Black-eyed peas stand in for the white beans used in the traditional French dish. Be sure to continue simmering the pea mixture after removing the duck to cool so the final texture will be thick and rich tasting.
Cook bacon in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon, reserving 3 tablespoons drippings in pan; set bacon aside. Increase heat to medium-high.
Sprinkle duck with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Add 3 duck legs to drippings in pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove from pan. Repeat procedure with remaining duck. Add onion and garlic to pan; sauté 3 minutes. Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper, mushrooms, celery, and carrot. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook 20 minutes or until very tender, stirring occasionally.
Stir in broth, peas, 1 tablespoon thyme, and 1 tablespoon parsley. Return duck to pan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour and 20 minutes or until duck is tender, slightly mashing beans occasionally with a fork or potato masher. Remove duck from pan; cool slightly. Remove meat from bones; shred. Discard bones. Return meat to pan. Simmer 20 minutes or until mixture is thick, stirring occasionally. Stir in remaining 1 tablespoon thyme and remaining 1 tablespoon parsley. Sprinkle with bacon.
Wine note: The rustic flavors of this cassoulet will benefit from a red wine that pays tribute to the dish's French peasant roots. A basic Rhône red, like Jean-Luc Colombo Les Abeilles Côtes du Rhône 2005 ($13), has leathery, smoky aromas that echo the dish's earthy black-eyed peas and mushrooms, while the plummy black fruit and medium body balance nicely with dark meat duck legs. —Jeffery Lindenmuth
Commander's Palace Restaurant, New Orleans, Louisiana