I can’t pretend that anyone from the south-west region of France would call this authentique but this is how I like to cook a cassoulet. You can skip the slow cooking of the duck if you happen to have some confit duck legs. I always stock up on tins when I am in France but Donald Russell sells a good vac-packed confit. You can also use tinned beans- 3 would be ample.
- 250g dried cannellini beans or haricot beans
- 1 shallot, peeled and halved
- 4 duck legs
- 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or duck fat
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 onions, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 stick celery, roughly chopped
- 5 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
- 500g tin tomatoes
- 500ml chicken stock
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 75g white breadcrumbs
- 4 herby pork sausages, cooked
- Soak the beans in plenty of cold water overnight. Drain and place in a large saucepan. Cover with water, add the shallot and bring to the boil. Boil for 5 minutes then turn the heat down and simmer for 40 minutes or until the beans are just cooked. Drain well, remove the shallot and set aside.
- Heat the oven to 170˚c, fan oven 150˚, gas mark 3. Place the duck legs in a roasting tin and pour over 1 tablespoon oil or duck fat. Sprinkle a generous pinch of Maldon salt over each one and season with plenty of ground black pepper. Place a thyme sprig on each leg. Roast for 2 hours.
- Heat 2 tablespoons fat or oil in an ovenproof saucepan or wide casserole dish and over a moderate to low heat sauté the onions, carrots, celery and garlic for 15 minutes until soft. Add the cooked beans, tomatoes, stock, bay leaves and rosemary and bring to the boil. Take off the heat and sprinkle over the breadcrumbs. Drizzle over the remaining oil or fat and cook in the oven for 45 minutes.
- When the duck has finished cooking arrange the legs and cooked sausages among the beans. Return to the oven for 20 minutes until bubbling. Serve with crusty bread and a simple green salad.