Cassoulet

All of our students know that the culmination of the summers workshops is a giant cassoulet flavored with the creative work of many hands; butchery, charcuterie, garden work, planning and delight!(90 percent of the ingredients are grown here on Quillisascut Farm)

Last Thursday evening was the last workshop dinner and the cassoulet was voluptuous! Duck confit, garlic sausage, lamb shanks, white beans, fresh tomatoes, and herbs all topped with a generous crusting of bread crumbs.

Today I noticed this fabulous article, Cassoulet: The Quilt of Cooking, inspired by a Quillisascut  cassoulet. The meal is celebrated in Wisconsin and showcases a wealth of their regional farmers. Enjoy the story by Jessica Luhning

Here is Chef Karen Jurgensen’s recipe (you can also find this recipe in Chefs on the Farm

Quillisascut Cassoulet
*This dish is special to Quillisascut, … we spend the whole summer working toward this dish, saving bread ends, making sausage, duck confit etc.. Recipe is a little free-form and it yields enough for a large harvest party (30 guests).

Ducks (at least 3)- make weeks in advance!
Fabricate ducks, leaving hindquarters whole. Remove skin and fatty tissues from ducks and render the fat slowly over low heart until fat is liquid and the skins are crispy (bonus duck cracklins!). Reserve fat and snack on the cracklins! Rub duck hind legs and breasts generously with kosher salt, nutmeg and pepper, let rest for 24 hours. Pat the duck pieces dry. Reheat the duck fat slowly in an oven proof pan and immerse duck pieces into the fat, the fat should cover. Put pan in oven at 275? for about 4 hours or until duck is fork tender. Cool duck immersed in the fat. Will keep for weeks refrigerated in this manner.

For beans:
4 # dry beans
2 pork hocks
1 head garlic
4 bay leaves
¼ C kosher salt
2 T black peppercorns
Soak beans overnight, drain and cover with water again. Add smoked pork hocks, bay leaves, 1 head garlic, peppercorns and salt. Bring water up to a simmer slowly. Skim impurities. When beans are done they will have a creamy texture but still be intact. Drain beans but reserve liquid and pork hocks.

Lamb Shanks:
Marinate 2 lamb shanks in red wine with couple cloves of garlic, 4 juniper berries, 2 bay leaves for about 4 hours. Season with salt and pepper and sear the outside of the shanks, set aside.

Chicken:
Marinate 6 chicken thighs, hearts and gizzards (optional) with white wine, thyme, lavender and bay for about 4 hours. Sear thighs until brown, set aside.

Bread crumbs:
Dry out leftover bread ends and pieces, about 4 cups worth, grind up in a food processor. Melt a little duck fat and toss bread crumbs into the fat with some salt, pepper, and thyme. Toast bread crumbs lightly.

Assemble Cassoulet:
2 # andouille sausage, browned
6 ripe heirloom variety tomatoes, concasse
3 oz fresh thyme, stemmed
1/2 # duck fat
1 bulb garlic, sliced
Melt enough duck fat to cover the bottom of a large roasting pan or cassoulet pan. Place garlic cloves in the duck fat. Begin layering into the pan; beans, lamb shanks, pork hocks, confit’ed duck pieces, chicken thighs, hearts and gizzards, lamb sausages, tomatoes, fresh thyme leaves, salt, pepper and more beans. Make certain that all of the meats are covered with the beans, use more than one pan if necessary. Pour reserved bean water just above the level of the beans (keep remaining bean liquid until cassoulet is done), dot the top of the cassoulet with duck fat. Cover and cook in the oven at 300 degrees for one hour, then uncover and top with the bread crumbs and push them just below the surface of the liquid but not stirring them in. Cassoulet should cook slowly and the fats will rise to the surface and form a crust with the crumbs, be careful to keep liquid level above the beans, you may have to add more reserved bean liquid. Check cassoulet every 45 minutes, and crack surface crust, sinking the crumbs under the fat. If bread crumbs get too brown, cover loosely with foil. Cassoulet should cook for about 4 hours.

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