Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Duck & Sausage Cassoulet

Right actions in the future are the best apologies for bad actions in the past. – Tryon Edwards 

I start with an apology. Sorry I haven’t been posting much lately. It’s been a hectic first 6 days of 2014. But now I’m back in the saddle, so things should get back to normal, whatever that will become...

We’ve rented a satellite office, read “bachelor apartment,” in the city to help me service my urban clients, as well as a place for my spouse to stay while at college. It appears that will be where half my business growth this year will occur, so I may as well get my foot back in the door. I’ll be splitting my time between there and the “country estate.”

To accommodate my accessibility needs I have also taken the plunge and bought a smart phone. Still learning to use that darned small keypad! I would give you the number, but you know – give me work and you’ll get it!

But back to our bellies... In my last post I showed you how to butcher a duck and make Duck à l’Orange. That recipe used the breasts, so I left you all sitting with 2 duck legs and no way to use them. Sorry about that...

Even if you didn’t butcher your own (it is cheaper that way) you can buy individual duck legs at about 1/3 the cost of a duck breast. No need to worry and buy a left and right – you’re not making a Frankenstein’s monster!

Cassoulet  – French for meat and bean stew – is a wonderful meal to make during winter. It’s been, as we say in the Maritimes, “wicked cold” lately, and will remain so for another two months. So hearty is the way to go for meals.

Making this dish has inspired me with another recipe to try: French garlic sausage. That’s what my original source called for. They have pistachios in them. Of course, you can substitute with another heavily garlicky sausage.

Just remember, garlic is the foe of winter’s illnesses. The more the better.

This recipe make a goodly amount, and would be great for winter entertaining. If making for a larger crowd, add both cans of beans to stretch it, or you can use both type of beans, but purchase smaller cans for a family dinner.

I used only the white kidney beans. Since there's only two of us, tre black beans went back in the cupboard.

This recipe tastes wonderful and is great re-heated, so don’t be afraid to make the “full” recipe, even if there’s only 2-4 people. It won’t go to waste!

Duck & Sausage Cassoulet
Time: about 40 min  |  Serves 6-8
6 slices bacon, diced large
2 duck legs
2-3 French garlic sausage (about 1/2 lb)
1 medium onion
4-6 garlic cloves, diced
28 oz can whole plum tomatoes
19 oz can white kidney beans
19 oz can black beans (optional)
6 cups chicken stock (or duck, if you made it with the carcass)
1 to 1-1/2 tsp thyme
4 cups chard, chopped (1 bunch, without stalks)
1 cup stale bread, grated
salt and pepper, to taste

Slice the bacon and fry in a large Dutch oven or stock pan that has a lid. Remove to a bowl, but leave the rendered fat.

Season the duck legs with salt and pepper and brown on both sides in the bacon fat. Then place the top on the pot and let the duck steam-cook for 5 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool. Add the sausages and cook until browned, then remove.*

Add the chopped onion and sauté until softened, then add the garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes. Make sure the garlic doesn’t burn.

Add the tomatoes, beans, stock, thyme and chard. Break up the whole tomatoes slightly. Bring the pot to a gentle boil. While the pot comes to heat, slice the sausage and remove the meat from the duck legs.

Add the meats and grated bread. Let cook for a further 5 minutes. Taste the cassoulet for salt and pepper and adjust as desired. You can also adjust the amount of stock if you find it too dry.

* Neither the duck or sausage have to be cooked completely. The meat will finish while simmering.


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