Cassoulet au Canard (Baked White Bean and Duck Casserole)
This duck-lover's version of the classic French casserole includes the bird in sausages, bone-in legs and thighs, breast meat, and the traditional confit.
Yield: serves 8-10
- 1 lb. dried white beans, such as tarbais, Great Northern, or cannellini, soaked overnight and drained
- 4 oz. slab bacon, cut into 4 pieces
- 2 tsp. whole black peppercorns
- 1 tsp. whole cloves
- 8 sprigs thyme
- 6 sprigs parsley
- 2 bay leaves
- Cheesecloth, for herbs
- 2 boneless skin-on duck breasts, skin scored in a crosshatch pattern
- 1⁄2 lb. duck sausage
- 2 duck legs, drumsticks and thighs separated
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 10 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
- 2 cups duck or chicken stock
- 2 legs duck confit, homemade or store-bought, skin and bones discarded and meat shredded
- 1 (28-oz.) can whole peeled tomatoes in purée, crushed by hand
- 3 tbsp. duck fat
- 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
- Country bread, for serving
- Boil beans, bacon, and 12 cups water in a 6-qt. saucepan. Place peppercorns, cloves, thyme, parsley, and bay leaves on a piece of cheesecloth; tie into a tight package and add to pan. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, covered slightly, until beans are tender, about 1 1⁄2 hours. Discard spices and transfer beans and cooking liquid to a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap; set aside.
- Season duck breasts with salt. Wipe pan dry and place breasts skin side down in pan; heat over medium-high heat. Cook, without flipping, until fat is rendered and skin is crisp, 5–6 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board; set aside. Cook sausage, flipping once, until browned, 3–4 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and slice 1⁄2" thick on an angle; set aside. Season drumsticks and thighs with salt and pepper; working in batches, cook, turning as needed, until fat is rendered and duck is browned, 5–7 minutes. Transfer to a plate; set aside. Add garlic and onions to pan; cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 15 minutes. Return sausage, drumsticks, and thighs to pan and add stock, confit, tomatoes, salt, and pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook until duck is tender, 1–1 1⁄2 hours. Using a slotted spoon, transfer sausage, drumsticks, thighs, and confit to a bowl; reserve broth.
- Assemble the cassoulet: Heat oven to 375°. Rub an 8-qt. Dutch oven with 2 tbsp. duck fat. Using a slotted spoon, transfer 1⁄3 beans to the pot. Add half the sausage, drumsticks, thighs, and confit. Add another 1⁄3 beans, then the remaining sausage, drumsticks, thighs, and confit. Top with remaining beans and pour 1 cup reserved broth over the top. Slice duck breasts 1⁄4" thick on an angle and arrange over the top. Melt remaining duck fat in a 1-qt. saucepan; stir in bread crumbs, salt, and pepper. Sprinkle bread crumb mixture over top of the dish and place in oven; bake until cassoulet is bubbling, about 40 minutes. Increase heat to 450°; cook until bread crumbs are browned, 3–5 minutes. Let cassoulet sit 10 minutes; serve with bread.