Updated: Feb 24, 2021
Nothing warms the soul like a hearty Cassoulet.
4 cups small dried white beans (Tarbais, Great Northern, Navy) 4 fresh ham hocks
1 onion, quartered
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp pepper
1 ham bone
1/3 lb. pork rind
2 cups chopped onion
3 tablespoons finely chopped garlic (6 large cloves)
1 (3-inch) piece celery, cut into thirds 3 fresh thyme sprigs 1 bay leaf 3 whole cloves ½ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley 1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 cup seeded, crushed tomatoes or purée 1 1/2 teaspoons salt 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tbsp. duck fat (you may substitute chicken fat or olive oil)
4 duck confit leg quarters, legs and thighs separated 1 lb cooked garlic pork sausage or kielbasa, cut crosswise into 1/3-inch-thick slices
Soak beans 8 hours. Drain.
Place ham hocks in large pot with quartered onion, salt and pepper. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours. Allow to cool to lukewarm. Drain ham hocks and discard onion. Cut meat from ham hocks in four pieces, discard bones.
Place pork rind, ham bone and 1 cup of chopped onions in a heavy bottomed pot. Cook over medium high heat until pork rind is rendered, about 20 minutes.
Transfer beans to a 6- to 8-quart pot and bring to a boil with 8 cups cold water, onion, and 2 tablespoons garlic.
Put celery, thyme, bay leaf, cloves, parsley sprigs, and peppercorns in cheesecloth and tie into a bundle with string to make a bundle. This is known as a bouquet garni.
Add bouquet garni to beans, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until beans are almost tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Stir in crushed tomato or purée. Simmer 15 minutes more.
Heat duck fat in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausages and brown them on both sides. Put remaining garlic, onion and ½ cup water in a blender and add the mixture to the skillet. Continue cooking, stirring the mixture from time to time about 10 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Assembly Remove bouquet garni. Using a slotted spoon, place half of the beans in a heavy earthenware, clay or cast iron pot. Place the meat from the ham hocks on top of the beans then cover with the sausage mixture. Place the duck on top of the sausage layer. Cover with the remaining beans. Add enough reserved bean liquid to cover the beans. Reserve bean liquid.
Cook for 1 hour or until the cassoulet comes to a simmer and a crust begins to form. Reduce heat to 250°F and gently push down the crust with the back of a wooden spoon. The cassoulet should be barely bubbling. Cook for 3 hours, breaking the crust every hour or so. If the cassoulet appears dry, sprinkle with a little water or the reserved bean liquid.
Remove from the oven and allow cassoulet to cool completely. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, allow cassoulet to come to room temperature. Pre-heat oven to 350°F. When the cassoulet begins to simmer, break the crust, then add about ½ cup warm water or enough to just cover the beans. Reduce the heat and bake for 3 hours, breaking the crust 3 more times.
Serve cassoulet piping hot, breaking the crust for the final time at the table.