- 400 gm dried white beans, such as cannellini, soaked overnight in cold water, drained
- 4 duck confit legs, including duck fat (see note)
- 3 large onions, quartered
- 2 large carrots, coarsely chopped
- 250 gm pork rind, cut into 6cm pieces
- 2 fresh bay leaves
- 500 gm fresh pork sausage, cut into 6cm pieces
- 250 gm pork shoulder, cut into 4cm pieces
- 4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
- 1Combine beans and 3 litres cold water in a large saucepan over high heat, cover, bring to the boil (5 minutes), drain, then reserve beans in a bowl.
- 2Remove duck from fat (reserve 2 tbsp fat and keep remainder for another use), then pull the meat from the bones. Reserve bones and meat separately.
- 3Return saucepan to high heat, add onion, carrot, pork rind, bay leaves, reserved duck bones and 3 litres water, season to taste, cover, bring to the boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 1 hour. Remove pork rind and set aside, then strain stock into a saucepan (discard solids).
- 4Add beans to stock, cover, bring to the boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until beans are soft but skins remain uncracked (1 hour; older beans may take longer). Strain stock into a jug, season beans to taste, and reserve beans and stock separately.
- 5Meanwhile, heat reserved fat in a large frying pan over low-medium heat, add duck and cook until warm (4-5 minutes), remove duck and set aside. Increase heat to medium-high, add sausage and pork shoulder and cook until browned (2-3 minutes), remove sausage and pork and set aside separately. Remove pan from heat and reserve fat and pan juices.
- 6Preheat oven to 150C. Arrange reserved pork rind in the base of a 4-litre cassole or casserole. Spoon over one-third of beans, pat down gently, scatter over duck and pork, then spoon over remaining beans, patting down gently. Arrange sausage evenly over beans, pushing down gently so it is embedded but still visible. Slowly add stock to just cover (you’ll need 3 litres stock; top up with water if necessary), drizzle with fat and pan juices. Bake cassoulet, uncovered, until golden and beans are very tender (3 hours). After the first hour, if a golden-brown crust has formed on the surface, break it into the beans. Repeat this process every hour. If the beans on the surface
begin to dry out, drizzle with a few tablespoons of the reserved bean stock or water. Remove cassoulet from oven, cover loosely with foil, cool to room temperature, then refrigerate overnight.
- 7Two hours before serving, remove cassoulet from refrigerator and bring to room temperature. Transfer to a cold oven, heat oven to 150C, cook until warmed through and golden (1½ hours), stand for 15 minutes, then serve hot.
Note This is my trial-and-error adaptation of the "official" cassoulet recipe published by the Grande Confrérie du Cassoulet de Castelnaudary. The finished dish should be moist but not at all runny. If you don't own a cassole, use a four-litre cast-iron casserole. You'll need to begin this recipe 2 days ahead. Duck confit is available from select delicatessens and French food shops. Alternatively, you can make your own - see our masterclass on duck confit. Remaining duck fat will keep refrigerated for 1 month.