"This is a summery, lighter version of cassoulet," says Sibley. "Usually a very rich dish made with confit duck or even goose, pork sausage and loads of breadcrumbs, it's a wonderful classic. But this version is for the warmer months, so I use chicken, ripe tomatoes and other seasonal vegetables, along with the traditional cannellini beans." Begin this recipe a day ahead to soak the beans.
- 6 baby carrots, halved lengthways
- 4 banana shallots, thickly sliced
- 200 ml extra-virgin olive oil, or enough to cover the pan well
- 2 thyme sprigs
- 1 fresh bay leaf
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 3cm thick slice of kaiserfleisch or good smoked bacon
- 300 gm cannellini beans, soaked overnight in cold water, drained
- 2 litres chicken stock (8 cups)
- 4-6 fragrant truss tomatoes, stalks left on
- 160 gm fresh white breadcrumbs (2 cups)
- 3 tarragon sprigs, leaves roughly chopped
- 100 gm butter, melted
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 2 eggwhites
- 250 ml thickened cream (1 cup)
- 20 gm tarragon, chopped
- 4 thyme sprigs
- 1 fresh bay leaf
- 6 garlic cloves
- 200 gm rock salt
- 4 chicken Marylands
- 2 kg duck fat (see note)
- 1For boudin blanc, refrigerate the bowl of a food processor for 10 minutes. Cut the chicken fillets into about 6-8 chunks and blend in the chilled food processor with 1 tsp salt until smooth and shiny. Add the eggwhites and continue to process until glossy. Transfer the chicken mixture from the food processor to a large bowl and stir in the cream. Add the tarragon and cayenne pepper and white pepper to taste. Check the seasoning by wrapping a teaspoonful of the mousse in plastic wrap, like a little sausage, then tying off the ends and poaching it in a saucepan of boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Unwrap and taste the boudin, and then season if necessary. Put the chicken mixture into a piping bag with a wide nozzle. Place four 30cm sheets of plastic wrap on a work surface. Pipe a thick 15cm sausage down the centre of each piece of plastic wrap and roll up tightly. Make sure there are no air bubbles. Tie off each end. Bring a saucepan of water to a simmer over medium heat. Poach or steam the boudin gently (simmer only, if poaching) for 5-6 minutes, then remove and allow to cool. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- 2For confit chicken, using a mortar and pestle, pound the herbs, garlic and a little of the salt, then mix with the rest of the salt. Toss the chicken in the salt and leave to disgorge for
4 hours at room temperature (this will draw moisture from the flesh while also imparting the flavours from the salt). Preheat the oven to 130C. Rinse all the salt mixture off and pat dry. Melt the duck fat in a deep baking dish, add the chicken leg quarters and cover with a piece of baking paper pressed onto the surface. Cover with foil and cook for 3 hours. Allow to cool in the fat. When cool, gently remove the chicken and drain on paper towels. Cut the thighs from the legs and set aside until serving.
- 3Sweat the carrots and shallots in the extra-virgin olive oil in a frying pan over low-medium heat until they start to colour. Add the herbs, garlic, kaiserfleisch and beans, then pour the stock over. Simmer for 20-30 minutes, topping up with extra stock or water if necessary, until the beans are tender. Remove the kaiserfleisch and cut into 2cm pieces.
- 4Increase the oven temperature to 190C. Put the chicken legs and thighs on an oven tray lined with baking paper and put in the oven while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
- 5Slice the boudin diagonally and char-grill or pan-fry over medium-high heat on the cut surface until nicely coloured. Check the seasoning of the beans, remembering the confit chicken will be salty. Warm the beans with the kaiserfleisch, tomatoes and boudin pieces arranged nicely in a casserole dish or copper pan. Add the chicken legs and thighs.
- 6Mix the breadcrumbs with the tarragon and butter and season with salt and pepper. Scatter over the cassoulet and bake for 15-20 minutes or until bubbling and the crumbs are golden.
- 7Serve in the middle of the table along with a big green salad.
Note Duck fat is available at good butchers and food stores. This recipe is from New Classics ($49.95, hbk) by Philippa Sibley, published by Hardie Grant Books. It has been reproduced with minor GT style changes.