Jun 25th, 2005, 09:03 AM
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OK, this is off topic. Fair warning: click on another thread now if you don't like recipe threads.

My contribution to an upcoming small (8) casual dinner party will be a cassoulet.

Although I love a good cassoulet , I haven't made one in years. It was "satisfactory", as I recall, but want something better.

I purchased some lovely petite white French beans yesterday from a farm (heirloom & organic). Was thinking of making my own duck confit if that isn't too involved (and worth the effort vs. buying it from a local meat shop). Making my own confit would require at least 3 days, so I would need to start mid-week for next Saturday's party.

What is desired: hearty/rustic, slow-cooked, bone-in duck w/ skin. Looks nice when served in bowls. Will present with salad and French bread.

Want to avoid: goopy or glumpy consistency, overly salty, chewy/rubbery sausage. Not crazy about breadcrumb topping -- looks ugly and doesn't add much IMO. Hydrogentated lard and other preservatives.

Hints, ideas, farorite recipes welcomed. Thanx.

Nimrod is offline  
Jun 25th, 2005, 09:15 AM
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HI--while this is a quintessential French dish, and therefore might be in the repertoiore of those on this Europe board, would you not be more likely to get feedback on a "foodie" board?? Not critiscizing, just asking....
socialworker is online now  
Jun 25th, 2005, 09:22 AM
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Hi N,

First, catch your duck....

ira is offline  
Jun 25th, 2005, 10:08 AM
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I make a killer cassoulet if I do say so. Auctioned one for big bucks for a charity once. I don't know what beans you have purchased. I love flageolets for cassoulet. Making confit can be done in one day. You need duck fat and stock for the cassoulet anyway so that is where you will get it. Sorry you don't like the crumb topping--no hydrogenated fats in duck fat which is used to moisten the baguette crumbs. I make mine with lamb--pork is another possibility. I use good quality sausage. Layer the beans, lamb "stew", cofit, sausages in a Le Creuset 6qt French oven. Bake. Serve with a salad of greens and roasted beets with walnut vinaigrette and pear clafouti for dessert. I would be glad to send my recipe. You might search on the site also. Emeril has a recipe for confit there.
Gretchen is offline  
Jun 25th, 2005, 10:22 AM
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Confit of Duck

8 duck legs
100g (3 1/2oz) coarse sea salt
3 bay leaves
3 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
4 juniper berries, bruised or crushed
3 tsp black peppercorns, crushed
3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced

Place duck legs in a deep roasting tin, sprinbkle with the salt and add the rest of the ingredients. Place in the fridge to marinate overnight, or up to 24 hours.

The next day, preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas 6. Wash off the salt misture under cold running water. Dry the duck legs with kitchen paper. Put the duck legs back in the roasting tin and cook in the preheated oven for about two hours.

This makes an excellent confit. Sometimes I just use salt and pepper to marinate, I always save the fat (in a screw-top jar in the fridge) for roasting potatoes.
julia_t is offline  
Jun 25th, 2005, 11:29 AM
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Julia, you are roasting your duck legs covered with the duck fat aren't you? Maybe not. I cook my confit (salted and herbed as you do) covered with duck fat and in a low oven 250* for 4 hours (if I recall correctly--might be a bit different but definitely not in a very hot oven).
Gretchen is offline  
Jun 25th, 2005, 12:37 PM
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socialworker: could I get better feedback by posting on a "foodie" board. Probably, but I didn't.

Ira: No need to catch a duck when I can walk to Chinatown and choose one that is either fresh dressed or is completley intact with a recently slit throat. Could purchase pre-done confit too, if I so choose.

Gretchen and julia - thanks for the input -- still thinking/reading about the dish closest to what I envision.

Should have mentioned, do not want a lamb or chicken recipe. Strictly want duck and sausage w/garlic; seems I'm not alone in this thinking:

More suggestions?

Nimrod is offline  
Jun 25th, 2005, 01:01 PM
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No Gretchen, I don't cover the legs with anything. They just go in the tin, dried off a bit after rinsing. They produce so much fat of their own there is no need for anything else. And yes, the temperature is right. Slightly less than 2 hours I find. I found this recipe in a Sunday newspaper a year or so ago, and must have cooked it at least a dozen times as it is so quick and easy. Usually with only 2 or 4 duck legs though. Only once it didn't work very well, and that was when I forgot them for well over 2 hours and they were a bit shrivelled up and tough!

To stop the kitchen getting that smoky burnt-fat smell, I drain off the fat into my screw-top jar a couple of times during the cooking process.

Next time I find duck legs going cheap (!) at the supermarket, I think I might experiment with cooking them for longer at a lower temperature. But one of the reasons I like this recipe is that I can shove them in the oven when I get in from work, and serve them for supper within a couple of hours.
julia_t is offline  
Jun 25th, 2005, 01:12 PM
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Gretchen, these are petite white French beans (ideal/classic for cassoulet). Similar to a white navy bean, but smaller and having a more distinct/nutty flavor.

Nimrod is offline  
Jun 26th, 2005, 06:49 AM
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I didn't suggest chicken--it has to be duck to be cassoulet.
If you have the Fine Cooking recipe you cannot do better.
"Real" confit is poached in duck fat to cover. There isn't enough on the legs to do this so you skin your whole duck, cut the skin into smaller pieces and render the fat over low heat in a saucepan. Then you get these wonderful crisp "lardons" to either put in the cassoulet or to garnish a mesclun salad.
Formerly confit in France is stored for long periods covered with the fat in pottery confit jars--not refrigerated.
The beans sound very good--if they have a slight tinge of green they are flageolets. But small white beans are good. Be VERY careful not to overcook or boil them so they will hold their shape and not break up--don't stir hard.They need to be intact and creamy inside. Sausage need not be "rubbery".
An andouille would be a good garlicky choice--Emeril has some as does Bruce Aidells.
Cassoulet is usually just made with the confited legs but I added the breast into mine for more meat. After you have cut off the legs to confit (leave the skin on them--they can be browned slightly before adding to the dish and the skin gets a bit crisp), skin the bird and bone out the breasts. Do the rendering for fat (it takes about 2 hours over VERY low heat--you don't want it to burn). Simmer the carcass for stock for cooking your beans.
To make the confit, do the seasoning as Julia suggested. Rinse the salt off, pack in a dish just large enough to hold the legs and cover with the rendered fat. Cover and poach at 250* for 4 hours. SAVE the fat--it is liquid gold. You can store the legs covered with the fat in the fridge for a long period.
Adding another kind of meat--lamb or pork--is delicious and not difficult.
Gretchen is offline  
Jun 27th, 2005, 06:28 PM
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Again, thanks Gretchen and julia for your tips, observations and suggestions. I'm going to print them and keep them in my recipe file.

I've decided to go with Anthony Bourdain's cassoulet recipe from his Les Halles Cookbook. Looks great, as do all the recipes in this fabulous book.

You two may like this -- while looking around for recipes I happened upon this Christmas Cassoulet -- think we'll try it this holiday season.

Now I must go and get my ducks in a row -- and my mis en place...

Nimrod is offline  
Jun 27th, 2005, 06:36 PM
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Any chance you are in or around New York City or some other foodie Mecca?
D'Artagnan, and other purveyors of fine poultry, sells through retail outlets, duck confit.

I happen to think that Julia Child could do no wrong, and would recommend her version.
elaine is offline  
Jun 27th, 2005, 06:44 PM
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When I was staying ast a ferme/auberge in Montolieu, our hostess took me to her potter , who is one of the few still making the cassoles(the dish the cassolet is cooked in)
The recipe from the Carcassone Jean-Claude Rodriguez restaurant Chateau St. Martin Trencacel in Pierre Franey's
"cooking in France is excellant. I can buy my duck confit all ready prepared at my local fish/meat monger.
cigalechanta is offline  
Jul 4th, 2005, 02:03 PM
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I have made Julia's recipe and agree--it is delicious. It was the time I found out about being gentle with the beans, however--they were "puree", but the cassoulet was delicious. I really do recommend the Fine Cooking recipe also.
Gretchen is offline  
Jul 4th, 2005, 02:20 PM
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Duck? In cassoulet?

Well maybe in some denatured transatlantic world.

But every time I've been to Castelnaudary (and from anywhere else, it's just fowl stew), it's goose, with a bit of pork, and a spot of carre de mouton (NOT insipid agneau)

Squabble as much as you like about the legumes. But the heart of any cassoulet has to be confit d'oie.

A good example is at Note the complete absence of breadcrumbs, bits of baguette or anything else that will end up in your nose.
flanneruk is offline  
Jul 4th, 2005, 02:33 PM
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Your menu plan described in your first post has me salivating like a Pavlovian dog ! (sorry for the visual). Thank God it's after five and I'm soon calling it a day with dinner in sight.
We won't be eating cassoulet unfortunately, but I have 4 pound tin of Duck confit in my freezer - a gift from visiting friends from Normandy - and I think I now know what to do with it.

Cherries are in season, so I treated my girlfriend to a cherry clafouti last night. I made it with ground almonds in the custard, and flaked on top.
Mathieu is offline  

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