1 pound dried butter beans
Bouquet garni: small bundle of thyme and a bay leaf, tied together with kitchen twine
Half of a yellow onion, studded with 1 clove
4 oz pancetta
Soak the beans overnight in water. The next day, simmer them in fresh water with the aromatics and the whole piece of pancetta until the beans are soft. The beans can be cooked up to two days in advance and stored in their cooking liquid. When you’re ready to use them, remove and discard the aromatics and cut the pancetta into slices. Crisp the pancetta in a cast iron skillet until golden brown and set aside.
Duck Leg Confit
4 duck legs, trimmed and ankles scored
1 teaspoon thyme, chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
4 cups melted duck fat
Generously season the duck legs, one day in advance with salt, pepper, thyme and allspice and refrigerate.
Allow the duck to come to room temperature before cooking.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Place the duck skin side up in an oven-proof dish and cover with the melted duck fat, making sure the duck is completely covered. Place the dish in the oven, and let the duck simmer until the leg joint flexes easily when bent, about 2 hours. At this point, you can store the duck by allowing it to cool to room temperature and placing it in the fridge, still submerged in the fat, for about 3 weeks. Or, you can set the duck aside and continue to make the cassoulet.
Braised Pork Shoulder
1-1.5 pounds boneless pork shoulder
1 yellow onion, diced
1 small celery root, peeled and diced
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon thyme, picked and chopped
1 bay leaf
1 cup pureed tomato
1/2 cup white wine
4 cups chicken stock
To braise the pork, season the meat with salt and pepper at least 2 hours in advance, preferably overnight. Pull the pork out to temper an hour before you plan to cook.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Brown the pork in a dutch oven with a few tablespoons of duck fat. Once the meat is browned on all sides, remove it from the pan and add the onion, celery root and a pinch of salt and saute over a low flame for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme and bay leaf, and saute for 1 minute. Add the tomato, wine, chicken stock and meat back to the pan and bring to a low simmer. Cover the pan and place into the oven to braise the pork until it’s tender when pierced with a knife, 1 1/2to 2 hours.
Once the pork is fully cooked, shred the meat and add it back to the braising juices. Taste for seasoning.
Assemble the Cassoulet
1/2 pound Toulouse style sausage
1 cup, lightly toasted levain breadcrumbs
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Drain the beans from their cooking liquid, reserving the liquid, and add the beans to the braised pork, along with the crisped pancetta. Give that a mix and taste, to adjust the final seasoning. Remember: you’ll be cooking this for 1 1/2 hours and liquid will reduce, so err on the side of under seasoning. Pour this mixture into your casuela or cast iron pan. Add more bean liquid if it looks dry. The final cassoulet should be juicy, but not soupy. Top the pan with the duck leg confit, nestled into the beans, skin side up to promote crisping. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for about 1 hour.
Meanwhile, sear the sausage by heating a small pan on the stove over medium heat with a few tablespoons of duck fat. The sausage should be golden brown, but not fully cooked as it will finish cooking in the cassoulet. Cut the sausages into thirds on the bias and set aside.
After the hour of cooking, tuck the pork sausage into the cassoulet and sprinkle the whole dish with breadcrumbs. Cook for an additional 30 minutes, until the cassoulet is golden brown and the breadcrumbs have created a nice, crispy crust on top. Allow the cassoulet cool for 15 minutes before serving. Serve with a bright, crunchy green salad.