Gateway Cassoulet

By cooking several recipe components separately in the same pot before combining them all to meld in the oven, Sylvie Bigar reduces the active cooking time for cassoulet to a little over an hour, while retaining the long-cooked, richly developed flavor of the traditional recipe. (Read more about Bigar's step-by-step process for making this same-day cassoulet).

Gateway Cassoulet
Photo: Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Christina Daley
Active Time:
1 hrs 10 mins
Soak Time:
12 hrs
Total Time:
16 hrs 35 mins
Yield:
4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups dried cannellini beans (preferably Rancho Gordo Marcella Beans)

  • 1 medium-size (10-ounce) yellow onion, coarsely chopped (about 2 cups)

  • 8 medium garlic cloves

  • ¼ cup water

  • 1 tablespoon torn fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

  • 1 ¾ teaspoons kosher salt

  • ½ teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

  • 1 (12-ounce) skin-on pork belly

  • 1 tablespoon duck fat (such as Epic Provisions)

  • 8 ounces fresh pork sausage (such as French garlic sausage), cut into about 2-inch-long pieces

  • 1 medium (3-ounce) carrot, peeled and finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)

  • 1 small (14-ounce) fresh ham hock

  • 2 fully cooked confit duck legs (about 7 ounces each)

  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste

  • 5 cups chicken stock, as needed

Directions

  1. Rinse beans thoroughly. Place beans in a large bowl, and add water to cover by at least 2 inches. Soak, uncovered, at room temperature 12 hours.

  2. Drain beans; rinse under cold water. Fill a large pot or Dutch oven with water; bring to a boil over high. Add beans; return to a boil over high. Boil 7 minutes. Drain beans; rinse under cold water. Transfer beans to a medium bowl, and set aside.

  3. Process onion, garlic, 1/4 cup water, parsley, salt, and thyme in a blender until smooth, about 30 seconds; set aside.

  4. Trim fat cap with skin from pork belly, and chop into small pieces. Cut remaining pork belly into 1-inch cubes. Add chopped pork belly fat to a Dutch oven or large skillet; cook over medium, stirring occasionally, until fat has rendered, about 4 minutes. Add pork belly cubes; cook, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer pork belly to a small bowl. Reserve drippings in Dutch oven.

  5. Preheat oven to 350°F. Add duck fat to drippings in Dutch oven. Add sausage pieces; cook over medium, turning often, until browned all over, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer sausage pieces to a small bowl. Reserve drippings in Dutch oven.

  6. Carefully pour pureed onion mixture into drippings in Dutch oven. Reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring often and scraping any pieces of meat stuck to bottom of Dutch oven, until some of the water cooks off and onion mixture thickens and darkens, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.

  7. Scrape onion mixture into blanched beans in bowl. Add carrot to mixture, and stir until well coated.

  8. Spread about one-third of the bean mixture (about 12/3 cups) in a 31/2- to 41/2-quart oven-safe clay cassole or Dutch oven, enough to cover the bottom. Layer pork belly over beans. Add sausages and ham hock in an even layer. Finally, place duck legs on top, and cover with remaining beans; spread beans in an even layer. Sprinkle with nutmeg and a good grind of pepper. Pour in 3 cups stock, just enough to cover beans, pressing down to submerge, if needed. Reserve remaining 2 cups stock to add during the cooking process.

  9. Bake, uncovered, in preheated oven until cassoulet comes to a simmer, bubbling along sides and in spots in center of cassole, and a crust begins to form (surface of beans will look dry), 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove cassoulet from oven. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Break the cassoulet crust in 1 spot using the back of a spoon, and drizzle 1/2 cup stock over bean mixture to ensure cassoulet remains moist. Immediately return to oven. Bake at 325°F, uncovered, until beans are tender and a crust forms over top of beans, 2 hours to 2 hours and 15 minutes, breaking the crust in 1 spot with the back of a spoon every 30 minutes to drizzle in about 1/3 cup stock to ensure that cassoulet remains moist. (Cassoulet should be gently bubbling throughout cook time.)

  10. Remove cassoulet from oven. Let cool 15 minutes. Place cassole at the center of the table, and serve family-style.

Note

Rancho Gordo Marcella Beans, a thin-skinned cannellini bean, may be purchased at ranchogordo.com. Fully cooked confit duck legs and French garlic pork sausage may be purchased at dartagnan.com. Epic Provisions duck fat can be purchased at epicprovisions.com.

Make Ahead

Cassoulet may be stored in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 3 days.

Suggested Pairing

Robust Southern French red: Vincent Paris Les Côtes St-Joseph

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