While preparing a cassoulet the day before makes for a ‘no fuss’ meal on the day, I must admit it requires time. There are a variety of meats in the casserole and each one is partly cooked prior to going into the dish. A good idea is to ask your butcher to prepare as much of the meat for you as possible, like removing the bone in the lamb shoulder and pork, and even dicing the meat. A good butcher will make sure the meat is cut and prepared for you if needed, as well as ensuring it is fresh and well chosen. For the lamb, pork and bacon I visited Brady’s Butchers in Templeogue http://www.bradysbutchers.ie/?route=information/information&information_id=24. They are extremely helpful and have great produce. The Toulouse sausages and duck legs were bought at the butcher counter in Fallon & Byrne http://www.fallonandbyrne.com/section/117 who have the most delicious Toulouse sausage I’ve tasted here in Ireland, and also a French butcher, very authentic! Serve a Cassoulet with a fresh crusty French baguette www.bijourathgar.ie/bijou-deli/
2 liters chicken stock
200g thick cut bacon
2 onions, one halved and one peeled and studded with cloves
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 crushed garlic clove and one minced garlic clove
3 cans of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
4 tbsp. Duck fat
6 shallots, chopped
2 tins plum tomatoes and their juices
250ml dry white wine
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
8 toulouse sausages
6 large duck legs
500g deboned lamb shoulder, cut into chunks
½ tsp piment d’espelette
200g pork shoulder, cut into chunks
1 ½ cups breadcrumbs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat the chicken stock in a large pot on the hob with the streaky bacon, onions, crushed garlic clove, and bouquet garni. Bring to a boil over a medium high heat, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered for an hour.
Disgard the bouquet garni, onions and garlic. Cut the bacon into one inch cubes and set aside. Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed. Add the drained rinsed beans to the stock with the chopped carrot and simmer for a further 20 minutes with the lid on. Remove the beans and carrots from the stock with a hand strainer (reserving the stock) and set aside.
Next cook the meat:
To cook the duck legs, prick the skin a few times with a toothpick or fork. Place in a casserole dish (you may need two dishes for 6 legs), season both sides with salt and pepper, and cook in a preheated oven at 160°C for 90 minutes.
To cook the sausages, prick each one in two places with a fork. Heat 1 tablespoon of duck fat in a large frying pan, (you may need to do this in two batches if the pan isn’t big enough). Brown the Toulouse sausages on all sides and cook for 10 minutes. Remove them from the pan and cut at an angle into 1 inch pieces.
In the same pan, fry the pork shoulder steak until cooked and golden on both sides. Set aside
To cook the lamb, heat 1 tablespoon goose fat in a deep-frying pan, add the lamb and brown the meat on all sides on a medium heat. Add a sprig of rosemary and the piment d’espelette. Add enough water just to barely cover the meat, bring to a boil on then lower heat. Season with salt and pepper and leave to simmer for 30 minutes. Set aside.
Add 2 tablespoons of the duck fat to the pan with the chopped shallots and cook until the shallots are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and continue to cook for a further minute. Add the white wine and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, and season with 1 teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of pepper. Simmer for 20 minutes.
To assemble the cassoulet, layer one-third of the beans & carrots on the bottom of a large casserole dish. Add half the meat (duck on the bone, bacon, sausage, pork, lamb). Cover this layer with half the tomato mixture. Repeat with another third of the beans & carrots and the remaining meat. Cover this with the rest of the tomatoes and then a final layer of beans & carrots. Pour enough of the chicken stock to come up just to the top of the beans.
Cover the entire cassoulet with breadcrumbs dotted with butter. Bake at 170°C for one hour and 15 minutes until the crust is golden. Serve immediately with crusty bread.
Source: Dad’s cassoulet