Cassoulet serves a large gathering, and leftovers reheat well. Spicy precooked Italian sausage or Polish kielbasa are a close match to the lively garlic sausage from southwestern France traditionally used in this dish. Cassoulet can be prepared two days ahead and refrigerated. Top with breadcrumbs and finish in the oven before serving.
1/4 cup salt
6 (8-ounce) duck leg quarters
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
4 thick-cut bacon slices, sliced crosswise into (1/2-inch-thick) strips
1 (3/4-pound) boneless leg of lamb, trimmed and cut into (1-inch) cubes
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup no-salt-added tomato puree
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
4 (15-ounce) cans organic Great Northern beans, drained
8 ounces cooked spicy Italian sausage, diagonally sliced
1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
How to Make It
Rub salt evenly over duck; cover and refrigerate 30 minutes.
Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add bacon to pan; cook 7 minutes or until crisp, stirring occasionally. Remove bacon from pan using a slotted spoon; set aside. Increase heat to medium-high. Add lamb to drippings in pan; cook 8 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove lamb from pan, and set aside.
Preheat oven to 300°.
Rinse duck with cold water; pat dry with paper towels. Add half of duck, skin side down, to pan; cook over medium heat 15 minutes or until golden brown. Turn duck over, and cook 10 minutes or until browned and fat under skin is melted. Remove duck from pan. Repeat procedure with remaining duck, reserving 1 tablespoon duck fat; set duck aside. Add onion and pepper to pan; cook 7 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Stir in tomato puree and garlic; cook 1 minute. Return lamb to pan. Nestle duck into lamb mixture; add broth and 2 cups water. Cover and bake at 300° for 2 1/2 hours or until lamb and duck are very tender. Remove duck from pan; let stand until tepid. Remove skin from duck; discard. Cut duck legs in half through the joint. Return duck to lamb mixture. Taste and adjust seasoning, if desired.
Increase oven temperature to 375°.
Stir 2 cans of beans into lamb mixture. Add bacon, sausage, and duck; top mixture with remaining 2 cans of beans. Sprinkle breadcrumbs evenly over top. Cover and cook 1 hour and 10 minutes. Uncover and cook an additional 20 minutes or until browned and bubbly.
Wine note: Traditionally, a rustic red from the south of France—a wine with the requisite meatiness and earthiness to mirror the duck and beans—is served with cassoulet. I love the Perrin & Fils Gigondas "La Gille" 2005 (Gigondas, France), $28, which is seductively earthy and has wonderful flavors of cherry jam. —Karen MacNeil
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I have made this dish many times and my family loves it. We have an uncommon cold snap today in sunny FLorida, and it just said cassoulet t me. I use the lamb, duck and bacon from the supermarket, although I do use boneless duck breast as my kids prefer it this way. I get garlic sausage at a local polish butcher. Fresh bread crumbs mixed with melted butter make all the difference in the topping. I love to serve this with a rustic crusty bread, crisp new green salad and good Pinot Noir.
I recomend this dish for company, I divide it into individual caserole dishes before putting on the bread crumb topping and browning as this makes a nicer presentation.
This dish was wonderful, it was one of the best things I've made. Not as time consuming as I thought, i had chopped up the onion and bacon the night before, and had set out the ingredients to make it for a small dinner party the next night. I only used 4 duck legs, and used spicy chicken sausage instead of regular. I poured out all the fat from both the bacon and duck and omitted the oil. I also added 3 fresh thyme and parsley sprigs while the duck and lamb were cooking in the oven. THe beans were not mushy either-next time I will use fresh bread crumbs instead of store bought. Served it with a goatcheese, pistashio and beet salad, and made the lattice blueberry pie from this site. This dish is perfect for a winter get together and my guests all had seconds.
Ditto on the 5 stars! We stayed "on recipe" as best we could, but had to cut the cooking time short since it smelled so good! We used duck this time but had trouble finding it so will try it with chicken next time as others suggested. Good wine pairing idea.
Like the others I substituted chicken leg quarters as I could not find duck, but it was still fall-off-the-bone tender, and probably lower in fat for it as well. I also used spicy Italian chicken sausage and hopefully cut back on the fat even more. Apart from the meats being tender and delicious, these are by far the best beans I have ever eaten. I cooked dried beans most of the way in a crock pot and finished them in the dutch oven with the meats. They absorbed all the flavors and I could have eaten them by themselves! I'm not sure that this would be company-worthy but I will definitely make this again, hopefully with the duck next time.
This recipe has great flavor. I could not find any duck at my regular market, so I used chicken thighs and it was excellent! For the sausage, the spicy Italian sausage recommended is awesome in this. This is worth the time it takes to make, and it is pretty simple, so don't be intimidated!! Also, there was enough left over to freeze for another meal, so it will save you from cooking dinner on a different night.
Rich, flavorful, hearty and filling. This recipe does take a long time to make, so I "cheated" a bit and used a precooked duck quarter that I stuck in during the last hour of cooking. I did tuck 3 bone-in, skinless chicken thighs with the lamb, and it gave immense flavor. I actually couldn't tell the difference between the duck and chix thigh, so next time I'll save the $9. My next attempt will include a better sausage--spicy & garlicy. I used garlic chicken sausage, but it was too bland. I'd also like to try it from dried beans b/c hubby said they got mushy. This is an expensive meal, about $40 for the ingredients, but well worth it!
This recipe was a lot of work, but it was worth the effort and I would gladly make it again. Just not on a Monday! Subbed boneless skinless chicken thighs for the duck, and it was still good. Next time I will try pork in place of the lamb. My husband wants to try it with venison and duck. My picky 5 year old even ate it. I served it with shepherds bread and a salad.
We have always wanted to try a cassoulet, but thought it would be too time-consuming and not healthy. Finding it in Cooking Light convinced us to do it. It was outstanding! Yes, it has to cook all afternoon, but we had time to do some minor home improvements while occasionally checking it. The flavors are incredible - the meats are so succulent - it's comfort food at gourmet level.
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