This recipe is “quick” because I didn’t use the traditional method of soaking the cannellini beans over night, and instead, used canned beans. You can certainly use dried beans, but I find that I hardly have the time to make a 3 hour dish anymore, let alone that requires at least 4 hours of pre-soaking beans, and 45 minutes of cooking them.
While there isn’t really a French national dish, I think most of us recognize Cassoulet as a well known French dish. The origin of Cassoulet is a bit muddled. Whether it’s an Arab dish, or created in Castelnaudary in the 14th or 15th century, it’s a truly delicious and satisfying dish, and prepared with duck, almost feels a tiny bit gluttonous.
- 1 duck, 6.5 lbs., cut into serving pieces and trimmed of excess skin
- 2 cans cannellini or Great Northern Beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 Tbsp canola oil
- 1/2 lb. pancetta or slab bacon
- 2 large yellow onions, chopped
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1 Tbsp Herbes de Provence
- 1.5 cups dry white wine
- 1 can whole San Marzano tomatoes, coarsely chopped and puree reserved
- 1 lb. smoked sausage, such as kielbasa or andouille
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 3 cups chicken or duck stock
- 2 cups fresh bread crumbs
- Small handful of chopped parsley, for garnish
Rinse and drain the cannellini beans, and set aside.
Meanwhile place a large, dry non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat . In batches, brown the duck on both sides, putting the pieces skin side down first and turning once. It should take about 8 minutes total.
Discard the rendered fat as it accumulates and save for some yummy fingerling potatoes. Transfer the duck to a platter and set aside.
In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat.
Add the pancetta and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to the platter with the duck. Pour off all but 2 Tbsp of the fat.
Add the onions and the garlic and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the herbs and then the wine. Bring to a boil and cook for a couple of minutes.
Stir in the tomatoes with their puree, sausage, 1 tsp of salt, and 1/2 tsp of pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until slightly thickened, about 30 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Add the beans and prosciutto to the pot and stir.
Bury the duck pieces in the bean mixture and pour in the chicken or duck stock. Bring to a boil. Transfer to the oven and bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes.
Sprinkle with the bread crumbs and bake for 15 minutes longer. With a large spoon or spatula, push the crumbs just under the liquid and bake until a crust forms, about 2 minutes longer. Remove from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
Garnish with chopped parsley.
Even my 9 month old niece loves Cassoulet!