Revivalist Kitchen’s Christmas Cassoulet
This is one sexy bean dish! Not a meal for someone short on time or funds, this cassoulet was a true show stopper at the Revivalist Kitchen holiday party. As someone who has never had the pleasure of eating cassoulet in France I was inspired by the delicious cassoulet of chef Walter Manske that I experienced at Church & State Bistro and took some tips from a recipe Octavia had saved from Saveur magazine.
Our goal was to feed a whole gang of friends (some were French!) a holiday meal that they couldn’t forget, while introducing them to Revivalist Kitchen. Featuring pork, pork, pork, duck and some beans this dish was rich and comforting and was our take on a much beloved French classic.
To ease some of the preparation burden here, we prepared this dish over a few days and we highly suggest you give yourself plenty of time. The duck confit was made ahead of time and stored in the fridge under a snowy layer of fat, we purchased the sausage (this time) from one of our favorite local butchers McCall’s Meat & Fish and we made our stock from Cook’s Ranch pork bones and soaked & cooked our Rancho Gordo tarbais beans (all purchased from the awesome Arroyo Co-op in Pasadena) ahead of time.
This was a real winner, worth the effort we put in to make the dish. And according the Octavia’s hubby Tom, our Revivalist Kitchen Christmas cassoulet was as good as the cassoulet he first enjoyed in the perfect little bistro in Paris. Mission accomplished!
2 lbs of soaked tarbais beans (we used Rancho Gordo brand from the Arroyo Co-op)
1 Gallon of pork broth, fat skimmed off and removed (we used pork bones from Cook’s Ranch, pure water, cider vinegar & sea salt and cooked in the pressure cooker for 90 minutes)
1 lb chopped white onion
1/2 lb chopped carrots
6 large cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup oregano
1/4 cup thyme
1/2 cup sea salt
2 cups tomato sauce (we used a sauce in a tetra-pak to avoid the can)
1/2 bottle dry white wine
2 smoked ham hocks
2 lbs duck confit, cut at the joint where the thigh meets the drumstick (about 4 large legs)(We got ours from McCalls meat & Fish)
1 lb pork belly, cubed
2 lbs pork sausage (we used fennel sausage from McCalls Meat & Fish)
2 cups fresh toasted bread crumbs (we used cubed white sourdough bread that was toasted in a low oven and then ground in the food processor)
Day 1: Soak your beans in pure water overnight. Prepare pork stock, strain & refrigerate.
Day 2: Chop vegetables and cook in skimmed pork stock, with ham hocks, beans and garlic. Cook until beans are soft but not mushy then add salt. Remove ham hocks and shred the meat and add back to the beans. Cool then refrigerate.
Day 3: Brown the pork belly well in some duck fat or lard reserved from the broth. Mix the tomato sauce with the white wine and pork belly and simmer until the sauce is reduced by a third and the pork belly is tender. Brown the sausage (we chopped each link into thirds after browning) and sear the duck confit (careful duck confit can really spit and splatter) and reserve. Chop herbs, reserving a few tablespoons to be mixed with the bread crumbs and add to the sauce.
To finish and serve: In a large dutch oven mix everything but the breadcrumbs gently together and bring up to a bubbly simmer, either in the oven or on the stovetop. Allow all the meat to be completely heated through, taste for seasoning and top with breadcrumbs mixed with herbs and quickly brown under the broiler. Alternatively, large batches can be heated on the stovetop in a large pot with the breadcrumbs being toasted in the oven, mixed with herbs and can be kept on the side, allowing your guests to finish their bowls with breadcrumbs, if they wish.
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