans. Add reserved cooking liquid and drizzle duck fat over top. Cover and bake until hot and bubbling, about 2 hours. Cassoulet may be prepared ahead to this point, then cooled and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before proceeding.
Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees F. Uncover casserole and bake until top is browned, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and serve.
Recipe reprinted by permission of D'Artagnan. All rights reserved.
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