Jan 14, 2011

Cassoulet--Daring Cooks Challenge Jan. 2011

This month's daring cooking challenge was for cassoulet.  I had my severe reservations about this dish before starting it, while doing it and even about to take my first bite.
First of all I had difficulties finding the ingredients. Maybe I was just not looking in the right places, but I couldn't find the duck fat for the confit.  However I persevered! And in the end was GREATLY REWARDED!
"Cassoulet is a rich, slow cooked stew or casserole that originated in the south of France during the 14th century. It traditionally contains pork, sausages, and white beans as well as a duck or goose confit and then topped with fried bread crumbs or cracklings. The dish is named after its traditional cooking vessel, the cassole, which is a deep, round earthenware pot with slanted sides. This is a dish that traditionally takes about three days to prepare, but is oh so worth all the effort!! A confit, in case you don’t know, is one of the oldest ways to preserve food. It is essentially any kind of food that has been immersed in any kind of fat for both flavor and preservation. When stored in a cool place, confit can last for several months! Typically meats (most often waterfowl) are preserved in fats, while fruits are preserved in sugar."

inspired by Anthony Bourdain's recipe
5 white beans
1 large ham hock
1 pound thick cut bacon
1 two pound pork roast, slow cooked and shredded
1 onion, cut into 4 pieces
1 bouquet garni
salt and pepper
6 pork sausages
3 onions, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
4 confit chicken breasts (confit in olive oil)
1 c. panko

Place the beans in the large bowl and cover with cold water so that there are at least 2 or 3 inches of water above the top of the beans. Soak overnight. Drain and rinse the beans and place in the large pot. Add the ham hock, the quartered onion, 1/4 pound of the bacon, and the bouquet garni. Cover with water, add salt and pepper to taste, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the beans are tender, about an hour. Let cool for 20 minutes, then discard the onion and the bouquet garni. Remove the ham hock,strain the beans and the bacon and set aside, reserving the cooking liquid separately.

In the sauté pan, heat tbsp of oil from the chicken confit over medium-high heat carefully add the sausages and brown on all sides. Remove and set aside, draining on paper towels. In the same pan, over medium-high heat, brown the sliced onions, the garlic and the reserved squares of bacon from the beans. Once browned, remove from the heat and transfer to the blender. Add 1 tablespoon/14 g of the remaining olive oil and puree until smooth. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Place the uncooked bacon in the bottom of a deep ovenproof earthenware dish. You're looking to line the inside, almost like a pie crust. Arrange all your ingredients in alternating layers, beginning with a layer of beans, then sausages, then more beans, then pork roast, beans, chicken confit and finally more beans, adding a dab of the onion and pork rind purée between each layer. Add enough of the bean cooking liquid to just cover the beans, reserving 1 cup in the refrigerator for later use. Cook the cassoulet in the oven for 1 hour, then reduce the heat to 250ºF and cook for another hour. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Refrigerate overnight. Preheat the oven to 350ºF and cook the cassoulet for an hour. Break the crust on the top with the spoon and add 1/4 cup of the reserved cooking liquid. Reduce the heat to 250ºF and continue cooking another 15 minutes. Add panko to top and dot on a bit of the chicken confit oil.

Blog Checking Lines: 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.



Creating Nirvana said...

Your cassoulet looks excellent. I love the crust on the top photo. Great job on this challenge.

Lisa said...

I agree with all of the above, your cassoulet looks awesome! Thanks so much for taking part in our challenge this month!

aggieam01 said...


Reeni said...

What a delicious cassoulet! It is one of the most comforting meals I can think of! I'm glad you found all the ingredients - duck fat sounds like a tough one - don't think I ever saw it in the market.

TaGa_Luto said...

Hi, Faith! Thank you so much for visiting my blog. I totally agree w/ you this challenge was well worth it. You did a good job w/ this challenge.

Please Do Not Feed The Animals. said...

Oh yours looks lovely and I really like your dish - nice and rustic. Well done on persevering to find the ingredients. I just cheated. Oops.

Lisa said...

Wow, that cassoulet turned out great. Hats off to you for trying and succeeding with this recipe.

Merut said...

I just got my first kitchen challenge for February. I am super excited. I can totally relate to your reservations about the cassoulet. Just reading the ingredients and the time was daunting enough. Congrats on perservering!