Serving tip: When the cassoulet comes out of the oven, it will be much too hot to eat. Letting it stand for 20 minutes before serving allows it to cool and ensures that the beans soak up more of the liquid. The individual portions of cassoulet cool all too rapidly, so make sure to serve them on warmed dishes.
- 4 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 celery stalk, halved crosswise
- 1 leek, dark-green part only, rinsed well
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 ounces fatback or uncured pork belly, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 8 ounces pork shoulder, cut into 3/4-inch dice
- 1 whole clove
- 1 medium onion, halved
- 1 smoked ham hock
- 1 medium carrot
- 1 3/4 cups whole peeled tomatoes with juice, chopped (from a 14 1/2-ounce can)
- 2 cups dried navy, Great Northern or Tarbais beans, soaked in cold water for 12 hours
- 1 garlic clove, halved
- 2 legs duck confit (homemade or store-bought), skinned and separated at the joint
- 8 ounces fresh garlic sausage (see the Guide), cut into 1/2-inch half-moons
- 4 cups coarsely torn fresh bread (preferably from a crusty, rustic loaf)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Bundle the parsley, bay leaf, rosemary, thyme, celery and leek to form a bouquet garni, wrapping kitchen twine around the aromatics several times to secure -- which ensures easy retrieval of the ingredients after they've infused the cooking liquid with flavor.
Warm the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the fatback or pork belly, and cook until it is golden on all sides and has begun to render its fat, about 5 minutes. Add the pork shoulder, and cook until golden on all sides, about 8 minutes total.
Stick the clove in half the onion, and add to the pot along with the bouquet garni, ham hock, carrot, tomatoes and juice and beans. Add enough cold water to cover by 1 to 2 inches (about 8 cups). Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, and simmer gently until the beans are tender throughout but not falling apart, 40 to 50 minutes.
Remove the pot from the heat. Discard the carrot, onion and bouquet garni. Transfer the ham hock to a cutting board, reserving the liquid, and let cool slightly. Trim the meat and gelatin from the bone, dicing and returning them to the pot. Discard the bone.
Preheat oven to 300 degress F. Rub the cut side of the garlic clove over the entire inner surface of a small (5-quart) Dutch oven or other ovenproof vessel. This allows a subtle though distinct garlic flavor to infuse the resulting cassoulet.
Using a wire skimmer or a slotted spoon, place half the bean mixture in the Dutch oven, spreading it evenly. Leave the cooking liquid in the pot.
Arrange the duck confit and sausage on top of the beans in the Dutch oven to create a single, snug layer. Spoon the remaining beans over the meat, reserving the cooking liquid.
Add enough cooking liquid so the beans are almost, but not quite, submerged. Reserve the remaining liquid. Transfer the pot to the oven and cook, uncovered, for 2 hours. Check the liquid every 30 minutes to make sure it is no more than 1/2 inch below the beans, and add liquid or water as necessary. Do not stir.
After the cassoulet has cooked for 2 hours, toss the bread and butter in a bowl. Sprinkle over the cassoulet, and return to the oven until the beans are tender and the bread is golden, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Before serving, let the cassoulet stand at room temperature for 20 minutes to cool and to allow the beans to absorb some of the liquid. You can refrigerate the cassoulet in an airtight container for up to 3 days; rewarm in an oven heated to 300 degrees F.
Recipe reprinted by permission of Martha Stewart Living. All rights reserved.
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