Earlier this week, I thawed a frozen duck I found at the supermarket. Here in rural Arkansas, these sometimes show up near Thanksgiving, and I took advantage of that fact. When it thawed, I filleted the breasts from the bird and detached the leg quarters. On a domestic United States duck, that left little worth eating on the bird carcass.
I seared the breasts for a week night dinner.
The carcass went into a stock pot that I simmered for about 12 hours over the space of two days. The legs and thighs were headed for fat to confit them when I read a persuasive blog post on cassoulet.
Thank you www.seriouseats.com.
I decided to experiment and try the way written on the post instead of the way I was taught at Le Cordon Bleu, London.
In keeping with the French farmer origins, I collected what I had or could get. That meant no artisinal garlic charcuterie. I used kielbasa instead. Salt pork, the duck legs and thighs, and some frozen pork cutlets out of the freezer were selected for the other meats.
For the beans, I used what I had, a combination of Great Northerns and Cranberries.
This morning I prepped everything and started to build the casserole.
First I browned the meats.
I sauteed the onion in the dutch oven I used to brown the meat and added a heaping tablespoon of tomato paste to the onions. I added the beans the aromatics, the head of garlic, and a spice satchel that contained thyme, bay leaf, a few cloves, and about a teaspoon of a spice blend from Penzy's that they label bouquet garni.
To this I added 5 cups of duck stock I had strained and de-fatted. I brought the beans and extras to a simmer and covered it to cook for 45 minutes. I tested at that point and the beans were nearly done. I removed the carrot, celery, and spice bundle. I added the meats and enough stock to mostly cover everything and put the dutch oven in a 275 degree oven, uncovered. At 2 hours I began breaking the crust every 30 minutes and adding water as necessary.
This is the 2 and 1/2 hours in the oven picture.
After five hours in the oven, the crust had darkened and I reduced the oven temperature to below 200 to hold the casserole for dinner.