Blog Checking Lines: Our January 2011 Challenge comes from Jenni of The Gingered Whisk and Lisa from Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. They have challenged the Daring Cooks to learn how to make a confit and use it within the traditional French dish of Cassoulet. They have chosen a traditional recipe from Anthony Bourdain and Michael Ruhlman.
Mandatory: We should make a confit and incorporate it in to a cassoulet.
Variations: We might choose to use any combination of meat or other protein source that we wished. We were also encouraged to soak our own beans, but we could use canned beans as well.
If we couldn’t find duck, we could substitute with any other waterfowl/poultry. Same goes for any of the pork, we could substitute with lamb, beef, and venison, or whatever we wished.
If we couldn’t find duck fat, we could substitute any other fat that we wanted, i.e. bacon grease, lard, butter, olive oil, etc.
Pork belly may be substituted with a Boston butt pork roast, pork shoulder, pancetta or whatever we thought would work and/or simply prefer due to dietary, religious, or any other personal reasons
Pork rind could be substituted with slab bacon or we could purchase salt pork and cut off the rind.
Duck Confit4 whole duck legs (leg and thigh), size does not matter
Sea salt, for the overnight (at least 6-8 hours) dry rub (the amount varies depending on the size of your legs, so just know that you need to have enough on hand for a good coating).
450 g duck fat
A healthy pinch or grind of black pepper
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
1 garlic clove
Rub the duck legs fairly generously with sea salt, place in the shallow dish, cover with plastic and refrigerate overnight. At all times, keep your work area clean and your ingredients free of contamination - meaning don't allow any other food, like bread crumbs or scraps, to get into your duck, duck fat or confit, as they will make an otherwise nearly non-perishable preparation suddenly perishable.
Preheat the oven to moderately hot 375ºF/190ºC/gas mark 5. Render (melt) the duck fat in the saucepan until clear. After seasoning with the black pepper, place the duck legs in the clean, ovenproof casserole. Nestle the thyme, rosemary and garlic in with the duck legs, and pour the melted duck fat over the legs to just cover. Cover the dish with foil and put in the oven. Cook for about an hour, or until the skin at the "ankle" of each leg pulls away from the "knuckle." The meat should be tender. Allow to cool and then store as is in the refrigerator, sealed under the fat. When you need the confit, you can either warm the whole dish, in which case removing the legs will be easy, or dig them out of the cold fat and scrape off the excess. I highly recommend the former. A nice touch at this point is to twist out the thighbone from the cold confit. Just place one hand on the drumstick, pinioning the leg to the table, and with the other hand, twist out the thighbone, plucking it from the flesh without mangling the thigh meat. Think of someone you hate when you do it.
Ok, let me tell you something. Here in Brasil it is easy to find whole duck to buy. You can find it in almost every supermarket. But just the whole bird. I've never seen it been sold in separate parts. So I bought and used legs and tights of chicken.
On the other hand, I thought I wouldn't find duck fat but, as I went to São Paulo at the beginning of the month, I could buy it there. (Thanks to my friend Claudia who kept it in her fridge until the time of coming back home!)
5 cups white beans such as Great Northern or Cannelini (if you use canned
beans be aware that you will need double this amount!)
900 g fresh pork belly
1 onion, cut into 4 pieces
450 g pork rind - Like Jenni I used thick cut bacon
1 bouquet garni (tie together two sprigs parsley, 2 sprigs thyme and one bay leaf)
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup duck fat
6 pork sausages - I saw some really beautiful bratwurst at the market, so I used them
3 onions, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
4 confit duck legs - used just two
Place the beans in the large bowl and cover with cold water so that there are at least 2 or 3 inches (50mm or 75mm) of water above the top of the beans. Soak overnight.
Drain and rinse the beans and place in the large pot. Add the pork belly, the quartered onion, 115g of the pork rind, and the bouquet garni. Cover with water, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and continue to simmer until the beans are tender, about 30 minutes more. Let cool for 20 minutes, then discard the onion and the bouquet garni. Remove the pork belly, cut it into 5cm squares, and set aside (If you plan to wait another day before finishing the dish, wait to cut the pork belly until then). Strain the beans and the rind and set aside, reserving the cooking liquid separately.
In the sauté pan, heat all but 1 tablespoon of the duck fat over medium-high heat until it shimmers and becomes transparent. Carefully add the sausages and brown on all sides. Remove sausages and set aside, draining on paper towels. In the same pan, over medium-high heat, brown the sliced onions, the garlic and the reserved squares of pork rind from the beans (not the unused pork rind; you'll need that later). Once browned, remove from the heat and transfer to the blender. Add 1 tablespoon of the remaining duck fat and purée until smooth. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to moderate 350ºF/180ºC/gas mark 4. Place the uncooked pork rind in the bottom of a deep ovenproof non-reactive dish. You're looking to line the inside, almost like a pie crust. Arrange all your ingredients in alternating layers, beginning with a layer of beans, then sausages, then more beans, then pork belly, beans, duck confit and finally more beans, adding a dab of the onion and pork rind purée between each layer. Add enough of the bean cooking liquid to just cover the beans, reserving 1 cup/240 ml in the refrigerator for later use. Cook the cassoulet in the oven for 1 hour, then reduce the heat to very slow 250ºF/130ºC/gas mark ½ and cook for another hour. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Refrigerate overnight.
Preheat the oven to moderate 350ºF/180ºC/gas mark 4 again. Cook the cassoulet for an hour. Break the crust on the top with the spoon and add 1/4 cup of the reserved cooking liquid. (Don't get fancy. Just pile, dab, stack and pile. It doesn't have to be pretty). Reduce the heat to very slow 250ºF/130ºC/gas mark ½ and continue cooking another 15 minutes, or until screamingly hot through and through. Then serve.
Lisa and Jenni also provided another recipe of Cassoulet. The Thirty Minute Cassoulet by Jacques Pepin’s Fast Food My Way. I decided to make the longer version because I thought it seemed to be more - let's say - tradicional. But to tell you the truth, I could not see any difference between this Cassoulet and our Brasilian Feijoada. In our Feijoada we don't use duck. nor chicken. It is just black beans, jerked beef, pork belly, smoked pork sirloin, sausages, pork ears, nose and tail. And Feijoada is made in an easier way. This long and complicated version of cassoulet is like much ado about nothing...
As my elder daugter hates white beans I also made some feijoada for her
As this challenge was about confit too I decided to make two other confits: garlic and tomatoes confit.
20 peeled garlic gloves
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
Olive oil - to cover the garlic cloves
Put all ingredients together in a small pan and take to a very low heat. Cook it for 1 to 2 hours but don't let it boil.
Garlic Confit - Second version
Just like the first one but instead of thyme I used fresh rosemary and I didn't peel of the garlic cloves
Cherry tomatoes cut in lenghwise
Make it the same way as Garlic confit
I also made another tomato confit, using Italian tomatoes, cut in small dices.
I made four chicken legs confit but used only two in the Cassoulet. The other two I fried in its own fat and served with the garlic and tomato confit. Really good!
This was an amazing challenge. I learned and enjoied it a lot. Thanks Lisa and Jenni.Também em http://www.labgastro.blogspot.com/