Cassoulet takes a long time to make. AND I was making the "easy" version where I didn't have to confit my own duck. Four plus hours, but it was totally worth it! G and I went on a cycling trip in the Loire Valley of France this past year, and there, I had the most amazing dinner of my life featuring, you guessed it, Cassoulet. It was really amazing and I have wanted to make it for some time, but have been a little afraid of it! But I am so glad that I spent most of yesterday afternoon making it, as it was truly fun to do and delicious to eat.
The part of the cassoulet makin' that really almost did me in was cutting the fat, skin and meat off the duck legs. It was so greasy and really, as I am someone who is still squeamish about eating meat on bones, it was a bit out of my league. But not the fearless G, who leapt in and saved the day!
That neat little pile to the left is all the skin and fat. (That's our nice new cutting board, FYI. We get them at the St. Lawrence Market, though I suspect you can get them lots of places, but they are magnificent! We have them in three different sizes!)
While you are dissecting the duck, the beans are coming up to a boil. You then take the left over bones and put them in the steaming pot of beans.
I absolutely love beans, especially white beans. They are really toothsome yet creamy, good for you, tasty, and cheap! It's a win win situation. The good for you part of the beans gets a little drowned by the duck fat in this recipe, but so be it! We knew this was the dinner plan, so we kept the eating fairly low key during the day. It's all about moderation "they" say.
The next step is pretty straight forward, and there are no photos to mark it...
Render the fat and skin down to liquid so you can fry the skin to make crackling. You then use this crackling in the bread crumb topping, which I used because the recipe called for it, but it's unlikely I would put it on if and when I make it again. Instead, I would put it in a bowl to let people sprinkle on their own, should they desire it. Regardless, you then take the remaining duck fat and fry up the sausage. I used a turkey kielbasa, so as to keep away from the pork, as G is Jewish. It worked just fine!
So finally, you mix it all together and bake it. Here's the big whack of cassoulet:
G sets a mean table, and here's the beauty she made for us last night...
And here's a serving... it was really delicious.
It didn't taste exactly the same as the one I had in France, but it was still ridiculously good. We had our friends from upstairs over and everyone appeared to enjoy it. I made them eat three servings each because I didn't want there to be any leftovers as we are going out of town tomorrow! We drank most of the bottle of wine, finished up the bread and had some chocolate and tea after. All in all, a delightful meal with good friends.
G was a tad miffed that I hadn't posted HER plate of the roast chicken dinner from Saturday, which admittedly was prettier than mine. To make up for the error, please note her plate in all its glory:
(PS: The recipe for the easy cassoulet is from the Gourmet Cookbook, which I really do recommend, though I have found with each thing I have made from that cookbook, there is one step where I think, "Ummm, no" but do it anyway then wish I hadn't after the dinner was done. But despite that, the food is pretty faultless and the recipes are really very straightforward.)
Otherwise, we leave tomorrow for Disney! I will not be posting while we are gone because I am not taking Lady Victoria (my Mac) with me. However, I will take lots of photos and ply you with them when I return (because I still have another week off before I start my new job! Go ME!)