3 lbs haricot Tarbais (I may use 2 lbs next time, as this is a lot of beans)
12 oz ventreche (French version of pancetta)
10 cloves garlic (I used 3)
2 medium onions, peeled and cut in half
2 carrots, coarsely chopped
1 bouquet garni (5 parsley sprigs, 3 celery leaves, 1 sprig thyme, 1 bay leaf, 10 peppercorns wrapped in cheesecloth and tied) or as I did–1 Tbs dried bouquet garni
6 duck leg confit
6-1/2 oz duck and veal demi-glace, dissolved in 3-1/2 cups water
Salt and pepper to taste
2 packages duck and armagnac sausage
1 lb French garlic sausage, sliced
1/4 cup duck fat
(I skipped the 5 cloves that the onions should be studded with and the 1 Tbs of tomato paste as I didn’t have these things on hand)
To make the beans less difficult to digest, soak them for 24 hours at room temperature, changing the water several times. The soaking allows the beans to begin to sprout, a process in which they inactivate some of the toxic lectins that protect the bean from being eaten by pests before they sprout.
Once the beans have been soaked, drain them and put into a heavy pot or two (I don’t have one pot big enough for this much cassoulet), add the whole ventreche, garlic, carrot, bouquet garni and onion studded with cloves. Add water to cover by about three inches. Simmer for 1 hour.
Drain the beans, discard the onion and bouquet garni, but leave the carrot and garlic with the beans and season with 1 tsp salt and pepper to taste. Cut the ventreche into 1/2″ dice.
Preheat the oven to 325 F.
Brown the duck and armagnac sausages on all sides in a frying pan and cut into thirds.
Grease a large pot or casserole with duck fat (or use two large pots, as I do). Place half the bean mixture into the pot. Add the diced ventreche, duck and armagnac sausages, confit duck legs, and French garlic sausage slices, drizzle with some of the duck fat and cover with the remaining beans.
Mix the demi-glace and water and pour over the beans. I ended up using quite a bit more water to make sure that the beans were covered enough so as not to dry out in the oven (maybe I used too much water as the beans are supposed to make a crust on top of the Cassoulet, and this didn’t happen). Drizzle with the remaining duck fat.
I brought the pot to the boil on the stove top then covered and placed in the oven. Bake at 325 F until hot and bubbling about 2-1/2 hours. Check from time to time that the beans are not drying out and add water if necessary.
Raise the oven temperature to 400 F, remove the cover from the pot, and bake an additional 45 minutes until the top is browned.
Serve immediately, as Cassoulet should be eaten hot.
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